Future inter-parliamentary scrutiny of EU foreign, defence and security policy - Foreign Affairs Committee Contents


Proposal for arrangements for inter-parliamentary scrutiny of the EU Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) and Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) after the ending of WEU

Existing texts

A proposal is presented below on the basis of the following two texts:

  • Article 10 of Protocol 1 to the Treaty on European Union and Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union on the role of national parliaments in the European Union, as amended by the Lisbon Treaty:

A conference of Parliamentary Committees for Union Affairs may submit any contribution it deems appropriate for the attention of the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission. That conference shall in addition promote the exchange of information and best practice between national Parliaments and the European Parliament, including their special committees. It may also organise inter-parliamentary conferences on specific topics, in particular to debate matters of common foreign and security policy, including common security and defence policy. Contributions from the conference shall not bind national Parliaments and shall not prejudge their positions.

  • Contribution of COSAC (Conference of European Affairs Committees of Parliaments of the EU), 25 October 2010:

COSAC stresses the need for parliamentary scrutiny of both CFSP and CSDP.

(i) Parliamentary oversight of CFSP and CSDP should involve both national Parliaments and the European Parliament;

(ii) The mechanism of parliamentary oversight of CFSP and CSDP should represent value for money and should add value to the work that Parliaments already do in this area;

(iii) There should be no new institutions or bodies established;

(iv) Parliamentary oversight should involve Members specialising in foreign affairs, defence and European Union affairs.

As a result, COSAC wishes that the new mechanism for parliamentary oversight of the CSDP be put in place during 2011.


The EU Speakers' Conference should invite COSAC (the Conference of European Affairs Committees of Parliaments of the EU) to use its power under Article 10 of Protocol 1 of the EU Treaties to resolve, at its next meeting (29-31 May 2011 in Budapest), to organise a biannual inter-parliamentary conference on CFSP, including CSDP. The conference should be called the EU Inter-parliamentary Conference on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Security (COFADS). COFADS should take the place of the Conferences of Foreign Affairs Committee Chairpersons (COFACC) and Defence Committee Chairpersons (CODCC) in the EU inter-parliamentary cycle. It should be governed by rules along the following lines.


1.  There is a need for parliaments to meet to exercise oversight of EU foreign, defence and security policies.

2.  COFADS should add value to the work that each parliament does on its own to oversee these policy areas.

3.  These arrangements are inter-parliamentary, in conformity with the inter-governmental nature of CFSP and CSDP. They are not autonomous.

4.  Costs will be kept to a minimum.

Purpose and subject matter

5.  COFADS may consider any aspect of CFSP and CSDP.

6.  COFADS will deal primarily with substance (e.g. EU policies, initiatives, missions), rather than process (e.g. how each parliament conducts scrutiny).

7.  COFADS may hear, debate and respond to presentations from, amongst others, government ministers, the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, EU Special Representatives, the European External Action Service, the Commission, the Council (including the Political and Security Committee, the EU Military Committee and the EU Military Staff), and any others as relevant, including non-EU and non-official bodies.

8.  COFADS is able, but not obliged, to adopt Conclusions relevant to the debates held. These Conclusions may invite formal responses from the High Representative, Council, Commission or others. Conclusions will be agreed by consensus and are not binding on participants or their parliaments.

Structure and practical arrangements

9.  All EU national parliaments and the European Parliament, and only those parliaments, have full membership of COFADS. Parliaments of official EU candidate countries are invited as observers.[10]

10.  No other body will have a standing invitation to COFADS. Any additional invitations are ad hoc and at the discretion of the troika country parliaments.[11]

11.  Delegations will consist of a maximum of six delegates per parliament including the European Parliament (three per chamber for bicameral parliaments). The composition of delegations is a matter for each parliament, but delegations might be expected to include Members specialising in foreign affairs, defence and EU affairs.

12.  COFADS will meet once in every Presidency.

13.  Meetings will last no more than one and a half days.

14.  Meetings will, as a general rule, be held in Brussels, in the Council building or other suitable premises, or in the Presidency country, but not in the European Parliament.

15.  There will be no committees.

16.  Organisational responsibility will be borne by the parliaments of the troika countries.

17.  The parliaments of the troika countries will be responsible for scheduling the meetings, proposing the agenda (in consultation with the High Representative), chairing the meetings and drafting any Conclusions. Brussels-based national parliament representatives will be used to facilitate practical arrangements and share views on draft Conclusions in advance of the meetings.

Staffing and administration

18.  Secretariat functions will be performed by staff from the troika country parliaments, with support from the permanent member of the COSAC Secretariat and national parliament representatives in Brussels.[12]

19.  The secretariat may engage temporary specialist support to aid in drafting conclusions or providing written briefing or background information in advance of debates.

20.  Translation and interpretation costs will be kept to a minimum, by adopting aspects of the regime used by the Speakers' Conference.[13]

21.  Costs (other than delegate accommodation, and base language interpreters as per the previous point) will be borne by the troika country parliaments.

22.  Neither staff support nor funding will be sought from the European Parliament.

10   Currently Croatia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Iceland, Montenegro and Turkey. Back

11   The WEU Assembly has also been attended by the following: Associates: Albania and Norway (the remaining European NATO Members); Partners: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Georgia, Moldova, Montenegro, Russia, Serbia, Ukraine (NATO partners); Observers: NATO Assembly, OSCE Assembly. The other non-EU NATO partner countries are Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Switzerland, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. Back

12   The COSAC Secretariat consists of one person from each troika parliament, one person from the European Parliament and the permanent member (who is funded by national parliaments). Back

13   During the meetings of the Conference, simultaneous interpretation is provided from and into official EU languages upon request according to the following:

· The technical facilities for the interpretation are provided and covered by the presiding parliament.

· Other practicalities, including languages to be used as base languages for translation, are defined and organised by the presiding parliament.

· Parliaments are entitled to bring their own interpreters. Those not bringing their own interpreters may request the presiding parliament to provide interpreters for them at their own cost.

· All parliaments choosing to use the languages provided by the presiding parliament share equally the cost of interpreters for all these languages.

Written papers are circulated in French and English. A translation into other languages may be provided by the parliament concerned. Back

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