Svein Roald Hansen. Photo: Storting.

Svein Roald Hansen. Photo: Storting.

Social rights and the Western Balkans on the agenda in Sofia

The head of the Storting’s Delegation to the EFTA and EEA Parliamentary Committees, Svein Roald Hansen (Labour Party), took part in a meeting in Sofia for members of national parliamentary committees focused on European Union affairs.

Discussions at the Conference of Parliamentary Committees for Union Affairs of Parliaments of the European Union (COSAC) covered the achievements of Bulgaria’s presidency of the Council of the European Union, the situation in the Western Balkans and efforts to reinforce the EU’s social dimension.

The President of the Bulgarian Parliament, the President of Bulgaria and the Prime Minister of Bulgaria attended the meeting. Among the issues underscored by the President were important results achieved during the past six months on security and defence cooperation in the EU.

Securing legitimacy for EU cooperation

The Vice-President of the European Parliament, Mairead McGuinnes, emphasised the key role of national parliaments and the European Parliament in assuring the legitimacy of the European cooperation. Although migration did not feature on the agenda, many of the speakers focused on this in their presentations.

The European Commission has taken a number of initiatives to strengthen the social dimension of EU cooperation by establishing the European Pillar of Social Rights.

“It is good that the EU now wants to reinforce the social dimension through measures like more rigorously enforcing existing rules. Having said that, it is important to respect national working life models,” Mr Hansen said in remarks delivered at the conference.


An important focus of Bulgaria has been to strengthen its cooperation with the Western Balkan countries. Among its other initiatives, Bulgaria hosted an EU-Western Balkans summit in May. Several speakers highlighted the fact that Greece and Macedonia have now signed an agreement to resolve their dispute over the name Macedonia. This agreement may clear the way for Macedonian EU membership.

“Stability and democratic development in the Western Balkan countries are important to all of Europe. That is why Norway has supported reform efforts in the region, both bilaterally and through EEA funds,” Hansen said in the debate, pointing out that Norway this year has doubled its bilateral support.

COSAC gathers members from the European affairs committees in the national parliaments of the 28 EU countries as well as attendees from the European Parliament and two countries that are candidates for EU membership. Norway participated in the role of observer along with seven other countries. The next COSAC meeting will take place in July in Vienna.

The Storting’s EFTA and EEA delegation

Last updated: 19.10.2018 13:38