Parliamentary Assembly session : 23 – 27 September 2002 

Joint meeting Parliamentary Assembly – European Parliament: “The real Europe does not belong exclusively to any single institution!”

The development of Europe as an area of freedom, security and justice

Memorandum by the Secretary General of the Parliamentary Assembly

List of Joint Committee Meetings PACE/EP

In jointly presiding a meeting on “the development of Europe as an area of freedom, security and justice” on Tuesday at 5.30 pm in the Council of Europe Assembly Chamber, Peter Schieder, President of the Parliamentary Assembly, and Pat Cox, President of the European Parliament, are giving a practical demonstration of their wish to strengthen co-operation between the two institutions.

Of course, the two assemblies already work together in a number of joint committees, and 7 joint meetings are being held this week in Strasbourg. However, there has never been a plenary session bringing together both their Presidents. For Peter Schieder, this meeting which will be attended by speakers and members of both institutions is a “clear signal” from the Parliamentary Assembly to the Parliament, stressing the latter’s importance in the process of European construction: both the 15-member European Union and “Greater Europe” must co-operate and address with one voice these issues which are of vital importance for the continent. For his part, Pat Cox thinks that both institutions have a great deal in common and hopes that this meeting will help them both understand each other better and result in regular and pragmatic discussions, free of any formality.

“We need to update constantly our respective functions and avoid duplication, because there is a place for both institutions in Europe,” said Pat Cox, welcoming the fact that this first meeting has chosen as its main theme the “key issue of the balance between security and individual freedoms” which has long been on the agenda of both assemblies.

Quite apart from the theme being discussed, the meeting will be a symbolic one in many respects: by bringing together the two major European parliamentary assemblies, it could help correct the impression people frequently have of two institutions working simultaneously but only too rarely together. “True Europeanness is not exclusive to the members of any one institution,” said Peter Schieder, stressing that “true Europe is a collection of ideals, values and convictions”, and he believes that this joint meeting is an ideal opportunity to remind the governments of Europe of this. In addition, the meeting will be taking place on the eve of the 50th anniversary of the European Parliament which held its first session in September 1952, and until 1999 gathered in the premises of the Council of Europe. “It is just a fortunate chance that we are commemorating this anniversary the day after the joint meeting” said Pat Cox, but the closeness of the dates is a timely reminder that the historical links between the two assemblies can and must be strengthened in order to face up to the challenges of the future.