Following visits to all the EU capitals and those of the candidate =countries, the Belgian Senator Philippe Mahoux, President of the Federal =Parliament's Committee on European Affairs, indicated that the European =debate in the candidate countries is focusing less on the future than on =the immediate issue of accession. The Belgian deputy Pierre Chevalier, =who also participated in the mission in his capacity as Chairman of the =Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee, suggested that when the debate =begins, it will focus above all on the future role of national =parliaments. Opening the debate, Mr Chevalier recalled the two most =popular options for strengthening the role of national parliaments: =either an improvement of consultation mechanisms, or the creation of a =second chamber, alongside the European Parliament. The first option =generally appears to enjoy more support, the second being deemed likely =to impose an unnecessary burden on the decision-making process, =according to Mr Chevalier. The Chairman of the Belgian Parliament's =Foreign Affairs Committee outlined the various measures that might =result in the implementation of one or other option. Regarding the =first, he floated the notion of strengthening the COSAC through the =establishment of a permanent secretariat under whose aegis regular =meetings might be organised between specialist national parliamentary =committees (industry, environment, transport, energy, etc.), or the =institutional presence of national parliaments alongside their Ministers =at EU Council sessions. Regarding the alternative option a possible =second chamber would be responsible for monitoring the principle of =subsidiarity downstream of European Commission legislative proposals, =and might enjoy shared responsibility in the second and third pillars.Sovereignty a dominant issue among candidates.The conference was addressed by a score of speakers often mixing =opinions on the Convention and on the role of national Parliaments. =Tibor Szanyi, vice-President of the Hungarian National Assembly, =suggested that this was due more to the fact that the candidate =countries did not participate in the last institutional reforms than any =lack of ideas or opinions. The debate in Slovenia is focusing on the =preservation of sovereignty, according to Slovenian deputy Alojz =Peterle, Chairman of the Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee. =Recalling that the imperative mandate of the Drzavni Zbor (Parliament)...

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