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"Valuable parliamentary meetings in turbulent times" - Blog by Malik Azmani and Tuur Elzinga
The parliamentary dimension of the Dutch EU Presidency in the first half of 2016 has come to an end. Around 250 participants attended the 55th plenary COSAC meeting: parliamentarians of the European Affairs committees of the 28 member states, representatives of the European Parliament and other parties. The meeting held from 12 to 14 June in the Hall of Knights in The Hague provided a worthy end to our parliamentary activities during this presidency. The six successful conferences have demonstrated that national parliaments matter. With the utmost confidence, we hand over the Presidency of the parliamentary dimension to Slovakia for the second half of 2016. The meetings of the last six months were intense. That is not surprising, because these are turbulent times for Europe. Learning lessons from the financial crisis, grappling with the migrant crisis, the changing security situation, discussions between individual member states and further strengthening the role of the national parliaments. All of these issues and many more came up during the six conferences of the parliamentary dimension of the Dutch EU Presidency. In addition to the regular meetings of COSAC, and the meetings on the financial stability and the security and defence policy, we organised two important conferences on specific themes. The first of these was about the consequences of human trafficking, while the other one was about energy. These two themes are particularly topical and will require our attention for years to come. These conferences enriched our presidency. We were able to attract renowned speakers from both the Netherlands and abroad to all of the conferences. Their contributions and expertise greatly enriched the debate and thereby also our parliamentary dimension. Furthermore, we were also very pleased with the contributions of the Dutch prime minister, various Dutch ministers, various European Commissioners and various representatives of the European Parliament. As a result, the conferences became a true dialogue between all relevant players on the European stage. We therefore believe that the motto of the Dutch parliamentary presidency - strengthening parliamentary influence through improved mutual cooperation - has been effectively realised in the last six months.  We tried to do that in an innovative manner. With more interaction during conferences, diverse side events - including events with the general public and other partners, such as the cities of The Hague and Rotterdam and the provinces - and with the use of modern means of communication: the special interactive conference app (https://www.parleu2016.nl), photos on Flickr and tweets on Twitter (@Parleu2016NL). Everyone who made a contribution, especially the administrative support, deserves a great deal of praise. It has been an intense six months, but it was worth it. As the Chairs of the European Affairs committees of the Dutch House of Representatives and the Senate, we wish our colleagues of the Národná rada Slovenskej republiky in Bratislava much success in the next six months. veľa šťastia !Malik Azmani, Chair of the European Affairs Committee, House of Representatives Tuur Elzinga, Chair of the European Affairs Committee, Senate