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Platform of co-operation.

While EFTA celebrates its 40th anniversary, the Committee of Members of Parliament (CMP) is quite a few years younger. During its first fifteen years EFTA did not officially have a parliamentary body, even though there were informal meetings between members of Parliament of EFTA Member States, first in Strasbourg in connection with the Sessions of the Council of Europe, then also in Geneva at EFTA headquarters. In 1977 the Committee of Members of Parliament was established and held its first official meeting in Geneva in November of that year. The initiative had come from the parliamentarians themselves, as they wished to increase their participation in the work of the Association. It was decided that the Committee should serve as a consultative body to the Council on matters within the scope of the Association and as a channel of information on such matters between EFTA and the national parliaments of its members.

Since then the CMP has become a body that has proved to be able to adapt itself to the rapidly changing political and institutional structures of our continent. In 1983, for instance, 27 members of parliament from the seven EFTA Member States and Liechtenstein participated in the CMP meeting. Among the main topics discussed were relations with the European Parliament and rates of unemployment in the EFTA Member States. In 1989 the CMP was the first EFTA body to welcome a proposal by the President of the European Commission, Jacques Delors, aimed at strengthening the partnership between the European Community and EFTA, which eventually became the EEA. In 1994 the parliamentarians of the eight EFTA States met for the first time in a joint meeting of the Committee of Members of Parliament of the EFTA Countries (CMP) and the Committee of Members of Parliament of the EFTA States that are members of the EEA.

When EFTA celebrated its 25th anniversary very few would have known the answer to the question of how Europe would look in the year 2000. Similarly, we cannot be sure about the political landscape of this continent, ten or twenty years from now. But it is probably safe to assume that cooperation among European nations will continue to increase, while countries will still have different needs and expectations concerning the form of this cooperation and the speed at which it increases. In this context, the CMP offers a platform for friendly discussions among the parliamentary delegations of EFTA members and a forum for dialogue with ministers from our countries. It is providing new and creative structures such as the joint meetings of the CMP and MPS, bringing together the delegations of those EFTA members that are part of the EEA with the delegation from my own country, Switzerland. It continues to serve as an excellent channel of information between EFTA and the parliaments of its Member States, and it will also contribute to the further developments beyond Europe. In fact, EFTA's third country relations will probably become increasingly important, as the world turns into the proverbial global village. The experience of our parliamentary committees may prove very valuable in the context our developing relationships with countries outside Europe.

I am convinced that our Committee will have an important role to play in the years to come, and I look forward to its work in this new millennium.

Marcel Sandoz,

Chairman of Committee of Members of Parliament CMP
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Title Annotation:Chairman of the Committee of Members of Parliament
Author:Sandoz, Marcel
Publication:EFTA Bulletin (Switzerland)
Date:Jan 1, 2000
Words:562
Previous Article:Democracy and European integration.
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