An important laboratory in the EU
Gusty Graas has been the president of the Benelux parliament for 2 years. The institution was founded via a convention in 1955. Thepresidency rotation plan is organised in such a way, that the MP hands over his post in December and becomes vice-president.
The member of the foreign and European affairs Chambers commission, and current vice-president of the European Council (“I have always been interested in international politics”) has now been in the BENELUX parliament for 7 years. The parliament’s task is to elaborate proposals, which concern the common interests of the member states, for the governments in Den Haag, Brussels and Luxembourg.
Three states that are historically and tightly bound. Gusty Graas mentions the new military plane which is stationed in Belgium as an example: “We also regularly vote laws, where BENELUX has negotiated agreements with other countries”. The Benelux parliament only plays an advisory role, but it can give important incentives to governments and national parliaments. Each year there are three plenaries.
This year, COVID 19 was the dominant topic of course: “I could have imagined a better coordination, a better exchange, between Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Belgium – especially in the beginning of the pandemic”, Gusty Graas says with consciousness: “We also held meetings, to improve the cooperation during the pandemic and we intervened in writing to the three Prime Ministers”. For Gusty Graas the Benelux parliament is a sort of laboratory inside of the EU. As such, parliament also discusses e.g. the recognition of diplomas or cross border exchanges.
The international contacts with the German federal states of North Rhine-Westphalia and Rhineland-Palatinate, same as with the greater region of Lille, are also important. Similar contacts exist with comparable organisations such as the Nordic Council, the Baltic Assembly or the Visegrád Group. “We are a role model formany of those groups. They want what we have already achieved with the Benelux parliament” Gusty Graas explains.
Gusty Graas‘ presidency was coined by 4 principal points: climate protection, mobility, Brexit and organic agriculture. There was also a symposium on the latter in Bettembourg.
For Gusty Grass the Benelux Parliament remains an important instrument: “Europe can only function, if such structures exist between different countries – always embedded in the EU principles. There are enough reasons to uphold the work of this institution and even to reinforce it”.