Opening of the 6th meeting of the Association of European Senates

Warsaw - May 25th, 2004

Esteemed Presidents,

Dear Guests:

It is with great pleasure and joy that I welcome you to Warsaw in the Senate of the Polish Republic, which for the first time has the honor of hosting a meeting of the Association of European Senates. As you recall, the Association was established in Paris in November 2000 on the initiative of the president of the French Senate, Mister Christian Poncelet, present among us today, for which I wish to thank him kindly.

We also appreciate the active role played by the French Senate, which took the initiative to organize initial meetings of this type. It all started with the Forum of World Senates, which took place in March 2000 and drew presidents and representatives of more than 50 upper chambers from around the world, continued with a meeting that established the Association in November of the same year and was followed by a working meeting in Paris in June 2001, devoted to the role played by Senates in the representation of local self-governments.

Our current meeting is already the sixth working meeting and this time it is devoted to a very current and important topic - the role played by upper chambers of national parliaments in the European Union and in the process of European integration. An in-depth discussion of this topic is particularly important for us today, when in an enlarged Union, among its 25 members, two new additions - the Czech Republic and the Republic of Poland - have bicameral parliaments.

I hope that these two senates will make a significant contribution to the debate and enrich the democratic system and procedures of our European family. We attach a great deal of importance to an exchange of opinions and experiences concerning these very significant current issues, particularly issues concerning the role played by senates and upper chambers in activities associated with the European Union, legal bases of these activities, as well as the scope and methods of the functioning of parliamentary European Union affairs committees.

We will also thoroughly discuss mutual relations between parliaments, senates and governments concerning European issues. I am convinced that these meetings, which enrich our knowledge of various aspects of upper chamber activities, an issue of particular importance in today's enlarged Europe, and which underline the upper chamber law-making significance, will also contribute to becoming better acquainted with and understanding of each other.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Dear Guests:

I wish you interesting and fruitful deliberations. I am glad this meeting is taking place in Warsaw in a year commemorating the 15th anniversary of the re-establishment of the Polish Senate. I also wish you a pleasant stay in springtime Warsaw and in Gdańsk on the Baltic coast.