EU launches €4.75M programme to assist functions of Senate, NA


The European Union (EU) launched its first cooperation programme worth €4.75 million in support of Pakistan’s Parliament to assist in discharging its core parliamentary functions like legislation, oversight and representation. The EU programme ‘Improving Parliamentary Performance’ (IP3) emphasised on the work and performance of parliamentary committees, the “engines” of any parliament. It will also facilitate improved links between Pakistan’s Parliament and the European Parliament.
“The programme is the first building block in a wider structural partnership with Pakistan’s democratic institutions, including also the provincial and legislative assemblies who will benefit from a similar programme in the coming years,” said a news release of the EU
Acting President and Senate Chairman Syed Nayyer Hussain Bokhari was the chief guest at the launching ceremony, hosted by the Pakistan Institute for Parliamentary Services (PIPS) on Wednesday night. EU Ambassador to Pakistan Lars-Gunnar Wigemark underlined that “the EU’s support to Pakistan’s Parliament is a concrete example of its resolve to be a constructive and sincere partner of Pakistan by strengthening essential democratic institutions such as the parliament which is the bedrock of democracy in Pakistan and deserves our full support”.
The EU and Pakistan recently agreed to upgrade their relations to the level of strategic partners and Wigermark noted that “our joint Five Year Engagement Plan refers to the determination of EU and Pakistan to strengthen our parliamentary cooperation”.
Reflecting on the 2012 award of Nobel Peace Price to the EU, Wigemark stressed that “the European Union’s experience reflects how a well functioning parliamentary democracy is essential for peace and stability both domestically and at a regional level. By working together as fully fledged parliamentary democracies, the EU member states have been able to overcome their historical animosities and assist one another in good and bad times”.
The EU-Pakistan cooperation programme, IP3, will tap into the potential of Pakistan’s numerous young graduates by providing a cadre of junior experts to parliamentary committees, secretariats and PIPS. The €4.75 million programme will be carried out until end of 2014 by the British Council, leading a consortium of local and international partners.
IP3 has the following four priorities: supporting members of the National Assembly, Senate, parliamentary committees, secretariats and PIPS in their work by providing expertise and capacity building for thematic and legislative research, parliamentary oversight, making the work of parliament more transparent and accessible to the citizens through support to comprehensive public outreach strategy of PIPS, helping the parliament to build a more effective relationship with the media, engaging the public and civil society to work more closely with the parliament; increasing parliament’s capacity to promote international human rights standards and to work on electoral legal frameworks through specialised advice on mainstreaming human rights in legislative business in compliance with Pakistan’s international commitments.

The programme will also support the ongoing electoral reform process, strengthening the links between Pakistani Parliament and the European Parliament to encourage better understanding of issues of mutual interest, sharing of best practices and promoting exchanges between parliamentarians and staff working in parliaments.
PIPS Executive Khan Ahmed Goraya noted, “We are aware that the European Union has designed the project after a careful and comprehensive assessment process completed with close cooperation and support of the parliament. The key priority areas were determined for the project in consultation with Senate of Pakistan, National Assembly and the Pakistan Institute for Parliamentary Services and the project envisages supporting the parliamentary committees in cooperation with the Institute which would definitely enhance their effectiveness and would enable them to carry out unbiased accountability and oversight of the executive. The project aims at promoting transparency and access to the parliament, which in itself is one of the key ingredients of a society ensuring merit, competence and good governance”.