On Thursday 12 and Friday 13 October, the President and Vice-President of the Foreign Affairs Committee (AFET) of the European Parliament, David McAllister and Željana Zovko, made an official visit to San Marino.
The MEPs, welcomed by Minister for Foreign Affairs, Luca Beccari, reiterated strong support for the Republic’s path towards association with the European Union. A clear message emerged from the visit, which included a meeting with Minister Beccari, an audience with Their Excellencies Captains Regent, H.E. Filippo Tamagnini and H.E. Gaetano Troina, and a hearing before the San Marino Foreign Affairs Committee: both parties are working with determination to achieve what will be the broadest of all agreements with a third-country ever signed with the EU.
This visit coincides with a historic moment for San Marino. The negotiation is at a critical stage, and as emphasized by the President of the AFET Committee, Mr. McAllister, “the time window for concluding the negotiation is narrowing. With the European elections scheduled between June 6 and June 9, 2024, it is crucial to reach the Agreement’s finalization by the end of the year”. This date had indeed been indicated in June 2022 by the Vice President of the European Commission responsible for the Agreement, Mr. Maros Šefčovič, as the goal for concluding the negotiations. Since then, meetings between the parties have been held on a monthly basis, and significant progress has been made on numerous issues.
Once concluded, the Agreement will have a significant impact on San Marino’s economy, promoting greater integration into the European single market while maintaining the Republic’s specificities. The importance of San Marino and Andorra’s association with the EU within the current geopolitical context and their peculiarities was reaffirmed by the Vice President of the AFET Committee, Ms. Zovko: “We want to get to know you and see your specificities. These are unique agreements with the EU, and they are important because they concern the security and stability of Europe, and every country, even small ones, matters greatly. There is interest on both sides in being together and working together because the global context today is complex”.
Minister Beccari emphasized the importance of bilateral and multilateral relations with European institutions and highlighted the value of open dialogue with the European Parliament, emphasizing that the negotiation is based on political will as well as technical issues. He stated, “Forms of dialogue and open discussion are important, including the European parliamentary dimension, which offers us the opportunity to share the democratic path of our institutions in relation to the new status we will assume towards the European Union and also in the face of global scenarios that require extensive cooperation among states”.
President McAllister and Vice President Zovko also attended a meeting with the San Marino Permanent Council Foreign Affairs Committee. During the exchange of views, the fundamental role of the European Parliament in approving the final text of the Agreement was recognized, and in this perspective, the endorsement expressed by the two deputies is crucial. During the meeting, the deep connection between San Marino and the EU, based on the sharing of values, principles, and economic, territorial, and cultural ties, was reaffirmed, as well as the Republic’s role in promoting democracy and human rights internationally.
The parties expressed their willingness to pursue more structured relations between the parliaments to deepen mutual understanding and enhance cooperation. In this regard, the establishment of a dedicated body for dialogue between the institutions was hoped for.
At this stage, the ongoing negotiation is particularly intense, and the Agreement is nearing completion. A key moment is expected for the coming week: on Tuesday, October 24, Minister Beccari will be in Brussels to meet with the Executive Vice President of the European Commission, Mr. Šefčovič, to delve into the key issues of the Agreement with a view to concluding the negotiations by the end of the year.