Your Excellency, Speaker of the Lebanese Parliament, Mr Nabih Berri,
Ladies and gentlemen,
I am very happy to be here today at the official residence of the Speaker of the Parliament to celebrate a very concrete example of the good cooperation between the European Union and Lebanon. I am particularly happy to be here at a time when we all hope and expect that things will soon go more back to normal and that Parliament will resume its normal functioning and again contribute to the democratic life of this country.
All of us in the diplomatic community had a chance to see the Parliament in action during the recent election of the President of the Republic, and think all would agree that it was an interesting and intense morning, but also an experience that gave an impression of the good spirit existing in Parliament in spite of the political differences. And I am not sure that a bill tracking system or even electronic voting would have been a solution to the minor hick-ups in the process we saw that day. But it was a good day and we wish Lebanon the best of success now that the democratic institutions can resume their functions.
A successful and sustainable democracy requires not only the existence of democratic institutions, but - above all - their efficient and transparent functioning. In this regard, the European Union believes that supporting democratic institutions worldwide is a priority. We believe that democracy remains the only system of governance where people can fully claim their human rights, which is a determining factor for development and long-term stability.
Although the European Union has been supporting the Lebanese reform agenda since many years, our direct support to the Lebanese parliament began quite recently with a project that established an "Advisory Unit" within the Parliament to provide technical support and expertise for key parliamentary committees. Our support continued further with our on-going project under which the Bill Tracking System and the mobile application have been devised. This project is also strengthening the Lebanese Parliament's staff professional skills in key areas such as legislative drafting, scrutiny analysis and information management. And I am very pleased to confirm that the Parliament has always shown great determination and commitment to ensure the continued collaboration and cooperation with the European Union.
The system that we are launching here today has been an attempt to help the Lebanese Parliament modernising its procedures and making the best out of the latest technological tools with a Legislative Bill Tracking System and the Mobile Application.
There are two key advantages of this system that I think are worth highlighting: First, it simplifies the process of searching, updating and monitoring the progress or result of all bills. Secondly, it creates a high degree of transparency and helps the public view the topics that are being discussed in Parliament, thus facilitating the lobbying and advocating activities between parliamentarians and Lebanese citizens.
And where would we be today without an app? With the rise of smartphones and tablet computers, the technology has built bridges between decision-makers and between voters and their representatives. It can, as it has already done in many countries across the world, help the Lebanese parliamentarians and members of the public keep up with the activities and information surrounding new bills, changes to legislation and the large number of existing bills.
I would like to thank all of you for being here today but in particular H.E. Speaker Nabih Berri for his continued support and MP Yassin Jaber for his engagement in this project. I think this very concrete and tangible project is a good example of what we can do together, and we look forward to our future cooperation with the Lebanese Parliament and assist you becoming ever more more efficient and transparent in your functioning.