Tag Archives: approval

Member States Criticize Proposal on GMO

The Member States have criticized and in fact rejected a proposal by the European Commission on a new type of regulation on genetically modified organisms (GMOs). According to EUobserver both pro-GMO and anti-GMO Member States have objected the newly proposed regime. The Commission proposal provides that the general approval of the GMO will still be made on EU level under current rules, but once GMOs are approved, Member States will be able to decide whether to allow the introduction of the GMOs on their territory or not.

This reaction is not surprising, but the current discord on GMOs must be managed somehow. So the Commission proposal at least provides a starting point for negotiations. Member States should also keep in mind that they need the approval of the European Parliament, where reaching a consensus will also be difficult.

Finally: a New Regime for GMO Approval

The Commission has finally made a proposal on a new regime for the approval of genetically modified organisms (GMO). The Commission proposes to confer to Member States the freedom to allow, restrict or ban the cultivation of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) on part or all of their territory. The general approval of the GMO will still be made on EU level under current rules, but once GMOs are approved, Member States will be able to decide whether to allow the introduction of the GMOs on their territory or not.

After almost 10 years after the adoption of Directive 2001/18/EC the Commission has made a positive step forward for the resolution of this very serious problem. The stalled comitology procedure for the approval of GMOs has been a rare example of systemic institutional failure of the EU (see also the excellent book by Mark Pollack and Gregory Shaffer: When cooperation fails: the international law and politics of genetically modified foods). Now, hopefully, this will change.

Given the fact that both the biotech industry and the environmentalists criticize the proposal, there may be a grain of salt to it.

Commission Approval Vote Rescheduled?

The vote for approval of the whole college of commissioners will probably be postponed for 9 February. The new Bulgarian commissioner designate, Kristalina Georgieva, will likely be heard in the European Parliament on 3 February.

Meanwhile the second hearing on Neelie Kroes -commissioner-designate for the Digital Agenda, has gone well. This means that probably the only replacement will be the Bulgarian Georgieva, and the Barroso II team will be approved.

The former commissioner designate, Mrs. Jeleva, will step down from her position as Bulgarian minister of foreign affairs.

Start of Hearings of Commissioner Designates

The hearings of commissioner designates start today in the European Parliament. The hearings are expected to end on January, 19th. A vote of approval for the whole college of commissioners is scheduled for January, 26th. However, the voting may be postponed depending on the results from the hearings.

Bulgarian commissioner designate, Rumiana Jeleva, will appear before members of the Committee on Development on January, 12th, at 16:30 Brussels time (17:30 Bulgarian time).

The hearings may be followed online through the EP Live service.

Important Institutional Dimensions of the Commission Selection Process

Now we have Jose Manuel Barroso approved as the next President of the European Commission. However, the procedure does not end here; now the College of commissioners should be selected.

This, in turn, demands the exploration of two problems, relevant to the composition of the next Commission, as well as to its political orientation.

First, as I have already pointed out, for the first time the President of the Commission has presented his political program before being approved by the European Parliament. One can say that this was made on the spur of the moment. However, during the debate prior to the approval vote, Guy Verhofstadt, leader of the liberals and democrats in the EP, had this to say:

“Our support is very clear. It is conditional. That means that our support will last until we see that these elements [from the political guidelines] will be found in the whole program of the Commission (…)

Finally, our support also will depend, as you know it, on the new structure of the Commission.”

This statement by Mr. Verhofstadt means that the future Commission will be put under direct political scrutiny at least by the liberal democrats and more, that Mr. Barroso will have to accommodate particular demands on the structure and distribution of mandates in the Commission.

Second, and much, much more important – we have the issue of the Treaty of Lisbon. Even if the referendum in Ireland is successful, I very much doubt that all ratification documents will be deposited with the Italian government before October, 31st. That is very important, because art. 6 of the Treaty of Lisbon says that it will enter into force “on the first day of the month following the deposit of the instrument of ratification by the last signatory State to take this step.” There are many signals that the Czech Republic and/or Poland may delay the ratification.

Now, if the Treaty of Lisbon has not entered into force on November 1st, then we need to elect the European Commission by the rules provided by the Treaty of Nice. That follows from art. 4, para. 2 and the following of the Treaty of Nice. The rules of that treaty stipulate that the number of commissioners should be less than 27. More, these rules require the unanimous approval by the Council of a “rotation system based on the principle of equality” for the election of members of the Commission.

commission

Some say that we can approve the college by the rules of the Treaty of Lisbon provided that we have certainty about the future date of entry into force of that treaty (say, in December). Unfortunately this is not the case. If the Treaty of Lisbon has not entered into force on November, 1st and if the Commission was appointed by the rules of that same treaty, then anyone can challenge the legality of that act of appointment on the basis of violation of primary Community law.

European Parliament Approves Barroso

The European Parliament has approved the candidacy of Jose Manuel Barroso for President of the European Commission. 382 MEPs voted for, 219 against, and 117 sustained. There were minor technical difficulties with the voting equipment before the vote.

The debate on 15 September revealed strong divisions among MEPs about the Barroso candidature (you can see the video here). Mr. Barroso answered critics by saying:

“If you want a strong Commission, that has the rights and initiative to defend the European interest, at least give me the benefit of the doubt.”

The leader of the Socialist and Democrats group, Martin Schulz, responded that:

“He[Mr. Barroso] is an excellent advocate for the interests of the Council.”

The main argument, it appears, remains the independence of the Commission itself. Now Mr. Barroso has a new mandate to disprove such allegations.