The Commission has put forward its proposal for the new Multiannual Financial Framework of the European Union for the period 2014-2020. The Multiannual Financial Framework is the main budgeting document of the EU for the seven-year period, and little can be changed once it is adopted. The proposal has to be approved by the Member States and the Parliament.
The main innovations:
- A new fund for financing infrastructure, the Connecting Europe Facility that includes a preliminary list of transport, energy and ICT projects;
- Stronger link of cohesion financing with the Europe 2020 objectives;
- New category of ‘transition regions’;
- New conditionality provisions;
- Partnership contracts with each Member State to ensure mutual reinforcement of national and EU funding;
- An integrated programme of €15.2 billion for education, training and youth, with a clear focus on developing skills and mobility;
- A common EU strategy called “Horizon 2020” for investment in research and innovation worth 80 billion €;
- 30% of direct support to farmers will be conditional on “greening” their businesses;
- €4.1 billion for the fight against crime and terrorism and €3.4 billion for migration and asylum policies.
- New own resources for financing the budget- a financial transaction tax (Tobin tax) and a new modernized VAT;
- Simplification of the existing correction mechanisms.
You can also read the critical assessment of the proposal by Charlemagne. Real Time Brussels looks at the fierce political battles that will likely emerge in the process of adoption of the Multiannual Financial Framework.
Posted in Agriculture and Fisheries, Budget and Finance, Education, Science and Culture, Energy, Enterprise, Environment, Foreign and Security Policy, Institutional Affairs, Justice and Internal Affairs, Regional Policy, Taxes and Duties, Transport
Tagged 2014-2020, cohesion, EU funds, Europe 2020, European Commission, European Union, infrastructure, management and control, Multiannual Financial Framework, own resources, Tobin Tax
The Commission has proposed a set of measures to address the harm that corruption causes to European societies. The Commission is setting up a new mechanism, the EU Anti-Corruption Report, to monitor and assess Member States’ efforts against corruption and encourage more political engagement. Supported by an expert group and a network of research correspondents, and the necessary EU budget, the Report will be managed by the Commission and published every two years, starting in 2013. It will identify trends and weaknesses that need to be addressed, as well as stimulate peer learning and exchange of best practices.
How effective will the report be? It’s a very good sign that the EU will have a more focused approach towards diagnosing serious corruption in Member states. But it’s far from certain that ample treatment will follow the diagnosis. If we consider the experience with the reports under the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism for Bulgaria and Romania, it appears that the Commission reports stir a lot of emotions and produce fewer practical results.
Any effort to independently monitor corruption levels in any Member state should be commended. The Commission should also consider benefiting from the existing monitoring mechanisms set up by Transparency International and OECD.
France and Italy have signaled their desire to push for a reform of the Schengen framework for border control. One of the most important proposals is the procedural right to temporarily re-establish border controls between two countries. The European Commission is scheduled to present its own plans for amending the Schengen rules next week (4 May).
The Schengen border security legal framework is now part of the EU acquis. Any revision of the Schengen framework goes through a codecision procedure, where the European Parliament is a co-legislator with the Council (see art. 77, para. 2 TFEU). More, the Commission is the only body that can propose legislation on border checks, asylum and immigration (see a contrario art. 76 TFEU). Whatever France and Italy propose is of no relevance; the Member States do not have a right of initiative on these matters.
On all these accounts I am quite skeptical that Italy and France will succeed to push an amendment of the Schengen framework that seriously undermines the principles of the current regime. Any significant policy overhaul must be accompanied by a careful impact assessment and discussions not only among governments of Member States, but also with relevant stakeholders. It will take more than a bilateral summit to do that.
Regulation (EU) No 182/2011 laying down the rules and general principles concerning mechanisms for control by Member States of the Commission’s exercise of implementing powers has been published in the Official Journal. It repeals Decision 1999/468/EC (the old ‘Comitology Decision’). There are now two comitology procedures – the advisory procedure and the examination procedure. The advisory procedure is the same as in the old Comitology Decision. The examination procedure replaces the management and regulatory procedures. The examination committee can approve or reject the implementing measure with qualified majority (the same voting rules as in the Council apply). In case no decision is taken, depending on the subject matter of the implementing measure, the Commission can either adopt the measure or submit it to an appeal committee, where new, final voting takes place.
All the legal and institutional issues on delegated lawmaking and the new comitology regime are reviewed in my new paper for the EUSA conference.
This is a very special day. The European Parliament has confirmed today the agreement with the Council on the new regulation on implementing powers for the Commission. This new regulation, will enter into force on 1st March and will automatically replace the existing system.
As in the past, the mechanism of control foreseen by the regulation is based on “comitology” – i.e. committees composed by representatives of Member States to which the Commission submits draft implementing measures – but, contrary to the present system, there can be no intervention from the Council as an appeal body. In some specific cases there might be a need to go to an “appeal committee”, but this is just a “normal” committee, chaired by the Commission, albeit of a higher level of representation. It provides the opportunity to reconsider the draft measures or to r make changes if need be.
The regulation foresees that implementing measures in policy areas such as trade defence measures will be included in the normal regime. Until now these measures were submitted to special procedures in which the Council frequently had the last word.
The new procedures also give more flexibility to the Commission and a greater political responsibility. In the absence of a qualified majority against or in favour of a Commission draft implementing act, the Commission will have the choice between adopting the act or reviewing it.
I am currently writing an article on the new legal regime of comitology, which will be available on this blog somewhere in February 2011.
Posted in EU Reform, Institutional Affairs, Procedural Law
Tagged advisory procedure, comitology, committees, Council, European Commission, European Parliament, examination procedure, implementing powers, Reform, Treaty of Lisbon
The European Commission is calling for new stress tests for European banks. The reason? Well, it appears that the previous stress tests during the summer failed to spot huge problems at the heart of Ireland’s financial institutions.
Oli Rehn is quoted saying that Ireland’s banking meltdown was a one-off case that would not be repeated elsewhere in Europe. Well, I disagree.
Back in July I noted that stress tests must also include really worst-case scenarios, as in worst-case scenarios. Worst, not best. And all of them. We know that summer stress tests failed to do that. Now we are led to believe that the new stress tests will do the job. That is unlikely.
The problem is analyzed very well by Richard Field. He claims that there is only one way to restore trust and erect a firewall against contagion. Governments must make the statement about which banks are or are not solvent in their system and make the asset-level data available to support it.
The Constitutional Affairs Committee of the European Parliament, the Commission and the Council have reached an agreement on the so-called citizens’ initiative (art. 24 TFEU). The citizens’ initiative allows one million citizens to ask the Commission to propose a new EU law. The main points:
- the admissibility check on an initiative will be made at the point of registration,
- a citizens’ committee of at least seven members coming from seven Member States should be set up to register an initiative,
- the signatories must come from a minimum one-quarter of the Member States,
- the Commission will help initiative organisers by providing a user-friendly guide and setting up a point of contact,
- if an initiative manages to collect one million signatures, a proper follow-up will be guaranteed, including a public hearing,
- Member States will choose how to verify the authenticity of signatures.
The 2011 budget of the European Union is in tatters after an unsuccessful negotiation session between the European Parliament and the Council. The budget procedure must now start anew, with the Commission proposing a new draft budget. The apple of discord has been the Parliament’s demand to participate in the negotiation of the next multiannual budget framework (2014-2020).
According to some diplomats cited by EUobserver, the Parliament wrongly assumed that member states would agree to a budget out of fear of being labeled as “anti-European” in case of a breakdown in talks.
Well, obviously they weren’t. Three countries – Netherlands, Sweden and the United Kingdom, refused even to consider the demands of the Parliament. “There will be a budget, based on 2010 figures. There is no drama, the world won’t go under,” said one diplomat to EUobserver.
But of course. Who cares if the EU malfunctions due to underfunding? And how dare the Parliament ask for a role in negotiating the multiannual budget framework?
The governments of the Member States seem to suffer from some very peculiar type of schizophrenia. It was them that approved the equal status of the Parliament in the budget procedure. It was them that actively advocated in 2009 for the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon. It was them that welcomed “a major step forward” for Europe. But now they are ready to block the EU budget in order to prevent the European Parliament from participating in talks for the multiannual budget.
This attitude of hostility towards supranational institutions and the European Union as a whole already peaked with the disgraceful treatment of the President of the Commission during the European Council meeting while discussing the deportation of Roma citizens from France. It has now been shown once again in the form of nonchalant attitude to the EU budget procedure, as if it doesn’t matter anyway.
It does matter, as will be shown in the first months of 2011 when budget rollover from 2010 will be used. But I am much more worried about the obvious lack of ownership of the European idea in Member States’ governments. They seem to distrust both the integration agenda and the supranational institutions it implies. This is a well-trod path to institutional paralysis and inefficiency.