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
I am glad to inform you that the first delegated regulations under the new hierarchy of EU legal acts have been published. The delegated regulations are adopted by the European Commission without needing the approval of a comitology committee. Delegated acts supplement or amend certain non-essential elements of the legislative act (art. 290 TFEU).
The idea for an amendment of the founding Treaties in order to accommodate a permanent bail-out mechanism is on the table after the last European Council meeting. Now there are new developments and opinions that touch on this subject.
CEPS has published three reports that contemplate on possible Treaty amendments – a post-mortem on the European Council, an overview of revision procedures under the Lisbon Treaty, and a more specific overview of the practicalities of the Lisbon Treaty revision(s). All documents suggest that a limited revision of the Treaties is achievable. The more specific proposals are:
- amending art. 122 TFEU, and including a reference to financial stability (plus a permanent European Financial Stability Facility – EFSF, created on an intergovernmental basis), or
- adding a reference to art. 143 TFEU – the legal basis to extend the existing EU support mechanism to non-euro area member countries in art. 136 TFEU – the special Treaty article for the euro area countries.
The authors note that the viability of both approaches will depend on the interpretation whether such an amendment would affect the no-bailout clause in Art. 125 TFEU, thereby changing the nature of monetary union and creating a fiscal transfer union (in German Transferunion). Additionally, it is arguable whether such an amendment would constitute a change to the “essential scope and objectives” of the EU, thus requiring an ordinary revision procedure.
Meanwhile some Dutch parties are trying to force a preliminary referendum on any pending Lisbon Treaty amendments.
It appears that any proposal for Treaty amendment must be considered very carefully in the light of possible ratification, as well as taking into account the no-bailout clause of art. 125 TFEU. My personal conviction is that any institutionalisation of a permanent bailout mechanism is legally troublesome, and in any case should be subject to ordinary revision procedure. But first of all we need to see the amendments in print before speculating on their legal essence.
The Center for European Policy Studies (CEPS), Egmont (Belgium’s Royal Institute of International Affairs) and the European Policy Centre (EPC) have come together to publish a second study of the institutional innovations included of the Treaty of Lisbon. The authors have identified ten issues that they explore in length. A couple of general conclusions are made:
- The institutional system of the European Union has become more complex;
- The European Parliament and the European Council have clearly been reinforced by the Treaty of Lisbon;
- The Lisbon Treaty reinforces and accelerates an evolution towards increased joint management.
I recommend this publication to anyone interested in the institutional dynamics of the European Union.
You may have heard of it – one of the leftovers of the Treaty of Lisbon is the question about the 18 missing MEP seats. The 2009 European Parliament elections were conducted under the old rules with a total of 736 MEPs, because the Treaty of Lisbon was not yet in force. Under the Treaty of Lisbon there had to be 754 MEPs. That is why 18 MEPs could not take their places unless a new Intergovernmental conference (IGC) was conducted, and a Treaty amendment was ratified.
This IGC has speedily approved the text of the amendment, and so has the European Parliament. But the 18 MEPs will only be able to take their places in the EP after the ratification process is concluded in all the 27 Member States.
The European Council has adopted two decisions that are based on the new institutional arrangements in the Treaty of Lisbon that entered into force yesterday.
The first decision provides that the Presidency of the Council, with the exception of the Foreign Affairs configuration, wil be held by pre-established groups of three Member States for a period of 18 months. Each member of the group will in turn chair for a six-month period all configurations of the Council. The other members of the group will assist the Chair in all its responsibilities on the basis of a common programme.
The second decision adopts the Rules of Procedure of the European Council.
The newest revision of the founding treaties – the Treaty of Lisbon, has entered into force. This is a good day for the European integration after a very difficult period of debate.
So what will change now?
- Few main changes may be outlined:
- The European Union becomes a legal entity;
- The three pillars (European Community, Foreign and Security Policy, Justice and Home Affairs) are merged together;
- A new rule of double qualified majority in the Council (from 2014);
- Co-decision becomes the ordinary legislative procedure;
- Early-warning system allows national parliaments of the Member States to indicate when the subsidiarity principle may have been violated;
- Creation of the post of President of the European Council (for 2.5 years);
- Creation of a High Representative of the Union for Foreign
- Affairs and Security Policy who is also a Vice-president of the Commission;
- Right of citizens’ initiative, etc.
During the next few days I will attempt to summarize more information about the most important reforms.
Jean Quatremer has done the unthinkable – he has lifted the sacred veil of secret deliberations for the nomination of the first President of the European Council.
If his information is credible, then it appears that the President of France, Nicholas Sarkozy, has unilaterally opposed the candidacy of the prime minister of Luxembourg, Jean-Claude Juncker. All the other 26 Member States supported Mr. Juncker’s bid, but Mr. Sarkozy reportedly “vetoed” without stating any reasons.
Mr. Quatremer says that the Swedish Prime Minister then proposed Herman van Rompuy, not wanting to propose a formal vote. This was done although the Treaty of Lisbon requires a qualified majority, rather than anonymity, to appoint the President of the European Council.