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EU Decision-Making Process Maruxa Cardama Principal European Officer AER Summer School 28 August 2006
Structure of the Presentation • The Decision-Making Process in the EU • The Impact of EU Decisions • Supranational Governance • EU Institutions • Decision-making at EU Level • The South West of England and SWUKBO • How Can Regions Influence the Process? Examples from SWUKBO
The Decision-Making Process in the European Union
The Impact of EU Decisions • EU legislates in all areas of public policy: market, social policy, environment, agriculture, regional policy,research & development, law and order, citizenship,human rights, international trade, foreign policy, defence,consumer affairs, transport, public health, education and culture • EU sets over 80% of rulesgoverning the production, distribution, exchange of goods, services and capital • About 300 of pieces of EU legislation every year - More than in any other single set of policy institutions in the democratic world! • Primacy over national law and direct effect • Several Member States receive around 5% of their GDP from the EU budget • Powerful indirect effect on the distribution of resources between individuals, groups and nations in the EU
Supranational Governance The EU is a complex institutional and policy environment with different actors
The EU is a complex institutional and policy environment… • European Council (Summit): Sets guidelines and objectives. Adopts final agreements. Reforms the Treaty • European Commission: Right of initiative and delegated implementing powers. Control over Member States’ implementation of EU legislation. Control over Member States’ economic policy • European Parliament: Represents citizens. General legislative powers • Committee of the Regions and Economic and Social Committee: Consultative bodies. Compulsory consultation for certain areas • Council of the EU: Represents the Member States. General legislative powers. Sets the political agenda with the Commission • Court of Justice: Judges over the legality of acts • European Central Bank: EU monetary policy
… with different actors Other European Interests - Lobby Groups • Regions and Cities: AER, CEMR, CPMR, Eurocities, and other specialised organisations like EPRO (environment), ERRIN (research & innovation), ISLENET (energy and environment), POLIS (transport), REGLEG (legislative competences), etc. • Business and Industries: UEAPME (Craft and SMEs), UNICE (industrial and employers’ confederations) and many others in different sectors • European networks & associations in different sectors • NGOs … and a long etc.
Main EU Institutions European Investment Bank (EIB) European Court of Justice (ECJ) European Central Bank (ECB) Court of Auditors EU Agencies European Commission (EC) Lobbyists Directive Regulation Decision Council of Ministers European Parliament (EP) Committee of the Regions (CoR) Economic & Social Committee (EESC)
European Commission 25 Members of the Commission Info and contacts Cabinets Directorate Generals and Services
EC College (from 18 November 2004) José Manuel BARROSO(P) - President Margot WALLSTRÖM(S) - Institutional Relations & Communication Strategy, VP Günter VERHEUGEN(D) - Enterprise & Industry, VP Jacques BARROT(F) - Transport, VP Siim KALLAS(EST) - Administrative Affairs, Audit & Anti-Fraud, VP Franco FRATTINI(I) - Justice, Freedom & Security, VP Viviane REDING(L) - Information Society & Media Stavros DIMAS(GR) - Environment Joaquin ALMUNIA(E) - Economic & Monetary Affairs Danuta HÜBNER(PL) - Regional Policy Joe BORG(MAL) - Fisheries and Maritime Affairs Dalia GRYBAUSKAITE(LIT) - Financial Programming and Budget Janez POTOČNIK(SLV)- Science & Research
EC College (from 18 November 2004) Ján FIGEL(SLK) - Education, Training, Culture, & Multilinguism Markos KYPRIANOU(CYP) - Health & Consumers Protection Olli REHN(FI)- Enlargement Louis MICHEL(B) - Development & Humanitarian Aid László KOVÁCS(HU) - Taxation & Customs Union Neelie KROES(NL) - Competition Mariann FISCHER BOEL(DK) - Agriculture & Rural Development Benita FERRERO-WALDNER(AU) - External Relations & European Neighbourhood Policy Charlie McCREEVY(IRE) - Internal Market & Services Vladimir SPIDLA (CZ) - Employment, Social Affairs & Equal Opportunities Peter MANDELSON(UK) - Trade Andris PIEBALGS(LAT) - Energy
European Commission’s main roles • To propose legislation to the Parliament and the Council: Initiative • To administer and implement EU policies • To enforce Community law (jointly with the Court of Justice) • To act as a mouthpiece for the EU and negotiate international agreements, mainly those relating to trade and cooperation
Council of Ministers European Council/Summit Heads of State & Government Council of Ministers National Ministers in 9 configurations Council General secretary + High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy Presidency of the Council 6 month term Coreper I Technical Deputy Permanent Representatives Coreper II Political Permanent Representatives Permanent Representations to the EU Mertens Group Antici Group Working Groups Diplomats and Experts Info and contacts
Votes in the Council of Ministers Nice Treaty(to be replaced by “double majority” system under new EU Constitution)
European Parliament Political Parties Secretariat EP President Committees Permanent and ad hoc Secretariat National Delegations MEPs Info and contacts
Votes in the European Parliament732 MEPs directly elected by EU citizens in June 2004 Members: Germany 99 UK 78 Italy 78 France 78 Spain 54 Poland 54 Netherlands 27 Portugal 24 Belgium 24 Greece 24 Czech Rep. 24 Hungary 24 Sweden 19 Austria 18 Finland 16 Denmark 14 Slovakia 14 Ireland 13Lithuania 13 Latvia 9 Slovenia 7 Luxembourg 6 Estonia 6 Cyprus 6 Malta 5 Political Parties: Conservatives 268 Socialists 200 Liberals 88 Greens 42 United left 41 Others 93
Consultative or Advisory Bodies European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) • Represents the “organised civil society”: employers, trade unions, farmers, consumers and the other interest groups Committee of the Regions (CoR) • Represents “the voice of the regions at the heart of the EU” and it’s composed of elected representatives of regional and local authorities • Compulsory consultation before EU decisions are taken on matters which concern local and regional government, such as regional policy, the environment, education and transport • But its opinion does not have to be taken on board
Committee of the Regions CoR President Bureau CoR Secretary General Commissions Secretariat Political Parties Secretariat Elected Members National Delegations Info and contacts
Decision-making at EU Level • Involves various European institutions, in particular • The European Commission (EC), • The European Parliament (EP), • The Council of the European Union • In general Commission proposes new legislation, but Council and Parliament pass the laws. Other institutions and bodies also have roles to play (e.g. Committee of the Regions CoR) • The rules of procedure are laid down in the Treaties: Every proposal for a new European is based on a specific “legal basis” or article of the Treaty, which determines the legislative procedure to be followed • The three main procedures are “consultation”, “assent” and “co-decision”
The Three Main EU Procedures EU uses three main ways to take decisions, depending on the legal basis for the decision Co-decision was introduced by the Maastricht Treaty. requires two readings by Parliament and Council, and conciliation if they can not agree Consultation: the opinion of the Parliament is sought and integrated in Commission's proposal. If the Council decides to reject the proposal it can then only be done by unanimity Assent was introduced by the Single European Act and means that the Council must obtain the European parliament's assent before certain important decisions are taken. Parliament can accept or reject a proposal, but can not amend it
Consultation • EC submits a proposal to Council, which then consults EP, CoR and EESC • Parliament can: (i) approve the Commission proposal, (ii) reject it (iii) or ask for amendments • If Parliament asks for amendments, the Commission will consider all the changes Parliament suggests. If it accepts any of these suggestions it will send the Council an amended proposal • The Council examines the amended proposal and either adopts it or amends it further. • In this procedure, as in all others, if the Council amends a Commission proposal it must do so unanimously • Council can only reject the proposal by unanimity • In certain areas, such as taxation, the Council’s decision must be unanimous
Consultation The areas subject to consultation are: • Police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters • Revision of the Treaties • Discrimination based on gender, race or ethnic origin, religion, political beliefs, handicap, age or sexual orientation • European citizenship • Agriculture • Cohesion Policy: ERDF and ESF Regulations • Legal immigration and free movement of people-connected • Transport (when it may have a significant influence in certain regions) • Competition law • Tax provisions • Economic policy
EC submits proposal to the Council, which can take a decision only with the EP’s express assent EP can accept or reject a proposal, but can not amend it Acceptance (“assent”) requires an absolute majority of the vote cast Assent
Assent The areas subject to assent are: • Specific tasks of the European Central Bank • Amendment of the statutes of the European System of Central Banks or the European Central Bank • Financial Perspectives • European Parliament’s uniform election procedure • Certain international agreements • Accession of new Member States • Sanctions imposed on a Member State for a serious and persistent breach of fundamental rights under the Article 7 of the EU Treaty
Co-Decision • Nowadays the most used procedure – Would be the standard procedure under the Constitutional Treaty • Council and Parliament on equal foot sharing the legislative power equally with the Council. Both Institutions carry out up to three readings • If Council and Parliament cannotagree on a piece of proposed legislation, it is put before a conciliation committee • Conciliation Committee composed of equal numbers of Council and Parliament representatives • Once this committee has reached an agreement, the text is sent once again to Parliament and the Council so that they can finally adopt it as law
Prevention of discrimination on the grounds of nationality Freedom of movement and residency Free movement of labour Social security of migrant labour Freedom of establishment Transport The internal market Employment Customs cooperation Combating social exclusion Equal opportunity and treatment Education Vocational training Implementation of decisions relating to ESF General Regulation for Cohesion Policy Culture Health Consumer protection Trans-European networks Execution of European Regional Development Fund decisions Research The environment Prevention and prosecution of fraud Visas, asylum and illegal immigration (1 April 2005 at the latest) Co-DecisionThe areas subject to co-decision are:
Co-Decision Step by Step1. Commission’s Proposal • Monopoly of initiative in all co-decision areas • Commission may also alter any proposal • The legal basis adopted by the Commission will determine the legislative procedure • Result of an extensive consultation process: impact assessment, reports by experts, consultation of national experts, international organisations and/or NGOs, Green and White Papers, etc. • Also Interservice Consultation amongst Commission departments • Adoption by the College of Commissioners: (i) either written procedure (no discussion) or (ii) an oral procedure (after discussion) • Publication in the EU Official Journal C Series • The proposal is forwarded simultaneously to the EP, the Council, the EESC and the CoR
Co-Decision Step by Step2. EESC’s and CoR’s Opinions • Must be consulted by the Commission and the Council where the Treaty so provides or in cases in which the latter consider it appropriate • The Council or the Commission can set a time limit for the submission of opinions • The EP also has the option of consulting the two Committees • In addition, the EESC and the CoR may issue opinions in cases considered by them to be appropriate
Co-Decision Step by Step3. EP’s First ReadingArticle 251(2) EC Treaty The EP delivers an opinion at first reading, which is prepared by a rapporteur, discussed and amended within the relevant parliamentary committee and then debated in plenary session and adopted by a simple majority • Report from the responsible Committee: rapporteur and shadow rapporteurs; exchange of views and discussions; hearings with interest groups (e.g regions); amendments to the Commission proposals; adoption of the report by simple majority • Parallel opinions from other committees • No legal time limit. Eight months on average or much longer! • Simplified fast-track procedures if no amendments by responsible committee • Adoption in plenary by a simple majority of the final votes cast: If report adopted in committee virtually unanimously (with fewer than 10% of votes against), plenary may adopt without further debate • If no simple majority final achieved the Commission is requested to withdraw its proposal and thus the legislative procedure is stopped. If the Commission refuses to withdraw its proposal, the matter is referred back to the parliamentary committee • Nothing prevents the EP from nullifying proposal through amendments: This will not necessarily stop the legislative procedure!
Co-Decision Step by Step4. Amended Commission proposal • Commission can alter its legislative proposal, enabling it to incorporate EP’s amendments which improve the initial proposal and/or are likely to facilitate an agreement • The amended proposal is prepared by the respective Commission’s DG in charge of the dossier, on the basis of the mandate obtained from the College • The Legal Service and the Secretariat-General are consulted • The amended proposal is adopted by the College and then published in the Official Journal L series
Co-Decision Step by Step5. Council’s First Reading • Preparatory work within working parties towards Council’s position: National experts + EU Presidency report to the Committee of Permanent Representatives (Coreper I and II), which prepares every Council decision taken at Ministerial level • Three options: • The Council accepts without alteration the Commission’s proposal, which the EP has not amended, and the act can be adopted; • The Council accepts all the EP’s amendments which the Commission has incorporated into its amended proposal, and the act can be adopted ; • In all other cases, the Council adopts a common position • Council’s common position: • Preparation by Coreper • Adoption of by the Council of Ministers either without debate, when an agreement has been found at the preparatory stage (A item), or with debate (B item) by a qualified majority with the agreement of the Commission • But unanimity is required if its position differs from that of the Commission
Co-Decision Step by Step5a. The EP has approved the proposal without amendment and the Council does not wish to amend If the EP has not adopted any amendments, and if the Council does not wish to alter the Commission’s proposal, the act is deemed to have been adopted and it is then published in EU Official Journal L series The procedure is ended!
Co-Decision Step by Step5b. The Council approves all the EP amendments If the Council approves the Commission’s proposal as amended by the European Parliament by a qualified majority, the act is deemed to have been adopted and it is then published in EU Official Journal L series The procedure is ended! • Adoption of all amendments by the Council by a qualified majority if the Commission has incorporated them into its amended proposal, or by unanimity if this has not been done • Informal tripartite meetings between the EP (rapporteur and, where appropriate, shadow rapporteurs), the Council (chair of the working party and/or Coreper), and the Commission (responsible DG and Secretariat-General) • TheCommission frequently plays a mediating and editing role in respect of these compromise texts
Co-Decision Step by Step6. Council’s Common Position and EP’s Second Reading In all other cases the Council adopts a Common Position and the EP goes through a Second Reading • Deadline: 3+1 months • Council’s Common position referred to responsible Committee: adoption first by Committee level and then by plenary by qualified majority • EP Committee adopts report on Common Position: • Approval: Act is adopted • Rejection: Act is deemed not to be adopted • Amendments: to the Common Position Second Reading by the Council
Co-Decision Step by Step7. Council’s Second Reading • Deadline: 3+1 months • EP’s Second Reading is deferred to the Council • Examination by the Working group and Coreper • Decision by a simple majority but unanimity is required if the Commission expressed a negative opinion on the EP amendments • Two options: • All EP amendments accepted: The act is adopted • Not all amendments accepted: Convening of the Conciliation Committee
Co-Decision Step by Step8. The Conciliation Committee and the Joint Text • Committee convened in 6+2 weeks by the EP and Council Presidents • Informal preparatory phase • Delegations: • EP delegation decides by a simple majority • Council delegation decides by a qualified majority • The Commission takes part with a moderator role • Unbalanced representation??: EP at political level Council at technical level • Two options: • No agreement on a Joint Text: The act is not adopted • Agreement on Joint text: Third Reading by EP and Council
Co-Decision Step by Step9. Third Reading: Vote on the joint text • Council decides by a qualified majority • EP decides by a simple majority of the vote cast • Two options: • EP and Council adopt their positions in accordanceto Joint Text: The act is adopted and published in the EU Official Journal L series • EP and Council do not approve the Joint Text: The act is not adopted but a new procedure can be put in place (Technical and political decisions might not follow the same line!)
The Transposition and Implementation of the Acts • Directives have to be transposed in National legal systems but there is room for the Member States to decide how Second phase for regions to lobby • Regulations are directly adopted into national legal systems • The implementation powers are delegated to the Commission and comitology • Commission monitors implementation by Member States and can take them to the European Court of Justice in case of failure of breach of their implementation obligations • “Golplatting” by Member States is also bad transposition!
The Importance of Comitology • Should not be underrated! • It integrates the Member States into all decision making processes independently of the level and the organ • Main critic: It subverts the EU decision-making process • But can also be justified for technical matters at implementation stage • Three types of committees - advisory, management and regulatory committees – with different procedures and varying levels of legislative control over the Commission. The type of committee assigned normally depends on the policy area being regulated • It is not possible to determine the exact number of EU committees as many ad hoc committees distort statistics • All in all some sources estimate the total number is more than a 6.000!
More information • EU Decision http://europa.eu/institutions/decision-making/index_en.htm • Co-Decision website http://ec.europa.eu/codecision/index_en.htm • Co-Decision Diagram http://ec.europa.eu/codecision/stepbystep/diagram_en.htm
The South West of England Overview of SWUKBO
Regional Profile • Magnificent natural and built landscape • Spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship • Economy traditionally built on agriculture, tourism, fishing, and defence • Important urban centres and large industries • Dynamic social economy, creating employment and services and promoting social cohesion
Key Economic Sectors • Advanced Engineering (includes Aerospace) • Food and drink • ICT • Leisure and tourism • Marine Emerging sectors • Biotechnology • Creative industries • Environmental technologies
The South West in Europe • Population of 5 million - Compares to Catalonia in Spain and Saxony in Germany • Enlargement of the EU provides the potential to build new partnerships and business opportunities • EU works in partnership with South West to tackle specific economic and social problems via Cohesion Policy (worth €3.2 billion for 2000-2006) • Common Agricultural Policy is also of immense importance to the region’s rural economy (average €420 m per annum in 2000-2006)
Established in April 2001 from the merger of 3 former offices Broad Partnership: South West Regional Development Agency Local authorities (all county and unitary) HERDA–SW (higher education) South Coast Metropole (Bournemouth/Poole) South West Regional Assembly The Brussels Office Partnership
SWUKBO’s Mission • To establish a regional partnership of relevant stakeholders for the European agenda • To help bring prosperity to the South West • By ensuring strong regional representation and its involvement in shaping policy at EU level • By providing partners with the necessary intelligence and channels to contribute to key EU policies and programmes affecting regions