If the Lisbon Treaty comes into force, the European Parliament will play a bigger role in the protection of fundamental rights and any EU law will have to comply with the European Convention on Human Rights, stressed MEPs and other speakers at the EP Civil Liberties Committee on Monday.
The Lisbon Treaty will boost EU cooperation on protecting fundamental rights and empower European citizens in the area of freedom, security and justice, said Juan Fernando López Aguilar (S&D, ES), who chairs the Civil Liberties Committee. The Treaty will make the EU more credible, simplify the institutional framework, streamline the decision-making process, increase majority voting in the Council and expand the EP's co-decision powers. Greater emphasis on subsidiarity and proportionality will be another gain.
An enhanced role for national parliaments
The EP Legal Service pointed out that co-decision will become the "ordinary procedure" and will apply to additional policy areas. Any new legislation in these areas will be subject to judicial review. National parliaments will play an important role in their adoption and in any follow-up.
The Legal Service also stressed that the Charter of Fundamental Rights will have the same legal value as the Treaty. The rules on data protection and the new Stockholm programme will have to reflect this. If Lisbon comes into force, the EU's accession to the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR), which requires the approval of all Member States, should go ahead as quickly as possible, argued the Legal Service.
A new commission proposal on PNR
The Swedish Presidency representative had “high hopes” that the ratification process of the Treaty would be completed soon. He promised that discussions on the Passenger Name Record (PNR) would not continue in the Council - but wait until the Lisbon Treaty comes into force, thereby giving the EP a bigger say.
All draft legislation that needs a change of legal basis will be resubmitted when the Treaty comes into force, announced the Commission representative. The EC will publish a paper on the proposals whose legal basis will change under the new Treaty.
The EU too "intrusive" in family law ?
Simon Busuttil (EPP, MT) hoped that the Lisbon treaty would be ratified and come into force as soon as possible, but said "we have to think about what the Irish referendum tells us: one of the main concerns was that is EU is too intrusive in family life. We have to be extremely careful on what we do and how we do it". Sophie In't Veld (ALDE, NL) replied that the EU "actually protects the citizen's private life. Those who intrude are the national governments". The EP Legal Service explained that the EU has no competence in the field of family law, except in its cross-border implications.
Ramón Jáuregui Atondo (S&D, ES) emphasised that "Member States will have to accompany the Treaty's entry into force in a generous way". "We know how Council has difficulties in agreeing on common texts" he said, referring to the unanimity required in order to ratify the Council of Europe Charter on Human Rights.
Jan Philipp Albrecht (Greens/EFA, DE) proposed that the agreement on EU-US banking data transfers via the SWIFT network be postponed until the European Parliament gets codecision power on this issue. Andrew Henry William Brons (NI, UK) warned that the British Conservatives intend to renegotiate the Lisbon Treaty if they win next year's general election in the United Kingdom. But "I don't want to spoil this celebratory atmosphere" he said.
Chair : Juan Fernando LÓPEZ AGUILAR (S&D, ES)