Equal treatment of the Parliament and Council by the Commission, strengthening the position of Parliament's legislative initiative requests, agreement on measures to improve the accountability of the executive and enhancing Parliament's role in international negotiations were some of the key principles established by Parliament's negotiators in discussions with the European Commission.
Parliament and the Commission are currently revising the so-called Framework Agreement governing relations between the two institutions. After three rounds of negotiations, the Working Party reached a common understanding on 27 January. Commission President-elect José Manuel Barroso is expected to make a statement in plenary endorsing Parliament's wishes before the vote of approval of the new Commission on 9 February.
The second stage of the negotiations, starting immediately after the Commission takes office, should lead by May-June 2010 to an ambitious Framework Agreement text that will be considered by the Committee on Constitutional Affairs for a decision by plenary.
Subject to the approval by the Parliament's Conference of Presidents on 4 February of a draft resolution, the Parliament will vote on 9 February on a resolution summing up the results of the negotiations so far. The resolution is seen as an important step forward for the relationship between the two institutions, reflecting Parliament's new position under the Lisbon Treaty.
Equal treatment of Parliament and Council
One of the key achievements of the EP negotiators was a commitment of the Commission team, led by President-elect Barroso, to the principle of equal treatment by the Commission for Parliament and the Council of Ministers. This relates especially to access to meetings and full documentation on the Commission's meetings with national experts.
Another key question in the negotiations for Parliament was improving the accountability of the Commission, as the executive. The Commission agreed to support the Parliament in the negotiations on the European External Action Service, with a view to guaranteeing its full accountability, including a transparent procedure for nominating special representatives and ambassadors.
Furthermore, a new Question Hour with Commissioners, including the Vice-President for External Relations / High-Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, will be included in Parliament's plenary sessions. Moreover, if Parliament asks the Commission President to withdraw confidence in an individual Member of the College, he will seriously consider either requiring the resignation of the Commissioner or explain his refusal to do so before the Parliament in the following part-session.
Stronger position for Parliament's legislative initiatives
The Commission President also undertook to strengthen the position of legislative initiative requests made by the Parliament. The agreement imposes clear deadlines, with a three month deadline for the Commission's response on the concrete follow-up to a legislative initiative report and, as a rule, one year for the submission of a proposal to Parliament. If no proposal is submitted, the Commission will give detailed explanations to the Parliament.
Parliament's demands were also met with regard to the future negotiations on a Better Law-Making Agreement, as the Commission agreed to consult Parliament on the use of soft law initiatives and to enhance the Parliament's right to information on infringement procedures.
Enhanced Parliament role in international negotiations
The deal between the two institutions includes a commitment by the Commission to reinforce its association with Parliament in international negotiations. Parliament will in future receive full information on the negotiations at all stages. In addition, the Commission will act as facilitator to enable the chair of the EP delegation to be granted observer status at international conferences.
Finally, the Parliament's request for improved programming was also met, as the Commission agreed to seek a common understanding of the institutions prior to adopting the Annual Work Programme.
Parliament Working Party for the negotiations
Parliament's Conference of Presidents nominated the following Working Party in November 2009 to represent the Parliament in the negotiations:
Klaus-Heiner Lehne (EPP, DE), Chair of the Conference of Committee Chairs (Chair)
Hannes Swoboda (S&D, AT), Vice-Chair of the S&D Group
Diana Wallis (ALDE, UK), EP Vice-President
Rebecca Harms (Greens/EFA, DE), Co-Chair of the Greens/EFA Group
Dagmar Roth-Behrendt (S&D, DE), EP Vice-President
Also Paulo Rangel (EPP, PT) was invited to the meetings as an observer due to his position as Constitutional Affairs Committee rapporteur on the issue..
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