The European Parliament approved on Tuesday a set of key principles to be implemented in the cooperation agreement governing relations between the EP and the Commission. Commission President Barroso endorsed MEPs' demands, reflecting the new position of Parliament under the Lisbon Treaty.
Parliament and the Commission are currently revising the Framework Agreement that defines relations between the two institutions, including their political responsibilities, the flow of information and legislative coordination. The negotiators of the two institutions agreed on a set of key principles in late January. Parliament approved these principles today by show of hands.
Parliament President Jerzy Buzek commented "I am happy that we have agreed this new significant document today. The Framework Agreement set outs the new rules on how the European Parliament and Commission will work together on a daily basis. This new Framework Agreement boosts the Community Method. Agreed for 5 years, it is a foundation for solid co-operation between two important Community institutions."
Commission President José Manuel Barroso endorsed the adoption of these principles and said in plenary: "I am deeply satisfied that we found a common understanding" on how both institutions will work together in the coming years. "I propose to take our special partnership to a new level, (...) to reflect the new treaty and to shape Europe together".
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 adopted by plenary.
Equal treatment of Parliament and Council
One of the key achievements of Parliament was a commitment of the Commission 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 for Parliament was improving the accountability of the Commission as the EU executive body. The Commission agreed to support 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.
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 his confidence in an individual Member of the College, he must seriously consider whether to require the resignation of the Commissioner or explain his refusal to do so before Parliament in the following plenary session.
Stronger position for Parliament's legislative initiatives
The Commission also undertook to strengthen the position of legislative initiative requests made by 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 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 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, 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.
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