A new mechanism for controlling the Commission’s use of implementing powers, which guarantees Parliament’s right of scrutiny over draft measures and obliges the Commission to review them, was approved by Parliament on Thursday. It should enter into force on 1 March 2011.
The new Lisbon Treaty system for implementing EU legislation replaces the old "comitology" procedure (committees of Member State representatives) with a two-tier structure of delegated and implementing acts.
The new mechanism would replace the so-called "Comitology Decision" with two procedures ("advisory" or "examination") to be used when Parliament and the Council intend to confer implementing powers on the Commission.
By way of exception to the rule that Member States are responsible for implementing EU legislation, where uniform conditions are needed in order to implement legally-binding EU acts (e.g. where a common form is required in all EU countries), the power to adopt the necessary implementing acts will be conferred on the Commission.
Since it is the legislator which decides whether to have recourse to delegated and/or implementing acts and which establishes the control mechanisms applicable to both regimes (for implementing acts, in the current text), Parliament and the Council need to be promptly informed by the Commission as to how it plans to exercise its implementing powers, MEPs underlined during the negotiations.
Parliament's right of scrutiny
A right of scrutiny, as previously provided for in the “Comitology Decision”, is necessary to enable each co-legislator (Parliament and Council) to alert the Commission whenever it considers that a draft implementing act exceeds the implementing powers provided for in the relevant EU legislation. In such cases, the Commission will review the draft implementing act, taking account of the positions expressed, and inform Parliament and the Council whether it intends to maintain, amend or withdraw it.
"Parliament's rights are met" in this legislation, said Legal Affairs Committee rapporteur, József Szájer (EPP, HU), explaining that "Parliament kept the right of scrutiny". In the negotiations with Council and Commission, "my goal was that this regulation should not prejudge the discussions going on in other committees", such as International Trade, Development or External Affairs, concerning how financial instruments should be regulated, he added. According to the rapporteur, "transparency and parliamentary control will be much better after this regulation is adopted".
The alignment of existing EU laws to the Lisbon Treaty provisions is now the subject of a commitment by the Commission, incorporated in a policy statement attached to Mr Szájer's report.
MEPs insisted that it must be possible fine-tune this new system once they see how it works, and if necessary to amend the regulation. No later than five years after its entry into force, the Commission must present a report on the implementation of this regulation, accompanied, if necessary, by legislative proposals.
The new implementing powers mechanism was approved with 567 votes in favour, 4 against and 18 abstentions.