European parliament and decision making

Política. Instituciones de la UE (Unión Europea). Parlamento europeo # Decision-making procedures. Legislative. Appointment. Budgetary procedure. Interinstitutional agreement

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The evolution of EU decision making and the role of the European Parliament

Index

Executive Summary 3

The specific role of European Parliament in decision making: Historical background. 5

The European Parliament Powers. 5

Participation in the Legislative Processes 6

Budget Powers. 7

Powers of control over the executive. 8

Decision-making procedures with the Treaty of European Union 9

Legislative procedures 10

Codecision Procedure 10

Cooperation Procedure 11

Consultation Procedure 12

Assent Procedure 13

Appoinment Procedures 13

Other areas in decision making 14

Conclusion of international agreements 14

System of own resources 14

Provisions for election of Parliament by direct universal suffrage 15

Adoption of the Statute for Members of the European Parliament and the

Statute for the Ombudsman 15

Amendment of the protocol on the Statute of the Court of Justice 15

The new decision-making procedures after the Treaty of European Union 16

Procedure for amendment of the treaties 16

Accession procedure 16

Sanctions procedure for a serious and persistent breach of

Union principles by a Member State 16

Closer cooperation procedure 17

Procedure for decisions in foreign affairs 17

Procedure for decisions on cooperation in the fields of

justice and home affairs 18

The budgetary procedure 19

The stages in the procedure 19

The distinction between compulsory expenditure and

non-compulsory expenditure 21

The Interinstitutional Agreement on budgetary discipline

and improvement of the budgetary procedure 22

Conclusion 24

Key words:

Cooperation; co-decision, assent, consultation, decision making, budget control

Executive Summary:

The purpose of this work is to find our the processes of decision making in the European Union, their evolution and the specific role of the European Parliament, EP, on them. For it the work is divided in three parts. The first has to do with the specific role of the EP in the decision making processes and its evolution since the Treaty of Roma to the last EU treaty of Amsterdam.

The second part constitutes an analysis of the decision-making processes which were established from the birth of the EU till the last treaty. Finally there is a third part which analyses the new decision making processes introduced by the Maastrich Treaty. In this part there is a diferentiated area for the budgetary control that is considered as one of the most important, if not the most, areas in decision making through the EU.

The EP was originally a wholly subordinate and peripheral body within the EU. This peripheral role was quite evident in the Treaty of Rome where its primary tool was to provide a little extra legitimacy for the integration process and to act as a "sounding board" for legislative proposals. The Council of Ministers was committed by the Treaty to refer to it in the "consultation procedure" on a range of issues, but was not required to take any notice of its views. The EP also had the power to dimiss the whole Commission without having any role in the appointment of new Commissioners.

This old model of EP was subject of many changes, since then. The first breakthrough came with the change in the financing system of the EU in 1970. This led to a debate that empowered the Council and the Parliament setting them jointly as budgetary authorities. The official consolidation of these changes was formalized in 1975 giving the EP the powers of increasing Community expenditure, the opportunity to distribute the sums voted across the various sectors of the budget, the power to reject the whole budget and the exclusive right to "discharge" the Commission

The second critical change in the EP was the introduction of direct elections for the first time in 1979. After them it become the famous Isoglucose case in 1980 which provided the parliament with delaying powers (the EP can since then reject the Council decisions).

The next advance was pioneered by Altiero Spinelli in 1984 and brought a new legislative process known as Co-operation. The second point for the EP was to gain the right to ratify association agreements under an "assent procedure" and also to approve the accession of new members.

But the main change in the EP power was the implementation of another procedure. That became with the Maastricht Treaty and it's called co-decision. Under this procedure the EP secured the right of a third reading, and a conciliation committee was established in which the Council and the EP would attempt to reach agreements on draft legislation.

The specific role of European Parliament in decision making: Historical background.

The European Parliament Powers.

After the creation of the EEC and Euratom, the ECSC Common Assembly was expanded to cover all three Communities. On 19 March 1958 the former Assembly turned into European Parliamentary Assembly. Four years after it changed its name again to European Parliament (30 of March 1962).

The Parliament's functions have been increased since its creation in several times. The first main change was in April 1970 when the replacement of Member State contributions to the Community led to a first extension of Parliament's budgetary powers under the treaty of Luxembourg (22 April 1970). A second treaty on the same subject, strengthening Parliament's powers was signed in Brussels on 22 July 1975. Then, the Single Act (1987) enhanced Parliament's role in certain legislative areas (cooperation procedure) and made accession and association treaties subject to its consent.

The Maastricht Treaty introduced the codecision procedure in certain areas of legislation, and extending the cooperation procedure to others, marked the beginning or Parliament's metamorphosis into the role of co-legislator. It gave Parliament the power of final approval over the membership of the Commission, which was an important step forwards in Parliament's political control over the European executive.

The Treaty of Amsterdam extended the codecision procedure to most areas of legislation and reformed the procedure, putting Parliament as co-legislator on an equal footing with the Council. With the appointment of the President of the Commision being made subject to Parliament's approval (after nomination by the Member States), Parliament further increased its control over the executive power.

The European Parliament Powers.

The objectives of the European Parliament are focused towards being an institution representing the citizens of Europe forming the democratic basis of the Community. So that if the Community is to have full democratic legitimacy, Parliament must be fully involved in the Community's legislative process and exercise political control on the public behalf over the other Community institutions.

Since the Single European Act (SEA), all treaties marking the accession of a new Member State and association treaties are subject to Parliament's assent. The SEA also established this procedure for international agreements having important budgetary implications for the Community (replacing the conciliation procedure established in 1975). The Maastricht Treaty introduced it for agreements establishing a specific institutional framework or entailing modifications to an act adopted under the codecision procedure. Parliament must also give its assent to acts relating to the electoral procedure (Maastricht Treaty) and penalties for a Member State in serious and persistent breach of the European Union's fundamental principles (Amsterdam Treaty).

Participation in the Legislative Processes:

The EP takes part in the drafting of Community legislation to varying degrees, according to the individual legal basis. It has progressed from a purely advisory role to codecision on an equal footing with the Council. These procedures are the next:

  • Codecision. It came into force since the Amsterdam Treaty. The simplified codecision procedure has applied to 39 legal bases in the EC Treaty that allow for the adoption of legislative acts. It may therefore be considered a standard legislative procedure that puts Parliament on an equal footing with the Council. If they agree the act is adopted at first reading; if they do not agree, the act can only be adopted after successful conciliation.

  • Consultation. It is applied in agriculture, taxation, competition, harmonisation of legislation nor related to the internal market, industrial policy, aspects of social and environmental policy (subject to unanimity), most aspects of creating and area of freedon, security and justice, and adoption of general rules and principles for "comitology". This procedure is also applied to a new "framework-decision" instrument created by the Amsterdam Treaty under the third pillar for the purpose of approximation of laws and regulations.

  • Cooperation. This procedure was introduced by the SEA and extended under the Maastricht Treaty to most areas of legislation where the Council acts by majority. This procedure obliges the Council to take into account at second reading those of Parliament's amendments that were adopted by an absolute majority, in so far as they have been taken over by the Commission. This marked the beginning of real legislative power for Parliament. Its importance has been diminished by the general use of the codecision procedure under the Amsterdam Treaty. It survives only for two EMU provisions.

  • Assent. Since the Maastricht Treaty, the assent procedure applies to the few legislative areas in which the Council acts by unanimous decision, limited since the Amsterdam Treaty to the Structural Funds and Cohesion.

  • Right of initiative. The Maastricht Treaty also gives the EP the right of legislative initiative, but this is limited to asking the Commision to put forward a proposal.

  • Budget Powers.

    The EP is one of the two arms of the budgetary authority of the EU, and has the last word on non-compulsory expenditure.

    • It's involved in the budgetary process from the preparation stage, notably in laying down the general guidelines and the type of spending.

    • When debating the budget it has the power to table amendments to non-compulsory expenditure but only to propose modifications to compulsory expenditure.

    • It finally adopts the budget and monitors its implementation.

    • It discusses the annual general report.

    • It gives a discharge on implementation of the budget.

    Powers of control over the executive.

    The Parliament has several powers of control.

    1. Investiture of the Commission. Parliament began informally approving the investiture of the Commission in 1981 by approving its program. However, it was only when the Maastricht Treaty came into force (1992) that its approval was required before the Member States could appoint the President and Members of the Commission as a collegiate body. The Amsterdam Treaty has taken matters further by requiring Parliament's specific approval for the appointment of the Commission President, prior to that of the other Members.

    2. The motion of censure

    The Treaty of Rome made provision for a motion of censure against the Commission. It requires a two-thirds majority of the votes cast, representing a majority of Parliament's component members, in which case the Commission must resign as a body. There have been only seven motions of censure since the beginning and none has been adopted, but the number of votes in favor of censure has steadily increased. The last motion (vote on 14 January 1999) obtained 232 votes to 293, with 27 abstentions.

    3. Parliamentary questions

    These take the form of written and oral questions with or without debate and questions for Question Time. The Commission and Council are required to reply.

    4. Committees of inquiry

    EP has the power to set up a temporary committee of inquiry to investigate alleged contraventions or maladministration in the implementation of Community law.

    5. Control over common foreign and security policy and police and judicial cooperation. The EP is entitled to be kept informed in these areas and may address questions or recommendations to the Council. It must be consulted on the main aspects and basic choices of the common foreign and security policy and on any measure envisaged apart from the common positions on police and judicial cooperation. Implementation of the interinstitutional agreement on financing the CFSP, attached to the Amsterdam Treaty, is expected to improve CFSP consultation procedures.

    Decision-making procedures with the Treaty of European Union

    The Treaty of Rome gave the Commission powers of proposal and negotiation, mainly in the fields of legislation and external economic relations, and allocated powers for decision-making to the Council or, in the case of appointments, representatives of the Member States' governments. It gave the EP a consultative power. Parliament's role has gradually grown, in the budgetary domain with the reforms of 1970 and 1975, in the legislative domain with the Single European Act, and in the area of appointments with the Treaty of Maastricht. The Single European Act also gave Parliament the power to authorise ratification of accession and association treaties; Maastricht extended that power to other international treaties of certain kinds. The Treaty of Amsterdam has made substantial progress down the road to democratising the Community, by simplifying the codecision procedure, extending it to new areas and strengthening Parliament's role in appointing the Commission.

    Legislative procedures

    Since the Treaty of Amsterdam the codecision procedure has applied to most of the fields of Community legislation. Application of the cooperation procedure is now confined to a few decisions in the field of Economic and Monetary Union. The consultation procedure continues to apply to `sensitive' areas that still require unanimity in the Council, such as taxation, industrial policy, regional planning or the management of water resources, and to two areas requiring a qualified majority, the agricultural and competition policies.

    Basic legislation dealing with funds for structural and cohesion purposes is adopted by the Council, acting unanimously after obtaining Parliament's assent. The assent procedure also applies to the adoption of international treaties that will involve amendment of an act adopted under the codecision procedure, have a significant impact on the budget or set up a specific institutional framework.

    The Commission has the monopoly of initiative. This means it is the only institution that can draft legislative proposals, for adoption either by the Council alone or Parliament and Council together. The Council can deviate from the Commission proposal only by a unanimous vote. Parliament can s formally request the Commission to submit a specific proposal by a majority of its component Members.

    1. Codecision procedure

    The Treaty of Amsterdam extends the procedure to 15 existing legal bases and eight new ones. It simplifies the procedure, placing Parliament and the Council practically on an equal footing. The procedure works in seven steps like these:

    a. Commission proposal

    b. Opinion of Parliament, by a simple majority, and if necessary of the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions

    c. The Council adopts a "common position" by a qualified majority, except in the fields of culture, freedom of movement, social security and coordination of the rules for carrying on a profession, which are subject to a unanimous vote.

    d. Parliament receives the Council common position and has three months to take a decision.
    - The act is adopted immediately, if Parliament expressly approves it or if it takes no decision by the deadline.

    - The procedure stops immediately, and the act is not adopted, if an absolute majority of Parliament's Members rejects the common position.

    - The matter returns to the Council if a majority of Parliament's Members adopts amendments to the common position which are then put to the Commission for its opinion.

    e. The Council votes by a qualified majority on Parliament's amendments, though it takes a unanimous vote on those which have obtained the Commission's negative opinion.
    - The act is adopted if the Council approves all Parliament's amendments no later than three months after receiving them.

    - Otherwise the Conciliation Committee is convened within six weeks.

    f. The Conciliation Committee consists of an equal number of Council and Parliament representatives, assisted by the Commission. It considers the common position on the basis of Parliament's amendments and has six weeks to draft a joint text.

    - The procedure stops and the act is not adopted unless the Committee approves a joint text by the deadline.

    - If it does so the joint text goes to the Council and Parliament for approval.

    g. The Council and Parliament have six weeks to approve it. The Council acts by a qualified majority and Parliament by an absolute majority of the votes cast.

    - The act is adopted if Council and Parliament approve the joint text

    - If either of the institutions has not approved it by the deadline the procedure stops and the act is not adopted.

    2. Cooperation procedure

    At a first reading Parliament delivers an opinion on the Commission proposal. The Council, acting by a qualified majority, then adopts a common position and forwards it to Parliament, enclosing all the information required and its reasons for adopting the common position. Parliament has three months to take a decision: it can adopt, amend or reject the common position. In the latter two instances it must do so by an absolute majority of its Members. If Parliament rejects the proposal the Council can only take a decision at second reading unanimously.

    Within a period of one month, the Commission reconsiders the proposal on which the Council adopted its common position and forwards the reconsidered proposal to the Council. It has discretion to incorporate or exclude the amendments proposed by Parliament. Within a period of three months, which can be extended by a maximum of one month, the Council may, acting by a qualified majority, adopt the proposal as reconsidered by the Commission or, acting unanimously, amend the reconsidered proposal or adopt amendments not taken into account by the Commission. As long as the Council has not acted, the Commission may alter or withdraw its proposal at any time.

    3. Consultation procedure

    Before taking a decision the Council must take note of the opinion of Parliament and, if necessary, the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions. It is required to do so, as the absence of such consultation makes the act illegal and capable of annulment by the Court of Justice. When the Council intends to substantially amend the proposal it is required to consult Parliament again.

    4. Assent procedure

    When this procedure applies to the legislative field, Parliament considers a draft act forwarded by the Council; it decides whether to approve the draft (it cannot amend it) by an absolute majority of the votes cast. The treaty does not give Parliament any formal role in the preceding stages of the procedure, to consider the Commission proposal; but as a result of interinstitutional arrangements it has become the practice to involve Parliament informally.

    Appointment Procedures

    1. The governments of the Member States appoint, by common accord:
    - The President and other Members of the Commission, after

    • the governments of the Member States nominate the Commission President by common accord,

    • Parliament approves the nomination,

    • the governments of the Member States, by common accord with the nominated President,nominate the other Members of the Commission;

    • Parliament approves the College of Commissioners;

    • the President, Vice-President and other members of the Executive Board of the European Central Bank (the governments meet at Heads of State and Government level to act on a Council recommendation after consulting Parliament)

    • the judges and advocates-general of the Court of Justice and Court of First Instance.

    2. The Council: , acting unanimously, appoints:

    - members of the Court of Auditors, after consulting Parliament;

    - on a proposal by the governments of the Member States, the members of the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions (in the latter case, after consulting the Commission).

    3. Parliament appoints the Ombudsman.

    Other areas in decision making

  • Conclusion of international agreements

    • Recommendations and conduct of negotiations: Commission.

    • Definition of the mandate for negotiations: Council.

    • Proposal for conclusion: Commission.

    • - Parliament's role:

    • assent for agreements creating a special institutional framework, having significant budgetary implications or involving the amendment of an act adopted under the codecision procedure,

    • consultation in other cases.

    - Decision: Council, by a qualified majority except in fields requiring unanimity for the adoption of internal regulations.

    2. System of own resources

    • Proposal: Commission.

    • Parliament's role: consultation.

    • Decision: Council, unanimously, subject to adoption by the Member States in accordance with their respective constitutional requirements.

  • Provisions for election of Parliament by direct universal suffrage

  • -Proposal: Parliament.

    - Decision: Council, unanimously after obtaining Parliament's assent, subject to adoption by the Member States.

    4. Adoption of the Statute for Members of the European Parliament and the Statute for the Ombudsman
    -
    Proposal: Parliament.
    - Commission's role: opinion.
    - Council's role: assent, unanimous on the Statute for Members and by a qualified majority on theStatute for the Ombudsman.
    - Decision: Parliament.

    5. Amendment of the protocol on the Statute of the Court of Justice
    -
    Proposal: Court of Justice.
    - Commission's role: consultation.
    - Parliament's role: consultation.
    - Decision: Council, unanimously.

    The 1996 Intergovernmental Conference had the aim of simplifying decision-making procedures and reducing their number. In the legislative field that aim seems largely to have been fulfilled, given the marked reduction in the scope of the cooperation procedure. But two major problems remain: unanimity continues in a considerable number of cases, and Parliament is still merely consulted in two important areas requiring a majority vote in the Council.

    In the field of appointments, there is still an unjustifiably wide range of different procedures; the continued general insistence on unanimity is likely to provoke political disputes; and apart from one or two exceptions, legitimation by Parliament remains unfortunately limited.

    The new decision-making procedures after the Treaty on European Union

    The Treaty on European Union lays down a number of rules and procedures of a constitutional nature. For the common foreign and security policy and cooperation in the fields of justice and home affairs it sets up a special form of intergovernmental cooperation in the guise of action by supranational institutions. These procedures are distinct from those covered by the EC Treaty.

    1. Procedure for amendment of the treaties

    - Proposal: any Member State or the Commission.
    - Commission's role: consultation and participation in the intergovernmental conference.
    - Parliament's role: consultation before intergovernmental conference is convened (the conferences involved Parliament on an ad hoc basis; at the last one it was represented either by its President or two of its Members, depending on the case).
    Decision: common accord of the governments on amendments to the treaties, which are then put to the Member States for ratification in accordance with their constitutional requirements.

    2. Accession procedure


    - Applications: from any European state that complies with the Union's principles.
    - Commission's role: consultation; it takes an active part in preparing and conducting negotiations.
    - Parliament's role: assent, by an absolute majority of its component Members.

    - Decision: by the Council, unanimously; the agreement between Union Member States and the applicant state, setting out the terms of accession and the adjustments required, is put to all the Member States for ratification in accordance with their constitutional requirements.

    3. Sanctions procedure for a serious and persistent breach of Union principles by a Member State
    - Proposal: one third of the Member States or Commission.
    - Parliament's assent: adopted by a two-thirds majority of the votes cast, representing a majority of its Members.
    - Decision determining the existence of a breach: by the Council at Heads of State and Government level, unanimously (without the participation of the Member State concerned).
    - Decision to suspend certain rights of the state concerned: adopted by the Council by a qualified majority (without the participation of the Member State concerned).

    4. Closer cooperation procedure

    a. For cooperation in the Community sphere :
    - Proposal: exclusive right of the Commission; Member States which propose to establish closer cooperation can apply to the Commission;
    - Parliament's role: consultation;
    - Decision: by the Council, by a qualified majority unless a Member State opposes it for important reasons of national policy. If so the Council can by a qualified majority refer the matter to the Council meeting at Heads of State and Government level for a unanimous decision.

    b. If cooperation is to be in the fields of justice and home affairs:
    - application by the Member States concerned;
    - Commission's role: opinion;
    - Parliament's role: informed;
    - Procedures for Council decision and, if necessary, referral to the European Council are similar to the case above.

    5. Procedure for decisions in foreign affairs
    - Proposal: any Member State or the Commission.
    - Recommendation for common strategy: adopted unanimously by the Council.
    - Decision on a common strategy: European Council, unanimously.
    - Adoption of joint actions, common positions or other decisions on the basis of a common strategy, adoption of decisions implementing a common strategy or common position: by the
    Council, acting by a qualified majority, unless a Member State opposes it for important reasons of national policy. If so the Council can by a qualified majority refer the matter to the Council meeting at Heads of State and Government level for a unanimous decision.
    - Adoption of common positions or joint actions not covered by a common strategy: by the Council, unanimously.
    - Parliament's role: regularly informed by the presidency and consulted on the main aspects and basic options. Under the interinstitutional agreement on financing the CFSP this consultation process is an annual event, on the basis of a Council document.

    6. Procedure for decisions on cooperation in the fields of justice and home affairs

    - Proposal: any Member State or the Commission.
    - Parliament's role: consulted before framework decisions, decisions (excluding common positions) or conventions are adopted; the presidency and Commission must regularly inform Parliament of their work in this area.
    - Decision: by the Council, unanimously. It can act by a qualified majority when adopting measures to implement "decisions". Measures implementing conventions can be adopted by a majority of two-thirds of the contracting parties.

    In the run-up to the 1996 Intergovernmental Conference, Parliament called for "communitisation" of the second and third pillars, so that the decision-making procedures applicable under the Treaty establishing the European Community also applied to them. The Treaty of Amsterdam has only made minor changes in these areas. But they will need reforming if we want them to be the framework for serious policy action, particularly after enlargement. A report by Parliament's Committee on Institutional Affairs is due to discuss the issue before the end of the fourth legislative term.

    The budgetary procedure

    The exercise of budgetary powers consists firstly in determining the nature of the expenditure, then establishing the annual amount of such expenditure and the revenue necessary to cover it, and finally exercising control over the implementation of the budget. The budgetary procedure itself involves the preparation and adoption of the budget.

    Parliament has gradually become the second arm of the budgetary authority.

    a. Before 1970, budgetary powers were vested in the Council alone; Parliament had only a consultative role. After having adopted the draft budget, the Council forwarded it to Parliament for its opinion. If Parliament's opinion contained proposed modifications, the Council gave the budget a second reading and adopted the final version.

    b. The Treaties of 22 April 1970 and 22 July 1975 increased Parliament's budgetary powers:

    • the 1970 Treaty, which followed on from the introduction of the Community's own resources, gave Parliament the last word on what is known as `non-compulsory expenditure';

    • the 1975 Treaty gave it the right to reject the budget as a whole.

    c. Generally speaking, then, budgetary decisions have to be taken jointly by Parliament and the Council although Parliament has an important role to play: it finally adopts the budget and can also reject it as a whole, and it has the last word on non-compulsory expenditure, which now accounts for a majority of all expenditure (currently approximately 55%).

    The stages in the procedure

    The budgetary procedure is dependent on the setting of a maximum rate of increase of non-compulsory expenditure, which is calculated on the basis of macro-economic parameters (changes in the GNP of the EU as a whole, average variation in the Member States' budgets and changes in the cost of living in the Member States). The maximum rate of increase cannot be exceeded unless there is agreement between Parliament and the Council.

    Stage one

    The Commission draws up the preliminary draft budget, taking into account the guidelines laid down by Parliament and the Council in the course of a trialogue on the priorities for the budget and an ad hoc conciliation procedure on compulsory expenditure. It then forwards the preliminary draft to the Council by 1 September at the latest. The Commission may modify the preliminary draft budget at a later stage by means of a letter of amendment, to take account of new factors which were unknown when the preliminary draft was drawn up.

    Stage two

    At first reading, and after conciliation with a Parliament delegation, the Council, acting by a qualified majority, adopts the draft budget and forwards it to Parliament by 5 October at the latest.

    Stage three

    Parliament has 45 days in which to state its position.

    • Within that period, it may adopt the draft or decline to state a position, in both of which cases the budget is deemed finally adopted.

    • It may, on the other hand, call for changes:

    • either in the form of proposed modifications to compulsory expenditure; these must be adopted by an absolute majority of the votes cast,

    • or in the form of amendments to non-compulsory expenditure; these must be adopted by a majority of the component Members of Parliament.

    • Thus altered, the draft is then referred back to the Council.

    Stage four

    The Council has 15 days in which to conduct its second reading.
    - Within that period, it may accept all of Parliament's amendments and proposed modifications, in which case the budget will be deemed adopted.
    - It may, on the other hand, not accept them, in which case:

    • it takes a final decision on the proposed modifications: if a proposed modification would not increase the overall expenditure of any of the Institutions, the Council must, acting by a qualified majority, expressly reject or alter it, failing which it will be deemed accepted; if the proposed modification would lead to an increase, the Council must, again acting by a qualified majority, expressly accept it, failing which it will be deemed rejected;

    • it alters the amendments, which are then referred back to Parliament.

    Stage five

    Parliament has 15 days in which to conduct the second and last reading.
    - If it does not state its position within that period, the budget is deemed adopted together with the amendments modified by the Council.
    - If, however, acting by a majority of its Members and three fifths of the votes cast, it amends or rejects the changes which the Council has made to its initial amendments, in so doing it winds up the procedure and the President of Parliament declares that the budget has been finally adopted.
    - Parliament may also, acting by a majority of its Members and two thirds of the votes cast, reject the budget as a whole. Should it do so, the procedure must begin again from the start, on the basis of a new draft, and, until the latter is adopted, the Community must operate on the basis of monthly appropriations equal to one twelfth of the budget for the previous financial year (known as the 'provisional twelfths' system).

    The distinction between compulsory expenditure and non-compulsory expenditure

    This determines the respective budgetary powers of Parliament and the Council.

    a. Compulsory expenditure (CE)
    Compulsory expenditure is expenditure necessarily resulting from the Treaties or from acts adopted in accordance with them. As far as this type of expenditure is concerned, Parliament may only propose modifications, on which the Council has the last word. However, as we saw above, if Parliament's proposals would not increase the overall expenditure of any of the Institutions, the Council must act by a qualified majority in rejecting them, failing which they will be deemed accepted. This arrangement enables Parliament to exert influence even over compulsory expenditure.

    Compulsory expenditure, currently approximately 45% of the budget, consists mainly of:

    • agricultural price support expenditure;

    • various items of expenditure connected with structural agricultural policy and the common fisheries policy;

    • flat-rate refunds to the Member States, in particular of costs incurred in collecting own resources;

    • part of development aid expenditure.

    b. Non-compulsory expenditure (NCE)
    Parliament has the last word on this type of expenditure, in that it takes the final decision at last reading on the amendments that it adopted previously. However, its powers are restricted by the maximum rate of increase in expenditure. As a result, Parliament cannot add to the draft budget adopted by the Council a volume of non-compulsory expenditure equivalent to more than half this rate. Nonetheless, if the Council has already increased expenditure by more than half the rate, Parliament may still make use of the remaining half.

    The Interinstitutional Agreement on budgetary discipline and improvement of the budgetary procedure

    Following the budget crises in the 1980s, the European Institutions adopted an agreement to improve the procedure for drawing up the budget and ensure that expenditure was contained. Within this framework, the Institutions set the budget priorities and agree on the financial perspective, which indicates the maximum authorised amount and the breakdown of expenditure for the period concerned.

    An initial agreement was concluded in 1988 to implement the Single Act, and a second agreement in October 1993, for the period 1993 - 1998, after the Edinburgh European Council. The positive results of this attempt to rationalize the budget encouraged the Institutions to sign a new agreement on 6 May 1999 covering the period 2000 - 2006.

    The various headings for expenditure comprise a maximum ceiling which all the Institutions must respect. The financial perspective, expressed as a percentage of the Community's GNP, makes it possible to ensure consistency with the own resources ceiling, which is set by reference to the same parameter (1.27% of GNP). Any revision of the financial perspective in the event of new requirements which were unforeseen initially may not exceed this ceiling.

    The ceilings are binding. The financial perspective is therefore not just an exercise in indicative programming; similarly, it is not a multiannual budget; the annual budgetary procedure remains obligatory to set the level of expenditure and its breakdown under the various headings.

    Conclusion:

    The paper of the European Parliament after the Amsterdam Treaty has been empowered with additional rights and duties which strengthen its role as co-legislator. The EP has modified its Rules of Procedure (RoP) to take account of these changes.

    The evolution of the European Parliament has been impressive since the point of its change from a primarily consultative body to a legislative one. The proportion of policy areas where the EP is not at all involved in policy-making has declined from 72,09% in the original EEC to 37% in the "post-Amsterdam" EC. Many core and politically sensitive issues of European integration are now subject to new decision-making procedures where the EP is involved to a greater extent. Even thought the Parliament remains excluded from some policy areas such as trade or agricultural policy we can observe a long-term and constant trend of extending the EP'S legislative involvement in which we can distinguish different tendencies in various legislative procedures. Despite the fact that codecision was only provided for in 9,25% of all ECT provisions, about 25% of the European Commission's legislative proposals adressed to the European Parliament until December 1998 fell under this procedure. On the other hand, given that both procedures -cooperation and codecision- were provided for in 19,12% of all ECT provisions, the share of these two procedures in relation to the total of the Council's secondary legislation output is at a fairly low level.

    Speaking in terms of legislative influence of the European Parliament, we can conclude that where codecision was used in drafting legislation, the Parliament obtained additional rights and was often able to restrict the Council. Moreover, the financial arrangements made under codecision show that such interinstitutional solutions may prove relevant for other procedures (e.g. cooperation). In other words, the codecision procedure has led to a procedural spill-over. The institutional aspects of the cooperation procedure can be seen as having transoformed the Council-Comission dialoghe into a trialoghe. Codecision in turn leads to an equalization of these institutions at the expense of the negotiation powers of the Commission (at least during conciliation). With codecision, Parliament's influence has shifted towards real power. With the right to press the Council into conciliation or to reject the Council's common position, and thus the whole proposal, Parliament obtained real bargaining powers to change substantive issues of directives, regulations and decisions.

    Summarizing we can conclude that althought the Parliament may not appear at first glance to have been successful in implementing provisions made by the Maastricht Treaty, several other factors need to be taken into consideration. We have considered the European Union as a "polity in the making" and seen the development of both the EU and the EP as organic and evolutionary. Using this perspective in assessing the European Parliament's contribution to the production of binding legislation, we can see the EP as an increasingly important component of the EU's political system.

    References:

    • The European Union Hand Book. Edited by Philippe Barbour. Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers. Chicago - London. 1996

    • European Union Economies. A Comparative Study. Edited by Drs. Frans Somers, International Businesss School. Hanzehogeschool, Groningen. Addison Wesley Longman, New York.

    • Presentation of the European Parliament. Spanish Version. European Parliament Web Page. Estrasbourg. Visited on 23 April, 2001

    http://www.europarl.eu.int/presentation/default_es.htm

    • Rules of Procedure of the European Parliament. Official Text. European Parliament. Estrasbourg. Visited on 23 April, 2001

    http://www2.europarl.eu.int/omk/OM-Europarl?PROG=RULES-EP&L=EN&PUBREF=- //EP//TEXT+RULES-EP+-+TOC+DOC+SGML+V0//EN

    • Fact sheets on the European Parliament and the activities of the European Union. Official Text. European Parliament. Estrasbourg. Visited on 23 April, 2001

    http://www.europarl.eu.int/factsheets/default_en.htm

    Legal basis: articles 189 to 201 (137 to 144) of the EC Treaty.

    Legal basis: article 251 (189b) of the EC Treaty.

    Article 34(2)(b) (K.6) EU

    (Article 252 (189c) EC)

    (Articles 160 and 161 (130c and 130d) EC).

    Article 272 (203) EC.

    Articles 269 et seq. (201 et seq.) EC.

    Article 272 (203) EC.

    Articles 272, 275 and 276 (203, 205a and 206) EC

    Article 200 (143) EC

    Article 276 (206) EC

    Article 201 (144) EC

    Article 197 (140) EC

    Article 193 (138c) EC

    Articles 21 (J.7) and 39 (K.3) EU

    LEGAL BASIS

    - Codecision: Article 251 (189b) ECT;
    - cooperation: 252 (189c);
    - budget procedure: 272 (203);
    - appointments: 112, 195, 214, 223, 247 (109a, 138e, 158, 167, 188b);
    - quasi-constitutional procedures: 190(3) and (4), 195(4), 245, 269, 300 (138, 138e, 188, 201, 228).

    LEGAL BASIS: Articles 7, 11, 23, 24, 48(N), 49(O) EUT.

    Article 48

    Article 49

    Article 7

    Article 11

    Article 11 ECT

    Article 40, EUT

    Article 23

    Article 34

    LEGAL BASIS: - Article 272 (203) of the EC Treaty, Article 177 of the Euratom Treaty and Article 78 of the ECSC Treaty; Interinstitutional Agreement of 6 May 1999 on budgetary discipline and improvement of the budgetary procedure.

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