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The powers of the European Parliament

04-11-2019

Since its inception in 1951, the European Parliament has come a long way. Initially a consultative body composed of delegations of national parliaments, it became a directly elected institution, obtained budgetary and legislative powers, and now exercises influence over most aspects of EU affairs. Together with representatives of national governments, who sit in the Council, Parliament co-decides on European legislation, in what could be seen as a bicameral legislature at EU level. It can reject ...

Since its inception in 1951, the European Parliament has come a long way. Initially a consultative body composed of delegations of national parliaments, it became a directly elected institution, obtained budgetary and legislative powers, and now exercises influence over most aspects of EU affairs. Together with representatives of national governments, who sit in the Council, Parliament co-decides on European legislation, in what could be seen as a bicameral legislature at EU level. It can reject or amend the European Commission's proposals before adopting them so that they become law. Together with the Council of the EU, it adopts the EU budget and controls its implementation. Another core set of European Parliament prerogatives concerns the scrutiny of the EU executive – mainly the Commission. Such scrutiny can take many forms, including parliamentary questions, committees of inquiry and special committees, and scrutiny of delegated and implementing acts. Parliament has made use of these instruments to varying degrees. Parliament has the power to dismiss the Commission (motion of censure), and it plays a significant role in the latter's appointment process. Parliament has a say over the very foundations of the EU. Its consent is required before any new country joins the EU, and before a withdrawal treaty is concluded if a country decides to leave it. Most international agreements entered into by the EU with third countries also require Parliament's consent. Parliament can initiate Treaty reform, and also the 'Article 7(1) TEU' procedure, aimed at determining whether there is a (risk of) serious breach of EU values by a Member State.

Hearings of the Commissioners-designate: Maroš Šefčovič – Vice-President: Interinstitutional Relations and Foresight

26-09-2019

This briefing is one in a set looking at the Commissioners-designate and their portfolios as put forward by Commission President-elect Ursula von der Leyen. Each candidate faces a three-hour public hearing, organised by one or more parliamentary committees. After that process, those committees will judge the candidates' suitability for the role based on 'their general competence, European commitment and personal independence', as well as their 'knowledge of their prospective portfolio and their communication ...

This briefing is one in a set looking at the Commissioners-designate and their portfolios as put forward by Commission President-elect Ursula von der Leyen. Each candidate faces a three-hour public hearing, organised by one or more parliamentary committees. After that process, those committees will judge the candidates' suitability for the role based on 'their general competence, European commitment and personal independence', as well as their 'knowledge of their prospective portfolio and their communication skills'. At the end of the hearings process, Parliament votes on the proposed Commission as a bloc, and under the Treaties may only reject the entire College of Commissioners, rather than individual candidates. The Briefing provides an overview of key issues in the portfolio areas, as well as Parliament's activity in the last term in that field. It also includes a brief introduction to the candidate.

How EU Treaties are changed

20-09-2019

The EU's founding Treaties have been revised by the Member States in numerous rounds of reforms. Such Treaty revision is a way to ensure that EU primary law evolves, adapts, and responds to new developments and changing needs. The last comprehensive Treaty reform dates back to the Lisbon Treaty, which entered into force on 1 December 2009. While another comprehensive Treaty change is not yet on the agenda, the recent debates on the 'Future of Europe' triggered a number of reform proposals, some of ...

The EU's founding Treaties have been revised by the Member States in numerous rounds of reforms. Such Treaty revision is a way to ensure that EU primary law evolves, adapts, and responds to new developments and changing needs. The last comprehensive Treaty reform dates back to the Lisbon Treaty, which entered into force on 1 December 2009. While another comprehensive Treaty change is not yet on the agenda, the recent debates on the 'Future of Europe' triggered a number of reform proposals, some of which would necessitate revision of the EU Treaties. Such revision is governed by Article 48 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU), which provides for two main procedures: the ordinary and the simplified revision procedures. The former applies to the TEU, to the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU (TFEU) and to the Euratom Treaty; the latter only to part of the TFEU.

(Non-)replacement of Commissioners elected to EP

03-07-2019

Having been elected to the European Parliament, two current members of the College of Commissioners have resigned as Commissioners in order to take up their seats. As a general rule, a vacancy caused in this way needs to be filled by a new Commissioner of the same nationality – unless the Council unanimously decides otherwise. On 16 June 2019, given the short duration of the remainder of the current Commission’s mandate, the Commission President, Jean-Claude Juncker, proposed not to replace the departing ...

Having been elected to the European Parliament, two current members of the College of Commissioners have resigned as Commissioners in order to take up their seats. As a general rule, a vacancy caused in this way needs to be filled by a new Commissioner of the same nationality – unless the Council unanimously decides otherwise. On 16 June 2019, given the short duration of the remainder of the current Commission’s mandate, the Commission President, Jean-Claude Juncker, proposed not to replace the departing Commissioners.

Rules on political groups in the EP

05-06-2019

Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) may form political groups; these are organised not by nationality, but by political affiliation. Since the first direct elections in 1979, the number of political groups has fluctuated between seven and ten. Following the 2019 elections, the number, size and composition of political groups is likely to continue to fluctuate, as a result of the possible dissolution of some political groups and the creation of new ones. To form a political group, a minimum ...

Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) may form political groups; these are organised not by nationality, but by political affiliation. Since the first direct elections in 1979, the number of political groups has fluctuated between seven and ten. Following the 2019 elections, the number, size and composition of political groups is likely to continue to fluctuate, as a result of the possible dissolution of some political groups and the creation of new ones. To form a political group, a minimum of 25 MEPs, elected in at least one quarter (currently seven) of the EU's Member States is required. Those Members who do not belong to any political group are known as 'non-attached' (non-inscrits) Members. Although the political groups play a very prominent role in Parliament's life, individual MEPs and/or several MEPs acting together, also have many rights, including in relation to the exercise of oversight over other EU institutions, such as the Commission. However, belonging to a political group is of particular relevance when it comes to the allocation of key positions in Parliament's political and organisational structures, such as committee and delegation chairs and rapporteurships on important dossiers. Moreover, political groups receive higher funding for their collective staff and parliamentary activities than the non-attached MEPs. Political group funding, however, is distinct from funding granted to European political parties and foundations, which, if they comply with the requirements to register as such, may apply for funding from the European Parliament.

Adapting legal acts to Articles 290 and 291 TFEU

10-04-2019

By introducing delegated and implementing acts, the Lisbon Treaty (2007) reformed the system of conferring upon the Commission the power to adopt non-legislative measures. However, a certain category of pre-Lisbon acts, referred to as 'regulatory procedure with scrutiny' (RPS) measures, remained unaligned to the new system. Following Commission proposals of December 2016, a number of acts referring to RPS are now to be aligned with the Lisbon Treaty, while others remain to be negotiated. Having reached ...

By introducing delegated and implementing acts, the Lisbon Treaty (2007) reformed the system of conferring upon the Commission the power to adopt non-legislative measures. However, a certain category of pre-Lisbon acts, referred to as 'regulatory procedure with scrutiny' (RPS) measures, remained unaligned to the new system. Following Commission proposals of December 2016, a number of acts referring to RPS are now to be aligned with the Lisbon Treaty, while others remain to be negotiated. Having reached an agreement with the Council on 64 acts, the Parliament is expected to vote on the proposals during its April II plenary session.

Election of the President of the European Commission: Understanding the Spitzenkandidaten process

05-04-2019

The European Parliament has long sought to ensure that, by voting in European elections, European citizens not only elect the Parliament itself, but also have a say over who would head the EU executive – the European Commission. What became known as the 'Spitzenkandidaten process' is a procedure whereby European political parties, ahead of European elections, appoint lead candidates for the role of Commission President, with the presidency of the Commission then going to the candidate of the political ...

The European Parliament has long sought to ensure that, by voting in European elections, European citizens not only elect the Parliament itself, but also have a say over who would head the EU executive – the European Commission. What became known as the 'Spitzenkandidaten process' is a procedure whereby European political parties, ahead of European elections, appoint lead candidates for the role of Commission President, with the presidency of the Commission then going to the candidate of the political party capable of marshalling sufficient parliamentary support. The Parliament remains firmly committed to repeating the process in 2019 and, with EP elections now only weeks away, attention has shifted to the European political parties. A number of parties have nominated lead candidates, and this briefing gives an overview of their nominees, as well as looking more broadly at the process. This is a revised and further updated edition of an earlier briefing; previous edition from February 2019.

Revising the European Citizens' Initiative

06-03-2019

The European Citizens' Initiative (ECI) has been in operation for almost seven years, and the rules governing its functioning are now subject to revision. Following interinstitutional negotiations, the Parliament and Council reached a provisional agreement on the Commission's proposal to revise the ECI. That agreement now requires formal approval by the co-legislators, and the European Parliament is expected to vote on the proposal during its March I plenary session.

The European Citizens' Initiative (ECI) has been in operation for almost seven years, and the rules governing its functioning are now subject to revision. Following interinstitutional negotiations, the Parliament and Council reached a provisional agreement on the Commission's proposal to revise the ECI. That agreement now requires formal approval by the co-legislators, and the European Parliament is expected to vote on the proposal during its March I plenary session.

Reviewing the implementation of specific Treaty provisions

06-02-2019

On 22 January 2019, the European Parliament's Committee on Constitutional Affairs adopted three own-initiative reports, dealing with the implementation of the specific Treaty provisions on EU citizenship, enhanced cooperation and parliamentary scrutiny of the European Commission. Parliament is expected to discuss these reports during its February plenary session.

On 22 January 2019, the European Parliament's Committee on Constitutional Affairs adopted three own-initiative reports, dealing with the implementation of the specific Treaty provisions on EU citizenship, enhanced cooperation and parliamentary scrutiny of the European Commission. Parliament is expected to discuss these reports during its February plenary session.

The EU-UK withdrawal agreement: Progress to date and remaining difficulties

12-07-2018

With the United Kingdom set to leave the European Union in less than one year's time, negotiations to finalise a withdrawal agreement, as provided for under Article 50 TEU, are coming up against an increasingly tight deadline. Recent progress in agreeing a number of key 'exit' issues prompted the decision to begin discussions on the future EU-UK relationship. However, significant challenges still remain before the conclusion of a withdrawal agreement, on which the transition period requested by the ...

With the United Kingdom set to leave the European Union in less than one year's time, negotiations to finalise a withdrawal agreement, as provided for under Article 50 TEU, are coming up against an increasingly tight deadline. Recent progress in agreeing a number of key 'exit' issues prompted the decision to begin discussions on the future EU-UK relationship. However, significant challenges still remain before the conclusion of a withdrawal agreement, on which the transition period requested by the UK also depends. This EPRS In-depth Analysis considers the draft withdrawal agreement published by the European Commission on 19 March 2018, as well as the (few) additional points settled in negotiations in the period up to June 2018. It seeks to provide an overview of the main areas already settled by the negotiators, as well as of those areas of persisting difficulty or disagreement.

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