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The European Council's role in the EU policy cycle

02-09-2019

Since its establishment in 1975, the European Council, which is made up of the Since its establishment in 1975, the European Council, which is made up of the Heads of State or Government of EU Member States, has wielded considerable influence over the development of the European Union. According to the Treaties, the European Council's primary role is to 'define the general political directions and priorities' (Article 15(1) of the Treaty on European Union). This role has rapidly evolved over the ...

Since its establishment in 1975, the European Council, which is made up of the Since its establishment in 1975, the European Council, which is made up of the Heads of State or Government of EU Member States, has wielded considerable influence over the development of the European Union. According to the Treaties, the European Council's primary role is to 'define the general political directions and priorities' (Article 15(1) of the Treaty on European Union). This role has rapidly evolved over the past decade, and today the European Council's involvement in the EU policy cycle is much broader, covering tasks from agenda-setting to exercising scrutiny. In practice, its activities often exceed the role envisaged in the Treaties. This level of involvement has a significant impact both on the role of the other EU institutions within the policy cycle and the functioning of the ordinary legislative procedure.

International Agreements in Progress: The trade pillar of the EU-Mercosur Association Agreement

30-08-2019

On 28 June 2019, the European Union (EU) and the four founding members of Mercosur (the 'Southern Common Market') – Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay – reached an 'agreement in principle' on a free trade agreement (FTA) as part of a wider association agreement (AA). However, spurred by massive destruction of the Brazilian Amazon through large-scale forest fires, EU policy-makers and international environmental groups alike have since become increasingly vocal in expressing concerns about the ...

On 28 June 2019, the European Union (EU) and the four founding members of Mercosur (the 'Southern Common Market') – Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay – reached an 'agreement in principle' on a free trade agreement (FTA) as part of a wider association agreement (AA). However, spurred by massive destruction of the Brazilian Amazon through large-scale forest fires, EU policy-makers and international environmental groups alike have since become increasingly vocal in expressing concerns about the deal's potential environmental and climate change implications. EU farmers' associations with defensive interests have fiercely criticised what they have referred to as a 'cars for cows' deal. On the other hand, the deal has been warmly welcomed by EU industry associations and several sub-sectors of EU agriculture with offensive interests. If tariff and non-tariff barriers are eliminated or substantially lowered, the potential for growth in bi-regional trade in goods, services and investment is significant. In addition, the FTA would be a strong signal in favour of the rules-based multilateral trading system and against power politics in trade. After the agreement's legal review and translation, it will be presented to the Council for signature. It will then be submitted to the European Parliament for consent. Once the Council has adopted the decision concluding the agreement, it will be presented to EU Member State parliaments for ratification. First edition. The 'International Agreements in Progress' briefings are updated at key stages throughout the process, from initial discussions through to ratification.

Use of financial data for preventing and combatting serious crime

19-07-2019

On 17 April 2018, the European Commission adopted a proposal for a directive intended to facilitate law enforcement authorities' access to and use of financial information held in other jurisdictions within the EU for investigations related to terrorism and other serious crime. The proposed directive would grant competent authorities direct access to bank account information contained in centralised registries set up in each Member State, according to the Fifth Anti-Money-Laundering Directive. The ...

On 17 April 2018, the European Commission adopted a proposal for a directive intended to facilitate law enforcement authorities' access to and use of financial information held in other jurisdictions within the EU for investigations related to terrorism and other serious crime. The proposed directive would grant competent authorities direct access to bank account information contained in centralised registries set up in each Member State, according to the Fifth Anti-Money-Laundering Directive. The proposal also aims to strengthen domestic and cross-border exchange of information between EU Member States' competent authorities, including law enforcement authorities and financial intelligence units, as well as with Europol. The provisional agreement reached in February 2019 in interinstitutional negotiations was adopted by the European Parliament on 17 April 2019, followed by the Council on 14 June. On 20 June 2019, the directive was signed into law and then published in the Official Journal on 11 July. Member States have until 1 August 2021 to transpose its provisions into national law.

Follow up to the 2009 and 2014 Studies on the Code of Conduct for Commissioners - Improving Effectiveness and Efficiency

15-07-2019

The European Parliament is very attentive to the issue of transparency and integrity within the EU institutions. In the past, the EP has commissioned two studies to verify the level of effectiveness and efficiency of the Code of Conduct for Commissioners of the European Commission. This in-depth analysis verifies whether the Code of Conduct of 2018 complies with the requests the EP has made in order to guarantee the best performance in terms of transparency and integrity by the EC Commissioners. ...

The European Parliament is very attentive to the issue of transparency and integrity within the EU institutions. In the past, the EP has commissioned two studies to verify the level of effectiveness and efficiency of the Code of Conduct for Commissioners of the European Commission. This in-depth analysis verifies whether the Code of Conduct of 2018 complies with the requests the EP has made in order to guarantee the best performance in terms of transparency and integrity by the EC Commissioners. Most of the EP requests have been satisfied. However, there is still some room for improvement in terms of transparency of the Independent Ethical Committee, the cooling off period for Commissioners and provisions related to the role of the European Ombudsman within the Code. Moreover, the Code of Conduct, being a soft law instrument, could be upgraded to a hard law instrument having a stronger binding force. Finally, the EP could reiterate the study recommendations concerning stricter provisions on the involvement of Commissioners in the national, regional or local politics. ince the entry into force of the Financial Perspectives of 2007-2013 one decade ago, the EU’s budget has undergone significant change. In 2009, the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) agreed at Lisbon came into effect. This significantly modified the powers of the European Union’s institutions. The eruption of the global financial crisis in 2008, followed by the crisis particular to the euro area, led to pressure for austerity in the EU’s Member States and put pressure on the EU’s budget itself. This briefing provides a summary of these developments.

Accords internationaux en marche: Le futur partenariat de l’UE avec les pays d’Afrique, des Caraïbes et du Pacifique (« post-Cotonou »)

11-07-2019

L’accord de partenariat entre l’Union européenne et les pays d’Afrique, des Caraïbes et du Pacifique (ACP) expire en février 2020. Le principal défi pour l’Union européenne est de maintenir ses relations dans la région, tout en restant fidèle aux valeurs promues dans les traités européens. La renégociation de cet « Accord de Cotonou » offre l’opportunité de rationaliser les relations entre les pays ACP et l’Union, en tenant compte des objectifs de développement durable des Nations unies, de la redéfinition ...

L’accord de partenariat entre l’Union européenne et les pays d’Afrique, des Caraïbes et du Pacifique (ACP) expire en février 2020. Le principal défi pour l’Union européenne est de maintenir ses relations dans la région, tout en restant fidèle aux valeurs promues dans les traités européens. La renégociation de cet « Accord de Cotonou » offre l’opportunité de rationaliser les relations entre les pays ACP et l’Union, en tenant compte des objectifs de développement durable des Nations unies, de la redéfinition des stratégies européennes dans les régions concernées, des nouvelles ambitions des pays ACP et de l’évolution de l’équilibre des pouvoirs au niveau mondial. La question du financement est également sur la table. Favoriser la prospérité, la stabilité et la bonne gouvernance dans les États ACP permettrait, selon les services de l’UE, de mieux faire face aux causes profondes de la migration irrégulière et des déplacements forcés. Le groupe ACP a adopté son mandat de négociation en mai 2018. L’Union européenne a adopté le sien en juin 2018 et propose un socle commun complété par des protocoles spécifiques avec les trois sous-régions. Les négociations ont débuté en septembre 2018. Troisième édition. Les Briefings 'Accords internationaux en marche' sont actualisés à des étapes clés de la procédure de ratification. Pour voir les versions précédentes de ce briefing, voir PE 630.280, novembre 2018.

(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.

EU fertilising products

26-06-2019

Fertilising products are used to improve plant growth, mainly in agriculture, enabling higher crop yields. However, they are associated with some challenges as regards security of supply, the environment and health. Although the 2003 Fertilisers Regulation, which aimed at ensuring an internal market in fertilisers, has been effective, it mainly addresses mineral fertilisers and deters the introduction of new types of fertilisers. In March 2016, the Commission put forward a legislative proposal on ...

Fertilising products are used to improve plant growth, mainly in agriculture, enabling higher crop yields. However, they are associated with some challenges as regards security of supply, the environment and health. Although the 2003 Fertilisers Regulation, which aimed at ensuring an internal market in fertilisers, has been effective, it mainly addresses mineral fertilisers and deters the introduction of new types of fertilisers. In March 2016, the Commission put forward a legislative proposal on fertilising products, as announced in the circular economy action plan. The proposal modernises the conformity assessment and market surveillance in line with the ‘new legislative framework’ for product legislation, covers a wider range of fertilising products (including those manufactured from secondary raw materials), and sets limits for the presence of heavy metals and contaminants in fertilising products. After completion of the legislative procedure, the final act was signed on 5 June 2019. The regulation will apply in full from 16 July 2022. Fifth edition of a briefing originally drafted by Didier Bourguignon. The ‘EU Legislation in Progress’ briefings are updated at key stages throughout the legislative procedure. Please note this document has been designed for on-line viewing.

Outcome of the European Council and Euro Summit, 20-21 June 2019

26-06-2019

At their most recent meeting, EU Heads of State or Government postponed decisions on nominating a set of high-level EU appointments, including the position of President of the European Commission. EU leaders will now reconvene for a special meeting of the European Council on 30 June, with the aim of reaching an agreement on a package of candidates. On climate policy, the European Council did not achieve consensus on ensuring climate neutrality by 2050 either. Conversely, it adopted the strategic ...

At their most recent meeting, EU Heads of State or Government postponed decisions on nominating a set of high-level EU appointments, including the position of President of the European Commission. EU leaders will now reconvene for a special meeting of the European Council on 30 June, with the aim of reaching an agreement on a package of candidates. On climate policy, the European Council did not achieve consensus on ensuring climate neutrality by 2050 either. Conversely, it adopted the strategic agenda for 2019-24, setting four priority areas that will guide the work of the EU institutions over the next five years. EU leaders also discussed a wide range of external relations issues, including the situation in eastern Ukraine and the Azov Sea, and reconfirmed economic sanctions on Russia.

CAP horizontal regulation: Financing, management and monitoring of the common agricultural policy for 2021-2027

25-06-2019

As part of the preparation of the EU budget for 2021-2027, the European Commission put forward a new set of regulations to shape the future EU Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) on 1 June 2018. The proposal for a regulation on the financing, management and monitoring of the CAP provides the legislative framework for adapting the financing, management and monitoring rules to a new CAP delivery model. This seeks to achieve more subsidiarity and simplification, with greater responsibility given to Member ...

As part of the preparation of the EU budget for 2021-2027, the European Commission put forward a new set of regulations to shape the future EU Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) on 1 June 2018. The proposal for a regulation on the financing, management and monitoring of the CAP provides the legislative framework for adapting the financing, management and monitoring rules to a new CAP delivery model. This seeks to achieve more subsidiarity and simplification, with greater responsibility given to Member States, a shift from ensuring single transaction compliance to monitoring system performance in each Member State, and reduced 'red tape', among other things. Second edition. The 'EU Legislation in Progress' briefings are updated at key stages throughout the legislative procedure.

Key issues in the European Council

20-06-2019

The European Council Oversight Unit within the European Parliamentary Research Service (EPRS) monitors and analyses the activities, commitments and impact of the European Council, so as to maximize parliamentary understanding of the political dynamics of this important institution. This new EPRS publication, 'Key issues in the European Council', which will be updated quarterly to coincide with European Council meetings, aims to provide an overview of the institution’s activities on major EU issues ...

The European Council Oversight Unit within the European Parliamentary Research Service (EPRS) monitors and analyses the activities, commitments and impact of the European Council, so as to maximize parliamentary understanding of the political dynamics of this important institution. This new EPRS publication, 'Key issues in the European Council', which will be updated quarterly to coincide with European Council meetings, aims to provide an overview of the institution’s activities on major EU issues. It analyses nine policy areas, explaining the legal and political background and the main priorities and orientations defined by the European Council. It also assesses the results of European Council involvement to date and identifies future challenges in the various policy fields.

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