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1.4.1. Supranational decision-making procedures
- Codecision: Article 251 (189b) of the EC Treaty;
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 Parliament 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.
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 the structural funds 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 by a majority of its component Members formally request the Commission to submit a specific proposal.
1. Codecision procedure
The Treaty of Amsterdam extended the procedure to 15 existing legal bases and eight new ones. It simplified the procedure, placing Parliament and the Council practically on an equal footing. The procedure works like this:
a. Commission proposal
b. First reading in Parliament
c. First reading in the Council
d. Second reading in Parliament
e. Second reading in the Council
g. Conclusion of the procedure
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 Parliamentrejects 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 (see judgment in Cases 138 and 139/79,  ECR 3333). When the Council intends to substantially amend the proposal it is required to consult Parliament again (judgment in Case 65/90).
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. For conditions for implementing this procedure under the EU Treaty, * 1.4.2.
5. Budget procedure
1. The Governments of the Member States appoint, by common accord:
- 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);
2. The Council: , acting unanimously, appoints:
3. Parliament appoints the Ombudsman.
1. Conclusion of international agreements
- Decision: Council, by a qualified majority except in fields requiring unanimity for the adoption of internal regulations.
2. System of own resources
3. Provisions for election of Parliament by direct universal suffrage
4. Adoption of the Statute for Members of the European Parliament and the Statute for the Ombudsman
5. Amendment of the protocol on the Statute of the Court of Justice
a. 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.
b. At the 2000 Intergovernmental Conference, Parliament made several proposals to extend the areas to which the codecision procedure would apply. Parliament also repeatedly voiced its opinion that, if there was a change from unanimity to qualified majority, codecision should apply automatically.
c. 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.