EU laws must be as simple and clear as possible to ensure that citizens can easily understand their rights and obligations. The European Parliament Conference of Presidents endorsed on Wednesday, with a large majority, an agreement with the Council and the Commission to improve the quality of EU legislation, which needs to focus on areas where the EU has the greatest added value for its citizens.
More coordinated programming
In future, Parliament will not only need to be consulted after the Commission has drawn up its annual work programme but also before. Moreover, the three institutions will need to agree together on multiannual and annual priorities for the EU. Furthermore, the European Parliament will have to be consulted by the Commission, if it intends to withdraw a legislative proposal, but also by the Council, if it wants to modify a legal basis during an ongoing legislative procedure.
Assessing short and long-term costs and benefits of new initiatives
Impact assessments will be reinforced to help the institutions reach well-informed decisions. Such assessments will take into account economic, environmental and social effects of new proposals on the basis of both qualitative and quantitative analyses. The cost of not taking action at European level will also be evaluated. Parliament, as well as the Council, agreed to carry out impact assessments on substantial amendments to legislative proposals where they consider this appropriate and necessary.
Parliament also obtained systematic access to expert meetings - of Commission officials and national experts - and documents in the run-up to delegated acts and the creation of a delegated acts register.
Transparency and inter-institutional cooperation
Institutions have also agreed to increase the transparency of legislative procedures. Parliament and Council will have closer contacts and coordinate communication efforts in the legislative process.
Avoiding overregulation, simplification but no deregulation
EU laws should be simplified to avoid overregulation and administrative burdens for citizens, administrations, businesses including SMEs.
Martin Schulz, President of the European Parliament, said: "The revised Inter-Institutional Agreement, which still needs to be formally approved by the Parliament, is about better law making, about improving the way we make laws, about better cooperation between the institutions, including in the area of programming and priority setting. It is about how to use impact assessments and improved consultation of the public and stakeholders. It is about better and simpler rules, avoiding overregulation and administrative burdens. It is about improving the way we take and scrutinise technical decisions and about better communication to the public".
"I believe we managed to find a very fine balance between, on the one hand, taking a critical approach to how and when we regulate at EU level, while on the other hand, recognising the added value of EU legislation and ensuring that we don't lower our level of ambition and our standards.
Guy Verhofstadt, ALDE leader and negotiator for the Conference of Presidents, said: "This is a major achievement in building trust between the three institutions and in creating an efficient, transparent, and more predictable legislative process which delivers quality legislation. It is now up to the member states to deliver quality transposition into national law".
The agreed text is now referred to the Constitutional Affairs Committee. After adoption in committee, the inter-institutional agreement will be put to the vote in plenary.