A deal among the key EU institutions – Parliament, the Council and the Commission - to improve the planning, quality and transparency of their law-making was endorsed by MEPs on Wednesday. It provides for more democratic long-term planning, a new database of planned EU laws, and more information for the press and public on negotiations among EU institutions.
The new agreement aims both to enhance public understanding of how the EU makes its laws and to improve the quality of new and updated EU legislation.
“The new inter-institutional agreement will be an important tool to establish and develop a new more open and transparent relationship between the institutions with a view to delivering better law-making in the interests of Union citizens”, said Danuta Hübner (EPP, PL), rapporteur and chair of parliament’s Constitutional Affairs Committee. The agreement was approved by 516 votes to 92, with 95 abstentions.
Impact assessments: balance and cost of no Europe
The institutions agree to conduct more thorough and balanced impact assessments, which should include not only the economic, environmental and social impacts of planned legislation but also, where possible, competitiveness and administrative burdens, with particular regard to small firms, digital and regional aspects.
These assessments should also estimate the “non-Europe” costs of having 28 differing national laws, or no law at all, instead of a common EU one. MEPs underline, however, that impact assessments cannot replace the political decision-making process.
Parliament won a commitment from the European Commission to make an “annual burden” survey of the costs and benefits of regulation, especially for small and medium-sized firms.
MEPs and ministers to play a greater role in EU planning
MEPs and ministers will be involved earlier in framing the EU's long-term priorities. At the start of the legislature, the three institutions will agree on multi-annual priorities, and every year, based on the Commission's Annual Work Programme, they will issue a joint declaration on annual inter-institutional priorities. Parliament will also be consulted on proposals to withdraw or simplify draft legislation.
More transparent decision-making
As a part of the deal, EU governments pledge to make clear which parts of new laws they agreed upon with their EU partners and which parts “are in no way related to that Union legislation”, but which governments themselves nonetheless choose to add when they incorporate new EU rules into their national laws.
The three institutions also agree to provide clearer insights into their informal three-way negotiations, known as “trilogues”, inter alia through clear and joint communication after agreements. There will also be a “well-structured and user-friendly” register for “delegated acts” (limited Commission powers to make minor changes to laws) and a joint database on the state of play on draft laws.
Procedure: Inter-institutional agreement
Parliament voted 154 legislative resolutions in 2015, 75 of which concerned laws co-decided with the Council
Most agreements are struck at the first reading, in informal negotiations (trilogues) between Parliament, the Council and the Commission (69% in 2015, 93% in 2014)
229 trilogues were held in 2015