Improving transparency at the European Parliament
A wide-ranging overhaul of the European Parliament’s Rules of Procedure was approved by 548 votes to 145, with 13 abstentions on Tuesday. Prepared by Richard Corbett (S&D, UK), the changes clarify today’s rules to improve transparency and efficiency. Racist and defamatory language and behaviour will not be tolerated.
MEPs’ declarations of financial interests are to be more detailed, regularly updated and checked. Former MEPs will required to inform Parliament when they take a new job as a lobbyist. The Code of Conduct for MEPs is strengthened and includes an explicit ban on serving MEPs taking paid lobbying jobs.
Penalties will be stepped up for MEPs who use defamatory, racist or xenophobic language or whose behaviour compromises the smooth conduct of parliamentary business (Rule 165). The penalties currently listed in Rule 166 are increased for serious breaches.
More transparent legislative work
To improve transparency, any negotiations between MEPs and the Council with a view to striking a first-reading agreement will need a mandate from the full House, and not just the relevant committee. (Rule 73 a).
Organisation of plenary and committee work
Each political group will be able to put one or two current affairs on the plenary agenda, (Rule 153 a). These debates should last at least an hour and concern a topic of major interest for European Union policy.
MEPs will no longer be formally appointed to committee posts by a plenary vote. Instead, in the next legislature they will be appointed by political groups, according to the number of seats to which they are entitled.
Improving the efficiency of parliamentary work
The overhaul includes changes needed to implement the inter-institutional agreement on better law-making. It provides inter alia possibilities for the President to negotiate the annual joint declaration on legislative priorities, and a committee to fast-track a legislative procedure. It also creates an obligation for the EU Commission to debate any proposed withdrawal of its proposals before proceeding with it.
MEPs also adapted the Rules to improve the efficiency of parliamentary work. These limit the numbers of written questions, motions for resolutions and requests for roll-call votes.
Finally, the overhaul rationalises the number of voting thresholds, reducing them from 37 today to three, a change that could be revised after a year.
Entry into force
Under Rule 227, the approved changes will enter into force on the first day of the part-session following their adoption, i.e. 16 January 2017. They will therefore govern the way Parliament works in the second half of the legislature.
For further information, please refer to the Background Note