The European Parliament's 24 committee chairs met the College of Commissioners for the first time on 7 October, to give their input to the Commission work programme for 2011. Participants discussed new sources of growth, the EU budget; economic and social issues; citizens, security and justice and external policies and fisheries. Further meetings will be held each year, under a recent agreement to enhance co-operation between the two institutions, in line with the Lisbon Treaty.
Parliament's delegation was lead by Klaus-Heiner Lehne (EPP, DE), who pointed out at the start that "this is a new and historic meeting, as it is the first time the Parliament's Conference of Committee Chairs meets with the College of Commissioners in joint preparation of the legislative work programme for next year. It is an example of the good co-operation between the institutions."
Discussion in five clusters
To facilitate discussion, topics were divided into five clusters: new sources of growth; budget; economic and social issues; citizens, security and justice and external policies and fisheries. Each cluster was opened by a chair of one of Parliament's committees, followed by a contribution from one of the Commissioners. There was also time for a short discussion in which MEPs could pose questions on specific legislative issues in all the clusters.
The aim of the meeting was to give Parliament's input into the Commission work programme for 2011, to be published on 27 October. Mr Lehne noted after the meeting that "this was an interesting exchange of views and a successful meeting."
After the Commission has presented the new work programme, Parliament will debate it and adopt a resolution on it in plenary session.
The Lisbon Treaty enhances co-operation between Parliament and the Commission. The meeting of committee chairs and Commissioners is a part of a new procedure that stems from the recently-negotiated Framework Agreement governing the relations between two institutions. This procedure gives enables Parliament to provide its input to following year's Commission work programme before it is adopted in October.