Procedure : 2014/2252(INI)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected : A8-0301/2015

Texts tabled :

A8-0301/2015

Debates :

PV 11/04/2016 - 16
CRE 11/04/2016 - 16

Votes :

PV 12/04/2016 - 5.10

Texts adopted :

P8_TA(2016)0103

REPORT     
PDF 312kWORD 133k
16 October 2015
PE 557.127v02-00 A8-0301/2015

on the Annual reports 2012-2013 on subsidiarity and proportionality

(2014/2252(INI))

Committee on Legal Affairs

Rapporteur: Sajjad Karim

MOTION FOR A EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT RESOLUTION
 OPINION of the Committee on International Trade
 OPINION of the Committee on Budgetary Control
 OPINION of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs
 OPINION of the Committee on Constitutional Affairs
 RESULT OF FINAL VOTE IN COMMITTEE RESPONSIBLE

MOTION FOR A EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT RESOLUTION

on the Annual reports 2012-2013 on subsidiarity and proportionality

(2014/2252(INI))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Interinstitutional Agreement on better law-making(1),

–  having regard to the practical arrangements agreed on 22 July 2011 between the competent services of the European Parliament and the Council for the implementation of Article 294(4) TFEU in the event of agreements at first reading,

–  having regard to its resolution of 4 February 2014 on EU Regulatory Fitness and Subsidiarity and Proportionality – 19th report on Better Lawmaking covering the year 2011(2),

–  having regard to its resolution of 13 September 2012 on the 18th report on Better legislation – Application of the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality (2010)(3),

–  having regard to its resolution of 14 September 2011 on better legislation, subsidiarity and proportionality and smart regulation(4),

–  having regard to the Commission’s annual report 2012 on subsidiarity and proportionality (COM(2013)0566) and to the Commission’s annual report 2013 on subsidiarity and proportionality (COM(2014)0506),

–  having regard to the Council Conclusions on Smart Regulation of 4 December 2014,

–  having regard to the Conclusions of the Conference of Speakers of the European Union Parliaments of 21 April 2015,

–  having regard to the Bi-annual reports of COSAC on Developments in European Union Procedures and Practices Relevant to Parliamentary Scrutiny of 27 September 2012, 17 May 2013, 4 October 2013, 19 June 2014, 14 November 2014,

–  having regard to the final report of 14 October 2014 of the High Level Group of Independent Stakeholders on Administrative Burdens, entitled ‘Cutting Red Tape in Europe – Legacy and Outlook’(5),

–  having regard to Rule 52 and Rule 132 of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Legal Affairs and the opinions of the Committee on International Trade, the Committee on Budgetary Control, the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs and the Committee on Constitutional Affairs (A8-0301/2015),

A.  whereas in 2012, the Commission received reasoned opinions addressing 83 legislative proposals; whereas the total number of submissions received in 2012 was 292, including those submissions which did not qualify as reasoned opinions;

B.  whereas in 2013, the Commission received reasoned opinions addressing 99 legislative proposals; whereas the total number of submissions received in 2013 was 313, including those submissions which did not qualify as reasoned opinions;

C.  whereas in 2012, national parliaments issued 12 reasoned opinions on the Monti II proposal(6), representing 19 votes (18 being the threshold), and thus for the first time triggered a so-called yellow card, which requires the institution that has presented the proposal to review it and to justify its decision as regards whether to withdraw, to amend or to maintain the proposal;

D.  whereas the Commission withdrew the Monti II proposal but stated that it considered the proposal to be in conformity with the principle of subsidiarity and that the proposal was withdrawn in view of insufficient support for it in the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers(7);

E.  whereas in 2013, national parliaments issued 13 reasoned opinions on the proposal for the establishment of a European Public Prosecutor’s Office(8), representing 18 votes, thereby triggering the second yellow card procedure;

F.  whereas the Commission concluded that its proposal complied with the principle of subsidiarity and that a withdrawal or an amendment of the proposal was not required; whereas the Commission declared that in the legislative process it would take due account of the reasoned opinions(9);

G.  whereas several national parliaments expressed concern regarding the Commission’s approach, considering the justifications and arguments presented by the Commission insufficient; whereas the Legal Affairs Committee and the Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee of the European Parliament held debates on this topic;

H.  whereas in the subsequent negotiations with the Council on the European Public Prosecutor the scope and working methodologies have been narrowed as compared with the initial proposal upon which the reasoned opinions were issued;

I.  whereas given its right of initiative, the Commission has a responsibility to ensure that the correct choices about whether and how to propose action at EU level are made at an early stage of policy development;

J.  whereas the Commission is undertaking a revision of the guidelines applying to the impact assessment process, which includes consideration of subsidiarity and proportionality;

K.  whereas the Parliament has established its own Impact Assessment Unit, which produced 50 initial appraisals and two detailed appraisals of Commission impact assessments in 2013;

L.  whereas national parliaments have observed that the inclusion of significant and numerous delegated powers makes it difficult to effectively evaluate whether final rules would comply with the principle of subsidiarity;

M.  whereas the subsidiarity and proportionality check as well as an impact assessment are done only at the beginning of the legislative process;

1.  Observes that the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality are fundamental guiding principles for the European Union;

2.  Emphasises that the use of the EU’s competences should be guided by the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality, as stated in Article 5 of the Treaty on European Union; welcomes the fact that in 2012 and 2013 compliance with these two principles was carefully scrutinised by the EU institutions and by national parliaments;

3.  Welcomes the closer participation and stronger involvement of national parliaments in the European legislative process in recent years, which has resulted in an increased awareness of the principles on which the EU is founded, including the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality in the interinstitutional context; notes, however, that further work still needs to be done in this context; suggests as a first step that the Commission engage in a yearly debate with each of the national parliaments in order to strengthen the dialogue between the Commission and the national parliaments;

4.  Believes furthermore that the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality represent the starting point for policy formulation; stresses therefore the importance of assessing at the beginning of the legislative process whether policy objectives can be achieved better at European level than by means of national or regional initiatives;

5.    Notes the importance of parliaments and of their territorial impact and closeness to the citizens, and calls, where appropriate, for their greater involvement in the early warning system;

6.  Notes, however, that a majority of opinions by national parliaments are submitted by only a few national chambers; encourages the other chambers to become more involved in the European debate;

7.  Stresses the need for the European institutions to respect the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality embodied in Article 5 of the Treaty on European Union and Protocol No 2 to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, which are of a general nature and binding on the institutions exercising the powers of the Union, except for those areas which fall within the exclusive remit of the Union, where the subsidiarity principle does not apply;

8.  Considers that the mechanism for verification of the subsidiarity principle is of major importance for collaboration between European and national institutions;

9.  Regrets therefore that the annual reports prepared by the Commission are somewhat perfunctory, and often do not delve into a more detailed consideration of how subsidiarity and, in particular, proportionality are observed in EU policy-making;

10.  Notes the methodology of the Commission in the 2012 and 2013 Annual reports, within which statistics are used to classify reasoned opinions submitted by national parliaments on a package of proposals as only one reasoned opinion, rather than a reasoned opinion on each of the individual proposals;

11.  Notes that, when taken as a whole, the proportion of reasoned opinions has increased significantly as a percentage of total submissions when compared to 2010 and 2011 and that in 2012 reasoned opinions represented 25 % of all submissions, while in 2013 they accounted for 30 % of submissions from national parliaments under the Protocol 2 process; notes in this regard the consultation of national parliaments in the legislative process;

12.  Points out that 2012 saw the first use of the so-called yellow card procedure by national parliaments regarding the principle of subsidiarity in response to the Commission’s proposal for a regulation on the exercise of the right to take collective action within the context of freedom of establishment and the freedom to provide services (Monti II); notes that although the Commission concluded that the principle of subsidiarity had not been breached it did withdraw the proposal due to lack of political support; remarks that a second so-called yellow card was triggered in 2013 on the Commission’s proposal for a Council Regulation on the establishment of the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO); notes that Commission concluded that the proposal complied with the principle of subsidiarity and decided to maintain it;

13.  Notes that reasoned opinions issued by national parliaments point out the existence of various interpretations of the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality; recalls in this context that the subsidiarity principle as formulated in the Treaties allows the Union to act in areas which do not fall within its exclusive competence only ‘if and in so far as the objectives of the proposed action cannot be sufficiently achieved by the Member States, either at central level or at regional and local level, but can rather, by reason of scale or effects of the proposed action, be better achieved at Union level’; recalls equally that ‘under the principle of proportionality, the content and form of Union action shall not exceed what is necessary to achieve the objective of the Treaties’; encourages national parliaments to be faithful to the letter of the TEU when assessing compliance with the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality; strongly recommends that national parliaments and European institutions engage in exchanges of views and practices of scrutinising subsidiarity and proportionality;

14.  Notes that the reasoned opinions submitted by national parliaments vary considerably with regard to the types of arguments raised and their form; regrets the absence of common patterns which makes it more difficult to evaluate on what basis national parliaments intervene;

15.  Recalls concerns raised in previous Parliament reports regarding instances where subsidiarity had not been adequately addressed in impact assessments (IAs) prepared by the Commission; further recalls that the Annual Reports of the Impact Assessment Board (IAB) have raised this issue; notes that the IAB considered more than 30 % of IAs reviewed by them in 2012 and 2013 to have included an unsatisfactory analysis of the principle of subsidiarity; expresses concern that this number rose to 50 % in 2014, and urges the Commission in its revision of the guidelines for IAs to address this issue and reverse this trend;

16.  Notes the importance of impact assessments as decision-making aids in the legislative process and stresses the need, in this connection, to give due consideration to issues relating to subsidiarity and proportionality;

17.  Stresses that thorough impact assessments which thoroughly evaluate subsidiarity compliance are essential to improve the trust of citizens, who often consider the subsidiarity principle a key aspect of the democratic process; highlights, therefore, that enhanced subsidiarity checks could be considered an important tool for reducing the so-called ‘democratic deficit’;

18.  Reiterates the call made in its abovementioned resolution of 14 September 2011 for the use of national impact assessments as a complement to those carried out by the Commission – the reform of which is under discussion – in support of proposed legislation; believes that Parliament’s recently created impact assessment units will offer a positive complement to the Commission’s work;

19.  Expresses disappointment at the response of the Commission to national parliaments in instances where yellow cards have been issued; believes that it is necessary for the Commission to respond comprehensively to any concerns raised by national parliaments, and on an individual basis as part of a dialogue in addition to any published opinion; considers that it is also necessary for the Commission to appear before the relevant committee or committees of the Parliament to explain its position in detail;

20.  Highlights that the yellow card procedure, which is an instrument for influencing EU decision-making, could effectively be strengthened by an earlier exchange of information on positions of national parliaments and therefore encourages national parliaments to exchange views on the scope and evaluation methods applied in order to assess conformity with the subsidiarity and proportionality principles;

21.  Believes that political dialogue is increasingly important in ensuring that subsidiarity is respected; considers that political dialogue should be improved not only in instances of a yellow or orange card, but as a general rule; welcomes in this regard the Juncker Commission’s undertaking to appear before more national parliaments, and calls for the Parliament to consider undertaking similar initiatives; believes that rapporteurs could be encouraged to engage more often with national parliaments, particularly as video-conferencing and other methods of online engagement are made easier and more effective;

22.  Stresses that the European institutions and the national parliaments should continue to work to promote a ‘subsidiarity culture’ across the EU; recommends two particular initiatives which will aid better consideration of subsidiarity in the legislative process at present, namely facilitating greater inclusion of positions, perspectives or other suggestions made by national parliaments in the political dialogue, in particular in the course of preparatory work such as Green Papers or White Papers produced by the Commission, and considering an extension of the time period for consultation of national parliaments under the subsidiarity check if national parliaments request this on grounds of time constraints on the basis of justified objective reasons, such as natural disasters and recess periods, to be agreed between national parliaments and the Commission; considers that this could be achieved through a political undertaking agreed by the institutions and the national parliaments in the first instance, without giving rise to a delay in the adoption of relevant legislation;

23.  Considers it important that the yellow card procedure be easily implementable for parliaments, while reaffirming the principle of subsidiarity in accordance with the Treaties;

24.  Notes that several national parliaments in COSAC have expressed their interest in proposing the introduction of a green card as an instrument for improving political dialogue, which would afford national parliaments, having first secured the support of Parliament, the opportunity to make constructive proposals for the Commission’s consideration and with due regard for the Commission’s right of initiative;

25.  Notes that legislative proposals may change dramatically in the lead-up to adoption by the institutions; recalls that a check on compliance with the principle of subsidiarity is only undertaken at the outset and not at the conclusion of the legislative process; further recalls that impact assessments more generally are only prepared for the initial rather than the final stages of the legislative process; stresses the need for a mid-term evaluation after the opening of the adoption procedure, and at the end of the legislative process, making it possible in certain cases to issue a warning to Member States failing to respect the principle of subsidiarity;

26.  Calls therefore for a further subsidiarity check and full impact assessment to be undertaken at the conclusion of the legislative negotiations and in advance of the adoption of a final text, in order that compliance with subsidiarity can be guaranteed and that assessments including proportionality can be made; believes that such a ‘cooling off’ period would help policy-makers in assessing whether legislation complies with the principles of the Union, and would increase transparency about the results of periods of often rather intense negotiation;

27.  Takes note of the new Commission’s policy goals relating to initiatives and proposals for EU legislation, namely: minimum cost; benefits for citizens, businesses and workers; and avoidance of unnecessary regulatory burdens;

28.  Considers that programmes under the multiannual financial framework should assess and prove compliance with the subsidiarity principle in terms of demonstrable added value within the beneficiary Member States;

29.  Asks the Commission, in compliance with the proportionality and subsidiarity principles, to simplify the procedure for applying for EU funds, with a view to making the application procedure more efficient and results-oriented;

30.  Underlines its commitment to ensuring compliance with principles of subsidiarity and proportionality through assessments of its own legislative own-initiative reports, ex-ante appraisals of Commission impact assessments and the constant assessment of the potential EU added value and the ‘cost of non-Europe’;

31.  Emphasises the need to clarify in relation to the principle of subsidiarity the division of competences when trade policies impact on investments other than the foreign direct ones, namely portfolio investments, as controversies persist in current Free Trade Agreements; notes namely the recent discussions on investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) and the Commission’s proposals to update and reform the current model; emphasises in this regard that the Member States should also take responsibility for their part in this process, given their existing commitment through bilateral agreements with third countries; calls for the proportionality principle to be respected when bilateral safeguard clauses are negotiated and applied; recalls that Article 3 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union designates the common commercial policy as an integral area of exclusive Union competence which shall be based on uniform principles; notes, therefore, that the principle of subsidiarity does not apply to the common commercial policy;

32.  Calls for clarification of whether trade instruments, such as ISDS, could jeopardise the subsidiarity principle with respect to the competences of the Member States; calls on the Member States to unblock the UNCITRAL Convention on Transparency in Treaty-Based Investor-State Arbitration in order for the Commission to sign the convention on behalf of the whole Union; deplores the current situation in which some Member States are party to the convention while others are not; considers that this example clearly demonstrates the need for clarity on all sides regarding the scope of the Union’s exclusive competence on foreign direct investment; recalls that different policies implemented by the Member States as regards investment protection have led to the current situation in which the Member States are party to some 1 400 bilateral investment treaties with, at times, different provisions, which could lead to distortions within the single market and unequal treatment of EU investors abroad;

33.  With respect to EU financial assistance to other countries, namely macro-financial assistance, calls for more in-depth ex-ante and ex-post impact assessments regarding the proportionality of the proposed measures in order for the assistance to be efficient and genuinely helpful to our partners in need; insists on the necessity of establishing greater conditionality for disbursement of the assistance and proper control of the use of the funds, including measures in relation to the prevention of, and fight against, fraud and corruption, and detailed scrutiny by Parliament; calls for a strong integration of the EU’s external instruments, combining trade, development and foreign and security policy; stresses that the Member States have to show more commitment in this regard;

34.  Points out the utmost importance of proper consultation, dialogue and involvement of citizens, businesses (namely SMEs) and civil society in the EU decision-making process for trade policy;

o

o  o

35.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council and the Commission.

(1)

OJ C 321, 31.12.2003, p.1.

(2)

Texts adopted, P7_TA(2014)0061.

(3)

OJ C 353 E, 3.12.2013, p. 117.

(4)

OJ C 51 E, 22.2.2013, p. 87.

(5)

http://ec.europa.eu/smart-regulation/refit/admin_burden/docs/08-10web_ce-brocuttingredtape_en.pdf

(6)

Proposal for a Council Regulation on the exercise of the right to take collective action within the context of the freedom of establishment and the freedom to provide services - COM(2012) 130.

(7)

Letter of 12 September 2012 by Vice-President Šefčovič to National Parliaments.

(8)

Commission proposal for the establishment of the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) - COM(2013) 534.

(9)

Communication to the European parliament, the Council and National Parliaments on the review of the proposal for a Council Regulation on the establishment of the European Public Prosecutor’s Office with regard to the principle of subsidiarity, in accordance with Protocol No 2 of 27.11.2013 (COM(2013) 851 final).


OPINION of the Committee on International Trade (17.6.2015)

for the Committee on Legal Affairs

on Annual reports 2012-2013 on subsidiarity and proportionality

(2014/2252(INI))

Rapporteur: David Borrelli

SUGGESTIONS

The Committee on International Trade calls on the Committee on Legal Affairs, as the committee responsible, to incorporate the following suggestions into its motion for a resolution:

1.  Notes the importance of the common commercial policy, in which the EU can leverage its scale for maximal impact in negotiations, and EU economic relations with third countries and regional organisations for EU growth and jobs; is therefore of the view that the principle of proportionality and, where applicable, subsidiarity should be duly respected also in these policy areas, especially when trade agreements are determined to be of a mixed nature; welcomes the Commission’s initiative to seek clarity on the issue of the mixed nature of trade agreements by referring the EU-Singapore Free Trade Agreement to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU); hopes that the CJEU’s opinion will be a way of progressing towards greater clarity regarding which features of EU trade negotiations touch on Member States’ responsibility; stresses that clarity should lay the foundations for a more effective negotiating position for the EU and for a speedier procedure for ratification of trade agreements between the EU and third countries; stresses in this regard the fundamental importance of transparency when carrying out trade negotiations;

2.  Emphasises the need to clarify in relation to the principle of subsidiarity the division of competences when trade policies impact on investments other than the foreign direct ones, namely portfolio investments, as controversies persist in current Free Trade Agreements; notes namely the recent discussions on investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) and the Commission’s proposals to update and reform the current model; emphasises in this regard that the Member States should also take responsibility for their part in this process, given their existing commitment through bilateral agreements with third countries; calls for the proportionality principle to be respected when bilateral safeguard clauses are negotiated and applied; recalls that Article 3 TFEU designates the common commercial policy as an integral area of exclusive Union competence which shall be based on uniform principles; notes, therefore, that the principle of subsidiarity does not apply to the common commercial policy;

3.  Calls for clarification of whether trade instruments, such as ISDS, could jeopardise the subsidiarity principle with respect to the competences of Member States; calls on Member States to unblock the UNCITRAL Convention on Transparency in Treaty-Based Investor-State Arbitration in order for the Commission to sign the convention on behalf of the whole Union; deplores the current situation in which some Member States are party to the convention while others are not; considers that this example clearly demonstrates the need for clarity on all sides regarding the scope of the Union’s exclusive competence on foreign direct investment; recalls that different policies implemented by Member States as regards investment protection have led to the current situation in which Member States are party to some 1 400 bilateral investment treaties with, at times, different provisions, which could lead to distortions within the single market and unequal treatment of EU investors abroad;

4.  With respect to EU financial assistance to other countries, namely macro-financial assistance, calls for more in-depth ex-ante and ex-post impact assessments regarding the proportionality of the proposed measures in order for the assistance to be efficient and genuinely helpful to our partners in need; insists on the necessity of establishing greater conditionality for disbursement of the assistance and proper control of the use of the funds, including measures in relation to the prevention of, and fight against, fraud and corruption, and detailed scrutiny by Parliament; calls for a strong integration of the EU’s external instruments, combining trade, development and foreign and security policy; stresses that the Member States have to show more commitment in this regard;

5.  Notes that existing preferential trade agreements have shown that they can be beneficial for the European economy and lead to growth and jobs; stresses that the effects of trade agreements depend on the outcome of negotiations and that impact projections are therefore always based on certain assumptions; calls on the Commission to carry out sustainability impact assessments before the launch of trade agreement negotiations in a broader ex-ante impact assessment exercise to assess the economic, social and environmental impact on EU citizens and businesses, in particular SMEs; stresses that the Member States should also play a key role in assessing the potential benefits and implications of preferential trade agreements for their own economy;

6.  Points out the utmost importance of proper consultation, dialogue and involvement of citizens, businesses (namely SMEs) and civil society in the EU decision-making process for trade policy.

RESULT OF FINAL VOTE IN COMMITTEE

Date adopted

16.6.2015

 

 

 

Result of final vote

+:

–:

0:

30

3

6

Members present for the final vote

William (The Earl of) Dartmouth, Maria Arena, Tiziana Beghin, David Campbell Bannerman, Daniel Caspary, Salvatore Cicu, Santiago Fisas Ayxelà, Eleonora Forenza, Yannick Jadot, Ska Keller, Jude Kirton-Darling, Bernd Lange, Marine Le Pen, Emmanuel Maurel, Emma McClarkin, Anne-Marie Mineur, Sorin Moisă, Artis Pabriks, Franck Proust, Godelieve Quisthoudt-Rowohl, Viviane Reding, Tokia Saïfi, Marietje Schaake, Helmut Scholz, Joachim Schuster, Joachim Starbatty, Adam Szejnfeld, Iuliu Winkler, Jan Zahradil

Substitutes present for the final vote

Eric Andrieu, Dita Charanzová, Frédérique Ries, Fernando Ruas, Jarosław Wałęsa

Substitutes under Rule 200(2) present for the final vote

Mercedes Bresso, Rosa D’Amato, Kaja Kallas, Afzal Khan, Marc Tarabella


OPINION of the Committee on Budgetary Control (7.5.2015)

for the Committee on Legal Affairs

on the Annual reports 2012-2013 on subsidiarity and proportionality

(2014/2252(INI))

Rapporteur: Patricija Šulin

SUGGESTIONS

The Committee on Budgetary Control calls on the Committee on Legal Affairs, as the committee responsible, to incorporate the following suggestions into its motion for a resolution:

A.  whereas Article 5 of the Treaty on European Union and Protocol No 2 thereto lay down rules on the application of the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality;

B.  whereas these principles are important tools for shaping policies for the benefit of EU citizens and are thus also instruments for assessing the financial impact of legislation;

1.  Welcomes the Commission’s launching of a public consultation on the revision of its impact assessment guidelines and on the stakeholder consultation guidelines(1), following Parliament’s request for improvement of communication with civil society made in its resolution of 14 September 2011 on better legislation, subsidiarity and proportionality and smart regulation(2);

2.  Takes note of the new Commission’s policy goals relating to initiatives and proposals for EU legislation, namely: minimum cost; benefits for citizens, businesses and workers; and avoidance of unnecessary regulatory burdens;

3.  Points out that evaluation of the subsidiarity and proportionality principles is part and parcel of EU policymaking; asks the Commission to promote proper assessment of the EU added value and the usefulness and necessity of EU action;

4.  Notes that a full evaluation of the results of the policies favoured by the Commission will be used in the preparation of the EU budget by the budgetary authorities;

5.  Considers that programmes under the multiannual financial framework should assess and prove compliance with the subsidiarity principle in terms of demonstrable added value within the beneficiary Member States;

6.  Is concerned that EU budget funds are in some cases spent on projects which do not achieve effective results; encourages the Commission, therefore, to consider introducing in loco assessments for projects having a major local financial impact;

7.  Reiterates the call made in its abovementioned resolution of 14 September 2011 for the use of national impact assessments as a complement to those carried out by the Commission – the reform of which is under discussion – in support of proposed legislation; believes that Parliament’s recently created impact assessment units will offer a positive complement to the Commission’s work;

8.  Invites the Commission to suggest to the Court of Auditors the inclusion in its Special Reports on shared management, where appropriate, of a subsidiarity and proportionality check on EU instruments;

9.  Asks the Commission, in compliance with the proportionality and subsidiarity principles, to simplify the procedure for applying for EU funds, with a view to making the application procedure more efficient and results-oriented;

10.  Reminds the Commission of Parliament’s responsibility to scrutinise the implementation of the EU budget and to hold the Commission accountable for its management; points out that parliamentary scrutiny has a cost dimension, and should focus on how to remedy the irregularities committed and prevent errors;

11.  Expects the Commission to develop synergies between EU, national and subnational budgets and to submit them to evaluation with regard to the subsidiarity principle.

RESULT OF FINAL VOTE IN COMMITTEE

Date adopted

5.5.2015

 

 

 

Result of final vote

+:

–:

0:

20

0

0

Members present for the final vote

Inés Ayala Sender, Zigmantas Balčytis, Dennis de Jong, Martina Dlabajová, Jens Geier, Ingeborg Gräßle, Bernd Kölmel, Verónica Lope Fontagné, Fulvio Martusciello, Georgi Pirinski, Petri Sarvamaa, Claudia Schmidt, Igor Šoltes, Bart Staes, Marco Valli, Tomáš Zdechovský

Substitutes present for the final vote

Monika Hohlmeier, Karin Kadenbach, Julia Pitera, Patricija Šulin

(1)

http://ec.europa.eu/budget/explained/management/managt_who/who_en.cfm

(2)

OJ C 51 E, 22.2.2013, p. 87; http://ec.europa.eu/smart-regulation/impact/planned_ia/consultation_2014/index_en.htm


OPINION of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs (29.5.2015)

for the Committee on Legal Affairs

on Annual reports 2012-2013 on subsidiarity and proportionality

(2014/2252(INI))

Rapporteur: Helga Stevens

SUGGESTIONS

The Committee on Employment and Social Affairs calls on the Committee on Legal Affairs, as the committee responsible, to incorporate the following suggestions into its motion for a resolution:

1.  Takes the view that employment and social policies fall mostly within the area of Member States’ competence and that the EU has a remit to take measures to ensure the coordination of Member States’ employment policies, by defining guidelines and in particular by means of normative documents for the labour market; therefore encourages the Commission and the Member States to intensify discussions on the application of the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality in the field of this policy;

2.  Welcomes the closer participation and stronger involvement of national parliaments in the European legislative process in recent years, which has resulted in an increased awareness of the principles on which the EU is founded, including the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality in the interinstitutional context; notes, however, that further work still needs to be done in this context; suggests as a first step that the Commission engage in a yearly debate with each of the national parliaments in order to strengthen the dialogue between the Commission and the national parliaments;

3.  Recalls that according to Article 5 of the Treaty of Maastricht the European Union shall only act if and insofar as the objectives of the proposed action cannot be sufficiently achieved by the Member States;

4.  Underlines that all policy formulation should respect the principle of subsidiarity and ensure tangible European added value; stresses that cases of subsidiarity and proportionality must be thoroughly argued and should not be used to undermine social dialogue in the EU; stresses that in respecting the principle of subsidiarity it is key to consider the role of the social partners and to ensure their autonomy in accordance with Member States’ customs and traditions; believes in this regard that breaches of the principle of subsidiarity can lead to unintended consequences such as undermined faith in the European Union for citizens, and that such breaches should therefore be avoided;

5.  Notes the importance of parliaments and of their territorial impact and closeness to the citizens, and calls, where appropriate, for their greater involvement in the early warning system;

6.  Encourages national parliaments to issue reasoned opinions not only on Commission legislative documents but also on the non-legislative documents which precede the drafting of EU legislation, in order to more effectively influence future EU initiatives and legislation;

7.  Recalls that, in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity, the EU shall take action outside its areas of exclusive competence only and insofar as the objectives of a planned measure can better be achieved at Union level rather than at national, regional or local level; stresses that subsidiarity may, therefore, lead both to an extension of the activities of the Union within the framework of its powers when circumstances so require and, conversely, to the action concerned being restricted or curtailed where it is no longer justified; emphasises that subsidiarity, in this context, not only applies to the relationship between the EU and its Member States but also encompasses the regional and local levels;

8.  Points out that 2012 saw national parliaments show their first ‘yellow card’ in the context of the subsidiarity control mechanism, in response to the proposal for a regulation on the exercise of the right to take collective action within the context of the freedom of establishment and the freedom to provide services; notes, however, that according to the Commission the principle of subsidiarity had not been breached;

9.  Believes that the eventual withdrawal of this proposal by the Commission because of political opposition and, according to the Commission, not because of any breach of the principle of subsidiarity should encourage the various parties involved to engage in a new interinstitutional debate that is better geared to bringing about consensus on such transnational aspects of industrial relations as well as greater consideration for the principle of subsidiarity;

10.  Calls on the Commission to provide prior information on its choice of legal basis for legislative acts, as this will facilitate cooperation with national parliaments;

11.  Takes note of the fact that in 2013 national parliaments, for the second time ever, exercised the right to the ‘yellow card’ procedure in the context of the subsidiary control mechanism, which testifies to the increasing interest, role and added value of national parliaments in the development of EU law;

12.  Highlights that the ‘yellow card’ procedure, which is an instrument for influencing EU decision-making, could effectively be strengthened by an earlier exchange of information on positions of national parliaments, therefore encourages national parliaments to exchange views on the scope and evaluation methods applied in order to assess conformity with the subsidiarity and proportionality principles;

13.  Takes the view that the meaning of the subsidiarity and proportionality principles is not clear and that national parliaments therefore interpret it in different ways, which causes difficulties in reaching agreements and achieving compliance with their decisions; welcomes the fact that the Commission has established common criteria to assess compliance with the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality; encourages national parliaments and other institutions to use those criteria in order to increase compatibility assessment and the coordination and effectiveness of the subsidiarity control mechanism;

14.  Notes that the national parliaments came close to raising a ‘yellow card’ in the context of the proposal for a European Public Prosecutor’s Office; believes that in cases where the ‘yellow card’ procedure is supported by a number of national parliaments, the follow-up Commission communication should address all the objections of those parliaments;

15.  Points out that legislation can have a different impact on large enterprises and on SMEs, and believes this should be kept in mind during the drafting process; considers that the ‘Think Small First’ principle is not intended to exempt micro-enterprises and SMEs from the application of health and safety legislation, but could, rather, be a key element in the policy process and could play an important role in stimulating job creation and growth by reducing costs and red tape for businesses and focusing on smart regulation which can be implemented in a way that ensures a level playing field for SMEs and micro-enterprises; stresses that all employees have the right to the highest level of health and safety protection regardless of the size of the business, the underlying contract or the Member State of employment;

16.  Notes the increasing emphasis placed by the Commission on policy cycles and impact assessments; calls on the committee responsible to systematically review the Commission’s impact assessments and to review Parliament’s ex ante impact assessment analysis as early as possible in the legislative process, while always assessing compliance with the two principles; believes that, on the one hand, impact assessments should not be a substitute for political assessments and decisions, and that, on the other, every Commission proposal should have a tangible European added value; calls, therefore, for a more holistic approach to impact assessments, where applicable also covering the consequences of non-legislation.

RESULT OF FINAL VOTE IN COMMITTEE

Date adopted

28.5.2015

 

 

 

Result of final vote

+:

–:

0:

39

5

4

Members present for the final vote

Laura Agea, Guillaume Balas, Brando Benifei, David Casa, Ole Christensen, Agnes Jongerius, Jan Keller, Agnieszka Kozłowska-Rajewicz, Zdzisław Krasnodębski, Jean Lambert, Jérôme Lavrilleux, Patrick Le Hyaric, Jeroen Lenaers, Verónica Lope Fontagné, Javi López, Thomas Mann, Dominique Martin, Edouard Martin, Anthea McIntyre, Joëlle Mélin, Elisabeth Morin-Chartier, Emilian Pavel, Georgi Pirinski, Terry Reintke, Claude Rolin, Anne Sander, Sven Schulze, Siôn Simon, Jutta Steinruck, Yana Toom, Ulrike Trebesius, Marita Ulvskog, Tatjana Ždanoka, Jana Žitňanská

Substitutes present for the final vote

Amjad Bashir, Heinz K. Becker, Lynn Boylan, Mercedes Bresso, Deirdre Clune, Eduard Kukan, Evelyn Regner, Csaba Sógor

Substitutes under Rule 200(2) present for the final vote

Marco Affronte, Andor Deli, Norica Nicolai, Urmas Paet, Pavel Telička, Marco Zanni


OPINION of the Committee on Constitutional Affairs (7.5.2015)

for the Committee on Legal Affairs

on the annual reports 2012-2013 on subsidiarity and proportionality

(2014/2252(INI))

Rapporteur: Kazimierz Michał Ujazdowski

SUGGESTIONS

The Committee on Constitutional Affairs calls on the Committee on Legal Affairs, as the committee responsible, to incorporate the following suggestions into its motion for a resolution:

1.  Welcomes in this respect the fact that the Commission verifies ex ante if its proposals are necessary and if the objectives of the action envisaged cannot be sufficiently achieved by the Member States, and that it justifies its action in relation to the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality, in accordance with Article 5 of the Protocol on the application of the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality; strongly underlines the importance of impact assessments for ensuring compliance with these two principles in the preparation of legislative proposals; underlines equally that ensuring compliance with the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality should also be a priority for the Commission when it assesses existing EU policies;

2.  Recalls that subsidiarity is also protected by the fact that no European legislation can be adopted without the approval of a large majority of national ministries (accountable to national parliaments) in the Council;

3.  Notes that subsidiarity is, in practice, only an issue for a small minority of legislative proposals, as illustrated by the fact that the ‘orange card’ procedure has never been triggered and the ‘yellow card’ procedure has only been triggered twice in six years; considers that national parliaments are likely to be interested in the substance of proposals rather than only in subsidiarity and notes that many national parliaments are strengthening their procedures to enable them to influence the position adopted by the Minister in the Council;

4.  Notes that the principle of subsidiarity, as laid down in the Treaties, allows the Union, in areas which do not fall within its exclusive competence, to act only ‘if and in so far as the objectives of the proposed action cannot be sufficiently achieved by the Member States, either at central level or at regional and local level, but can rather, by reason of the scale or effects of the proposed action, be better achieved at Union level’; points out that subsidiarity, a neutral legal principle related to the concept of optimum level of action, can serve either, when the circumstances so require, to extend Union activities, albeit without its powers being exceeded, or, conversely, to restrict or halt Union action when it is no longer justified;

5.  Emphasises that the use of the European Union’s competences should be guided by the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality, as stated in Article 5 TEU; welcomes the fact that in 2012 and 2013 compliance with these two principles was carefully scrutinised by the EU institutions and by national parliaments;

6.  Appreciates the work of the Impact Assessment Board on the issues concerning the subsidiarity and proportionality of legal measures, and appeals for stronger cooperation with the Committee of the Regions and the AFCO Committee already at this level of the procedure on the two related issues;

7.  Calls for local and regional parliaments to be consulted on a regular basis and not just on one-off issues;

8.  Underlines the noteworthy growth in information exchanged by national parliaments through the IPEX system, and notes the increase in the number of reasoned opinions issued by national parliaments (+ 9 % in 2012, + 25 % in 2013); welcomes the closer involvement of national parliaments in the European legislative process, particularly as regards scrutinising legislative proposals in the light of the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality;

9.  Highlights that in both 2012 and 2013 national parliaments used the yellow card procedure in the context of the subsidiarity control mechanism; considers therefore that national parliaments improved their capacity to use the prerogatives they have in the subsidiarity control mechanism; strongly encourages national parliaments to further develop cooperation among themselves in order to make full use of the role they are given by the existing treaties;

10.  Is aware that many national parliaments wish to influence the substance of legislation rather than simply comment on the relatively few cases in which subsidiarity might be an issue; welcomes the contributions submitted to the Commission under the ‘Barroso initiative’; considers that the most effective way for national parliaments to exert such influence is by shaping the position taken by their countries’ ministers ahead of Council meetings and that the 8-week period can also be used for this purpose;

11.  Maintains that the European institutions have to enable the national parliaments to scrutinise legislative proposals and that the Commission should accordingly provide detailed and comprehensive statements of reasons for its decisions concerning subsidiarity and proportionality;

12.  Underlines its commitment to ensuring compliance with principles of subsidiarity and proportionality through assessments of its own legislative own-initiative reports, ex-ante appraisals of Commission impact assessments and the constant assessment of the potential EU added value and the ‘cost of non-Europe’;

13.  Notes, however, that a majority of opinions by national parliaments are submitted by only a few national chambers, and encourages the other chambers to become more involved in the European debate;

14.  Believes that a discussion on the extension of the period given to national parliaments to issue a reasoned opinion under Article 6 of the Protocol on the application of the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality could be fruitful with a view to identifying possible improvements to the current legislative framework; considers that meanwhile the period given to national parliaments to issue a reasoned opinion should be measured flexibly; recalls that any modification of this deadline would imply Treaty change; recommends therefore engaging in this reflection in due time in order to allow the question of the involvement of national parliaments to be discussed before the next modification of the Treaties; stresses that, in the debate around the extension of the current period given to national parliaments, the question of the role of regional parliaments could be considered, as well as the question of resources at the disposal of national parliaments; appeals also to the Commission to pronounce on the question of the national parliament ‘green card’ initiative;

15.  Believes that, given their experience, national parliaments could bring significant contributions to the European debate and decision-making process; encourages national parliaments, therefore, to make full use of the competences they were given by the existing treaties, including by further developing cooperation among themselves;

16.  Suggests that one new measure to consider might be a ‘green card’ procedure, whereby national parliaments would be able to set the European legislative process in motion and in that way play a constructive role in European law-making; is of the opinion that such a procedure could be established through a voluntary undertaking by the Commission and would not require amendment of the Treaties;

17.  Points out that 2012 saw the first use of the yellow card procedure by national parliaments regarding the principle of subsidiarity in response to the Commission’s proposal for a regulation on the exercise of the right to take collective action within the context of freedom of establishment and the freedom to provide services (Monti II); notes that, although the Commission concluded that the principle of subsidiarity had not been breached, it did withdraw the proposal owing to a lack of political support; remarks that a second yellow card procedure was triggered in 2013 on the Commission’s proposal for a Council regulation on the establishment of the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO); notes that the Commission concluded that the proposal complied with the principle of subsidiarity and decided to maintain it;

18.  Underlines the huge potential impact of EU-level decisions that the conclusion of international trade agreements such as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) may have on the capacity of regional and local self-government, including on decisions on services of general economic interest; calls on the Commission and on the Council to take full account of the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality when negotiating international trade agreements and to report to Parliament their potential effects on subsidiarity;

19.  Notes that reasoned opinions issued by national parliaments point out the existence of various interpretations of the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality; recalls in this context that the subsidiarity principle as formulated in the Treaties allows the Union to act in areas which do not fall within its exclusive competence only ‘if and in so far as the objectives of the proposed action cannot be sufficiently achieved by the Member States, either at central level or at regional and local level, but can rather, by reason of scale or effects of the proposed action, be better achieved at Union level’; recalls equally that ‘under the principle of proportionality, the content and form of Union action shall not exceed what is necessary to achieve the objective of the Treaties’; encourages national parliaments to be faithful to the letter of the TEU when assessing compliance with the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality; strongly recommends that national parliaments and European institutions engage in exchanges of views and practices of scrutinising subsidiarity and proportionality.

RESULT OF FINAL VOTE IN COMMITTEE

Date adopted

5.5.2015

 

 

 

Result of final vote

+:

–:

0:

22

0

0

Members present for the final vote

Mercedes Bresso, Fabio Massimo Castaldo, Kostas Chrysogonos, Richard Corbett, Esteban González Pons, Danuta Maria Hübner, Ramón Jáuregui Atondo, Jo Leinen, Morten Messerschmidt, Maite Pagazaurtundúa Ruiz, Paulo Rangel, György Schöpflin, Pedro Silva Pereira, Barbara Spinelli, Claudia Tapardel, Josep-Maria Terricabras, Kazimierz Michał Ujazdowski

Substitutes present for the final vote

Max Andersson, Sylvie Goulard, David McAllister, Cristian Dan Preda, Viviane Reding


RESULT OF FINAL VOTE IN COMMITTEE RESPONSIBLE

Date adopted

13.10.2015

 

 

 

Result of final vote

+:

–:

0:

13

7

3

Members present for the final vote

Max Andersson, Joëlle Bergeron, Marie-Christine Boutonnet, Kostas Chrysogonos, Therese Comodini Cachia, Mady Delvaux, Rosa Estaràs Ferragut, Laura Ferrara, Enrico Gasbarra, Lidia Joanna Geringer de Oedenberg, Mary Honeyball, Sajjad Karim, Dietmar Köster, Gilles Lebreton, António Marinho e Pinto, Julia Reda, Evelyn Regner, Pavel Svoboda, József Szájer, Axel Voss, Tadeusz Zwiefka

Substitutes present for the final vote

Stefano Maullu

Substitutes under Rule 200(2) present for the final vote

Andrew Lewer

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