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Procedure : 2012/2034(INI)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected : A7-0336/2013

Texts tabled :

A7-0336/2013

Debates :

PV 11/12/2013 - 9
CRE 11/12/2013 - 9

Votes :

PV 12/12/2013 - 12.21

Texts adopted :

P7_TA(2013)0599

Texts adopted
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Thursday, 12 December 2013 - Strasbourg Final edition
Relations between the European Parliament and the institutions representing the national governments
P7_TA(2013)0599A7-0336/2013

European Parliament resolution of 12 December 2013 on relations between the European Parliament and the institutions representing the national governments (2012/2034(INI))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to Articles 15 and 16 of the Treaty on European Union and Article 235 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

–  having regard to the European Council conclusions of 25 and 26 March 2010, 17 June 2010, 16 September 2010, 28 and 29 October 2010, 16 and 17 December 2010, 4 February 2011, 24 and 25 March 2011, 23 and 24 June 2011, 23 October 2011, 9 December 2011, 1 and 2 March 2012, 28 and 29 June 2012, 18 and 19 October 2012, 13 and 14 December 2012, 7 and 8 February 2013, 14 and 15 March 2013 and 27 and 28 June 2013,

–  having regard to the declarations by the Heads of State or Government of the European Union following the informal meetings of the members of the European Council of 26 October 2011 and 30 January 2012,

–  having regard to its resolution of 7 May 2009 on the impact of the Treaty of Lisbon on the development of the institutional balance of the European Union(1) ,

–  having regard to its resolution of 4 July 2013 on improving the practical arrangements for the holding of the European elections in 2014(2) ,

–  having regard to Rules 48, 110 and 127 of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Constitutional Affairs (A7-0336/2013 ),

A.  whereas the Treaty of Lisbon gave the European Council the status of a European institution, without changing its role, since Article 15(1) of the Treaty on European Union states: ‘The European Council shall provide the Union with the necessary impetus for its development and shall define the general political directions and priorities thereof. It shall not exercise legislative functions’;

B.  whereas Parliament is fully aware of the independence of the European Council and of the important role conferred upon it by the treaties;

C.  whereas, however, under the pressure of the crisis, the European Council has considerably aggrandised its role, increasing the number of extraordinary meetings and raising to European Council level matters normally dealt with at Council of Ministers level; whereas in this respect the European Council has gone beyond the crucial Treaty injunction that it has no legislative functions;

D.  whereas the temptation for the heads of state or government to resort to intergovernmental expedients jeopardises the ‘Community method’, in breach of the Treaties;

E.  whereas to strengthen the democratic nature of the decision-making process proper parliamentary scrutiny arrangements shall be implemented;

F.  whereas under the Treaty of Lisbon members of the European Council are accountable individually to their own national parliaments but accountable collectively only to themselves;

G.  whereas the President of the European Council has been given an initiating role, most often exercised in liaison with his counterparts in other institutions, thereby de facto becoming the chief negotiator on behalf of the Member States on matters which, since the adoption of the Treaty of Lisbon, fall under co-decision;

H.  whereas, in agreement with Parliament’s authorities, and in particular through exchanges of letters, President Van Rompuy has sought to take account of information and transparency requirements as far as possible: he has personally met Parliament’s committee chairs, rapporteurs and sherpas to discuss a number of important topics; he has replied to written questions; he has provided regular reports on European Council meetings, either to the plenary or to the enlarged Conference of Presidents, and has had numerous contacts with group chairs;

I.  whereas this practice is worth formalising so that it can serve as a precedent for the future, and whereas it should also be improved; whereas, on the European patent system, the European Council called into question a legislative agreement concluded between Parliament and the Council; whereas, on economic governance, the European Council saw fit to renegotiate provisions identical to those which a previous regulation had already made applicable; whereas, on an EU banking supervisory authority, the European Council adopted two contradictory positions one year apart, which it could have avoided by taking greater account of Parliament’s position; whereas negotiations on the 2014-2020 multiannual financial framework saw the legislative process held to ransom as the legally required unanimity in the Council could only be achieved by pre-empting certain major policy choices in the regulations on the policies to be financed, which, in these areas, reduces Parliament’s role to one of merely amending secondary provisions;

J.  whereas in all these cases, by definition the most important, the absence of formalised dialogue between Parliament and the European Council has prevented Parliament from fully playing its role as co-legislator, as laid down in the treaties; whereas the official interlocutors of Parliament’s representatives have often not had the power to properly engage governments; whereas, although they remain theoretically responsible for preparing meetings of the European Council, it is increasingly apparent that the President-in-Office of the Council and the General Affairs Council(3) play no more than a marginal or technical role; whereas the traditional introductory remarks by the President of the European Parliament at the opening of the meetings of the European Council are an insufficient procedure;

K.  whereas the European Parliament cannot summon the President of the European Council for a debate before meetings of the European Council; whereas Parliament does not organise itself well for the debates in which the President reports back after meetings of the European Council;

L.  whereas, however, it is welcome that several heads of government of EU Member States are seeking the tribune of Parliament for debates on the future of Europe;

M.  whereas the operation of the Council of Ministers is a cause for serious concern, and that neither the European Council nor the rotating presidency seems able to bring to its work desirable standards of pace, strategy, consistency, coherence or transparency; whereas such deficiencies in the second chamber of the legislature impair the law-making of the European Union;

N.  whereas Article 17(7) of the Treaty on European Union will apply for the first time after the forthcoming European elections; whereas this key provision is intended to enable the President of the Commission to be elected by citizens through the election of their Members of Parliament, as is consistent with a parliamentary system; whereas this outcome can be achieved only if European political parties, Parliament and the European Council act in keeping with this spirit, in line with their respective responsibilities, notably in the context of consultations with a view to implementing Declaration 11 annexed to the Lisbon Treaty;

1.  Believes that, in the light of the experience gained over these four years, there is a need to improve and formalise the working relations between the European Council and Parliament; considers that this could take the form of either a joint statement or an inter-institutional agreement or an exchange of letters;

2.  Is of the opinion that, other than in cases of exceptional urgency, any meeting of the European Council should be preceded by a debate in Parliament, allowing the adoption of a resolution, with the President of the European Council coming to present the subjects on the agenda in person; believes that Parliament and the European Council should organise their respective work so as to give to Parliament the opportunity to make known its opinion on these subjects in good time, and to allow the President of the European Council to report back after each meeting of the European Council in front of the plenary sitting; stresses that, as far as it is possible, European Council meetings should not take place during the plenary session weeks of Parliament;

3.  Points out that the conclusions of the European Council are negotiating instructions for the Council of Ministers, and that in no case do they constitute red lines which cannot be negotiated with Parliament; calls for a standard formula recalling the provisions of Article 15(1) of the Treaty on European Union to be included in the conclusions of the European Council;

4.  Urges the European Council, where an agreement is concluded between the representatives of Parliament and of the Council in the context of a legislative procedure, not to raise the matter again unless the Presidency-in-Office has specified that the agreement is ad referendum;

5.  Proposes that the President of the European Council and the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy be invited together with the President of the Commission to take part once a year in a general debate on the internal and external situation of the Union, without overlapping on the existing annual state of the Union debate during which the President of the Commission presents his work programme and reports on his action to the Parliament he is responsible to;

6.  Points out that, unlike the President of the Commission, the President of the European Council is not accountable to Parliament, and that the organisation of debates in which he takes part should take this into account, while allowing Members other than the group chairs to talk to the President of the European Council; considers, however, that the written questions procedure does not seem appropriate;

7.  Calls for Parliament’s timely involvement whenever the European Council initiates an action plan or a procedure likely to include a legislative dimension to be decided in cooperation with Parliament in a form appropriate to each case; insists that the President of the Parliament should participate fully in European Council meetings when inter-institutional questions are addressed – Parliament and the European Council would consequently adapt their internal rules to specify the choice of their respective representatives and the way in which they obtain a negotiating mandate and report on the negotiations;

8.  Calls on the European Council to state clearly, before the start of the European election campaign, how it intends, for its part, to respect the choice of European citizens in the procedure leading to the election of the President of the Commission, in accordance with Article 17(7) of the Treaty on European Union, in the context of the consultations to be held between Parliament and the European Council with a view to implementing Declaration 11 annexed to the Lisbon Treaty; stresses the importance of enhancing the visibility and European nature of the election campaign; calls on all members of the European Council to announce in advance how they intend to respect the vote of their fellow citizens when proposing one or more candidates for the post of Commissioner from their country;

9.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the European Council, the Council, the Commission and the Heads of State and Government and the parliaments of the Member States.

(1) OJ C 212 E, 5.8.2010, p. 82.
(2) Texts Adopted, P7_TA(2013)0323.
(3) See Article 16 of the Treaty on European Union.

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