EP leaders engage in a reform for a more modern and efficient Parliament 

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Parliament’s Conference of Presidents adopted a comprehensive package of measures to modernise Parliament and reinforce its capacity to act.

The European Parliament has initiated the next phase of a reform process to strengthen Parliament’s internal working methods as well as its institutional role and capacity to act to ensure that it is and remains well-equipped to fulfil its tasks under the Treaties and to live up to the expectations of EU citizens.

In January 2023, Parliament’s Conference of Presidents (CoP) agreed on the need for internal reforms. It adopted a proposal made by President Roberta Metsola and established a Working Group on Parliamentary Reform composed of representatives of all political groups.

Throughout the year, the Working Group examined proposals on how procedures could be improved to make Parliament more efficient. In line with the mandate established by EP group leaders, it looked into possible improvements in the areas of legislation, scrutiny, budgetary functions and budgetary control. The group also examined elements to reform plenary sessions and Parliament’s approach to external relations.

As a result of this inclusive deliberative process, EP group leaders adopted a comprehensive and coherent package of concrete and actionable reform proposals. These reforms will be finetuned during the implementation phase, which starts immediately.

These reforms, once implemented, will lead to a better functioning of Parliament as co-legislator, as arm of the budgetary authority and as discharge authority. They will also increase Parliament's capacity to exercise democratic oversight.

Commenting on the reforms, President Metsola said: “Since my election, I have made modernisation of the European Parliament one of my main goals. We have worked hard on these measures that will make this House more efficient. Once implemented, these reforms will allow the European Parliament to be on a much stronger footing starting from the next mandate.”


The objective is to implement the reforms before the European Elections 2024 so that they will support the newly elected Parliament from the outset. Some measures require translation into the Rules of Procedure (RoP), which would need to be finalised in view of an adoption in plenary before the end of the parliamentary term.

What does it entail?

For the legislative process, a better cooperation among Parliament’s committees will facilitate the handling of legislative files. Modalities for committee cooperation will be simplified with one single form of contribution. A simplified joint committee procedure (currently Rule 58) will allow joint work by up to three committees. The referral procedure will be simplified with conflicts of competence to be solved much faster and before the announcement of the proposal in plenary. The Conference of Committee Chairs will be tasked to streamline committee working methods and harmonise practises to the extent possible. Moreover, the urgent procedure (Rule 163) is to be reviewed in the light of the new reality of the EU having become a crisis manager. This is to ensure a swift handling of files while still benefiting from committee expertise and without compromising on democratic scrutiny.

On EP’s scrutiny role, a new hearing format of “special scrutiny hearings” will allow Parliament to address in a timely and thorough manner issues of major political importance. The Commissioners’ hearing process will be simplified and more flexibility introduced.

On budget and discharge, the cooperation between committees will be improved by a more holistic approach on budgets, discharge and legislation to fully exploit the combined institutional power of Parliament in budgetary and legislative matters. The work of the sectorial committees will be better integrated and mutually reinforced with the horizontal aspects of the work of the Committees on Budgets and on Budgetary Control. More resources will be committed to the oversight of the implementation of the EU budget.

On plenary, the intention is, inter alia, to offer more opportunities to Members to react to each other. Furthermore, for key legislative files, plenary debates or statements should be scheduled throughout the legislative process, e.g. right after a Commission proposal is put forward. Moreover, a new format of debate (“Parliament statement”) to be wound up with a resolution would allow Parliament to express its position and define priorities not only as a reaction to introductory remarks by Council or Commission, thereby underlining Parliament’s role in agenda setting. Question time could be done with the entire College of Commissioners or several Commission Vice-Presidents to cover broad areas.

Regarding external relations, Parliament will shift from a parliamentary-body-based approach towards a country-based approach. Cooperation between delegations and committees will be reinforced with the aim of reaching an ever more effective parliamentary diplomacy. For example, missions will become more agenda-based while systematically drawing from a combination of Members from committees and delegations.

Regarding the powers and responsibilities of standing committees and the list of standing delegations, any potential change is to be discussed among the political groups and possibly referred to the Conference of Presidents for decision at a later stage.