No secrets here - the Express gets EU law making wrong yet again.
A recent article entitled “What DON’T they want you to know? Eurocrats now making record number of EU laws in SECRET” makes a rather bold claim that “typically bills passed at the first reading by the parliament are automatically ratified by the Council without a debate”. The article states that an increasing number of bills now get passed at first reading.
Let’s have a closer look at these claims:
- Yes, an increasing number of bills is now passed at the first reading stage.
- No, this does not mean that the process is a secret.
First reading agreements - much like second and third reading ones - require considerable debate in both the European Parliament and the Council. For the European Parliament, this includes debates in the plenary chamber as well as debates in committee meetings. All of these are streamed live and all the documents (including originals, as well as amendments and of course final texts) are available online.
Trilogues are a chance for all three institutions of the European Union - the European Commission (which proposes the legislation), the European Parliament (democratically elected MEPs who amend the proposals and get a chance to vote it) and the Council (the representatives of EU’s member state governments, who also table amendments) - to reach an agreement on a piece of legislation quicker. The negotiators on both European Parliament’s and the Council sides report back to their respective institutions regularly. For the European Parliament these discussions will take place at committee meetings and will be streamed live on our website. The elected politicians, in this case MEPs, are involved in the whole process.
The final text of the bill is a result of numerous deliberations between MEPs and Council representatives (including ministers), who act on behalf of the Member States and their elected governments.
It may sound a bit complex but we assure you - there is nothing secretive about EU law making.
Recent changes to the trilogue process now require that for these negotiations to begin, the full house of the European Parliament needs to approve the mandate of the European Parliament negotiators.