Tuesday

18th Feb 2020

Wanted: new rapporteurs for 'orphaned' EU bills

  • Esther Herranz Garcia had been an MEP since 2002, for the European People's Party. She failed to be re-elected and thus will not be able to continue her work reforming the common agricultural policy (Photo: European Parliament)

More than a dozen unfinished bills have been left 'orphaned' after the MEPs been responsible for them were not re-elected, an analysis by EUobserver revealed.

Esther Herranz Garcia (Spain, centre-right) is one of those MEPs who is not coming back.

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  • Reforming the EU's asylum system was 'completely within reach and fully possible, MEP Cecilia Wikstrom said back in 2017. But the deadlock among member states lasted longer than her mandate as MEP (Photo: European Parliament)

She had been handling a key legislative proposal that will reform the EU's common agricultural policy (CAP).

As rapporteur, Herranz Garcia had written the draft text of how parliament would want to amend the European Commission's proposal, which gives more power to national governments over how to implement the CAP.

Just before parliament went into campaign recess, the agriculture committee voted on the proposal.

However, there was not enough time before the elections to have it passed by the entire plenary.

The file will now need a new rapporteur, who will then be in charge of defending parliament's position in negotiations with the Council of the EU - which represents those national governments.

While a rapporteur is supposed to defend the text supported by a plenary majority, she or he has considerable freedom to determine the course of the negotiations.

The system of appointing rapporteurs allows individual MEPs to have a disproportionate amount of influence, becoming more than 'just one of 751' members.

Other 'orphaned' files because of failed re-elections or retirements include a proposal to reduce the spread of terrorist content online, a plan for a network of European cybersecurity research centres, and two bills that are aimed at improving judicial cooperation in the EU.

The design of a programme for the protection of the euro against counterfeiting and rules on how the new European Public Prosecutor's Office should cooperate with European Anti-Fraud Office are other examples of legislative proposals that need a new rapporteur.

An extreme case is that of Cecilia Wikstrom, a Swedish liberal MEP who had been waiting to start negotiations on a reform of the EU's asylum rules since November 2017.

At the time, she said that a reformed asylum system was "completely within reach and fully possible".

But while the parliament had been able to reach a common position, the file has been deadlocked in the council.

If the member states ever agree to a common position - which looks unlikely - someone else will have to negotiate in Wikstrom's place, since she was not standing for re-election.

In most cases, negotiations between the EU parliament and the council had not yet begun.

In at least one case, the council will have to continue the work with a different rapporteur.

Dutch liberal MEP Gerben-Jan Gerbrandy had started negotiating with member states about the EU's new Life programme for the environment and climate action for the 2021–2027 period.

There had been three rounds of political talks, and while progress has been made, more talks are needed to reach a compromise.

This will have to be done with a different MEP, since Gerbrandy decided not to stand again.

The new European Parliament will convene for the first time on 2 July, in Strasbourg.

MEPs will not only be able to try and become a rapporteur. Other vacancies include chair and vice-chair positions of committees and the posts of parliament president, vice-president, and quaestor - a position looking after the financial and administrative affairs of MEPs.

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