17th Jun 2019

EU commission booed over choice of axed laws

It was supposed to be a "cleaning-the-desk" exercise.

Draft laws that are obsolete or watered down beyond recognition will be binned, while only laws that are “really necessary” will be put forward – resulting in 23 proposals for the coming year with the priority being the creation of an investment fund meant to attract €315bn worth of private and public money across Europe.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

But when EU commission president Jean-Claude Juncker and Frans Timmermans - the vice-president in charge of "better regulation" - took the floor on Tuesday (16 December) in Strasbourg, several MEPs booed them and shouted "shame."

At the core of Liberal, Green and leftist anger is that among the 80 draft laws to be binned, there are some key proposals - notably on air pollution, recycling and nuclear materials.

Timmermans said the EU commission "is not compromising on environmental goals," but will come up with bolder proposals that at likely to get the approval of member states and the European Parliament.

He also noted that the 2015 working programme is a proposal and that laws will be scrapped only if MEPs agree.

The 'grand coalition' of Socialist and centre-right MEPs who dominate the European Parliament endorsed the plan.

But the minority critics were more vocal.

Dutch Liberal MEP Sophie in't Veld asked how the EU commission can still claim it is committed to transparency when it gives up on pushing for an agreement on making access to documents easier.

"Liberals strongly oppose the withdrawal of legislative proposals just because member states don't take responsibility and block them," she said.

"If that were the rule, many good laws, making the lives of EU citizens better, would not have existed today. There would not be binding rules for discipline in the eurozone, no European patents, no means to tackle plastics pollution and no common asylum rules," in't Veld added.

Belgian Green MEP Philippe Lamberts also criticised the trimmed-down working programme as "axing crucial social, environmental and health legislation".

Bernadette Segol, who heads the EU umbrella organisation for trade unions (Etuc), noted that among the 23 planned bills for 2015 "there is not a single proposal to improve worker, consumer or environmental protection".

"This does not seem the best way to restore public confidence in Europe. It is a business agenda, with no sign of Juncker’s commitment to the social market economy: it is all market and no social,” Segol said.

Alter-EU, a pro-transparency coalition of NGOs, said the Juncker commission "broke its promise" to create a mandatory lobby register.

Instead, the proposal to introduce a register based on an agreement among EU institutions "is misleading because such an agreement will not be binding on lobbyists".

While still defending the selection of bills, Timmermans conceded that "better regulation, is often set out as a principle but in practical terms it is difficult to put in practice, as I discovered in the last few weeks".

For his part, Juncker highlighted the focus on fair taxation - with new draft bills in the offing, including on making national tax deals with big corporations more transparent.

Juncker is trying to shake off his image as a deal-fixer for hundreds of multinational companies when he was prime minister of Luxembourg. The resulting set-ups meant some companies paid less than one percent profits on their taxes.

He said he was fully committed to fighting tax evasion and fraud and to bringing about EU-wide rules that will close the loopholes allowing companies to dodge taxes - Luxembourg being only one of the around two dozen EU states who offer such deals.

New 'ID' far-right EU parliament group falls short

The new far-right Identity and Democracy (ID) political group fails to muster enough support among other eurosceptics to become a heavyweight in the European Parliament. But with 73 MEPs, from nine EU states, it managed to secure the fifth spot.

Malta's ex-commissioner loses court case against EU

John Dalli was ousted as European Commissioner for health in 2012 over a tobacco-lobbying scandal. On Thursday, the general court of the European Union dismissed his case against the European Commission.


Sibiu: EU leaders prepare post-Brexit show of unity

With the European elections just three weeks away, the EU-27 will try to set the agenda for the next years for the EU institutions. But with persisting divisions on key issues, unity will be an achievement in itself.

News in Brief

  1. Swiss stock exchange could lose EU access in July
  2. Austria's Strache will not take up EU parliament seat
  3. Tanker attacks pose questions for EU on Iran deal
  4. Johnson skips TV debate for UK prime ministership
  5. Slovakia's first female president takes office
  6. Irish immigration officers flew back business class
  7. Catalan MEP denied taking seat in European Parliament
  8. EU plans to restructure eurozone bonds


The changing of the guards in the EU in 2019

The four most powerful EU institutions - Commission, Parliament, Council and Central Bank will all have new leaders in the coming ten months. Here is an overview.


Explained: What is the European Parliament?

While domestic political parties often use the European Parliament as a dumping ground for unwanted politicians - and a majority of citizens don't bother to vote - the parliament, over the years, has become a dominant force in the EU.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  3. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  5. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  6. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  7. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  8. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  9. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody

Latest News

  1. Spain's Garcia set to be next Socialist leader in parliament
  2. Erdogan mocks Macron amid EU sanctions threat
  3. The most dangerous pesticide you've never heard of
  4. 'Russian sources' targeted EU elections with disinformation
  5. Top EU jobs summit dominates This WEEK
  6. EP parties planning 'coalition agenda' ahead of jobs summit
  7. MEP blasts Portugal over football whistleblower
  8. Catalonia MEPs are a judicial, not political, issue

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  2. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  4. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  5. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  10. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  11. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  12. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us