Sunday

24th Jun 2018

EU parliament 'has equal power' to member states

  • The vote on the next parliament president will take place next week (Photo: EUobserver)

The European Parliament is on a level power footing with member states in the EU's complex institutional triangle after years of being a mere afterthought for EU governments, its outgoing president has said.

Urging his successor to keep up the fight to "defend" parliament's interests, German conservative Hans-Gert Poettering on Wednesday (8 July) said: "We are very successful now as European Parliament to be as equal partners of the council."

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.

... our join as a group

He suggested that the parliament already has the upper hand over the commission, because it "only comes into office …once we have voted in favour."

This "institutional link" for controlling the council is missing Mr Poetterig said, but parliament should be "ambitious" to increase MEPs' powers towards member states.

Looking back to 30 years ago, when he was first elected, he noted that the assembly had "zero legislative competence" and now it is "responsible for 75 percent of legislation."

His words come as the parliament stands to gain even more law-making power if the EU's new institutional rules, the Lisbon Treaty, enters into force in the coming months.

In addition, the parliament has just thwarted member states' plans to secure a quick vote on the nomination of the next European Commission president, arguing that it should not be treated as a "rubber stamp" institution. The vote is now set to take place in September and not July.

The move builds on an important parliament victory in 2004 when it forced the withdrawal of Italy's commission candidate on the grounds that his personal views on social issues were unsuitable for the post which he was aiming for.

Since the 2004 move both the commission and the council are careful to pay public respect to the institution, and, unlike in previous years, no longer take it for granted or ignore it altogether.

Mr Poettering's remarks were directed at Jerzy Buzek, a centre-right Pole, who is likely to be voted in as his successor next week.

New broom

For his part, Mr Buzek, a former prime minister, said that "streamlining the way parliament works is urgent" pointing to tightening up the way committees (where most of the legislative work is done) function and following through on questions posed by MEPs.

He said there should be "as few first reading agreements as possible," noting that this does not allow enough "proper dialogue" on the issues.

Second reading agreements considerably prolong the length of time laws take to get through the Brussels system. Parliament has one reading on legislation that is not considered controversial or if it is under timetable pressure.

The Polish MEP, taking part in a presidential debate, also suggested that parliament should "meet with the European Commission president every month" so it can "influence" its work.

He also promised not to ignore the eurosceptics, who will have a stronger voice in this legislature. "Eurosceptics are very important to us because they pick up our failings," he noted.

Opinion

Europe's tech race - trying to keep pace with US and China

There is not a single European company among the world's top 10 computer hardware companies. Within the EU, Germany and Sweden rank among world leaders, but Bulgaria and Slovakia among the worst-performing developed nations.

Greece and creditors proclaim 'end of crisis'

After late-night talks, the Eurogroup agreed on a €15bn disbursement and debt relief measures for Greece, while setting out a tight monitoring when the bailout ends in August.

Greece and creditors proclaim 'end of crisis'

After late-night talks, the Eurogroup agreed on a €15bn disbursement and debt relief measures for Greece, while setting out a tight monitoring when the bailout ends in August.

News in Brief

  1. Venice Commission: Hungary should repeal NGO law
  2. Trump threatens to slap 20 percent tariff on EU cars
  3. EU closes deficit procedure against France
  4. Romania's ruling party leader gets jail sentence
  5. EU states defer individual decisions on asylum reforms
  6. Commission opens case on Qatar gas flow
  7. EU adopts posted workers directive
  8. EU leaders to call for 'coordinated plan' on AI

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  2. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMHRMI Launches Lawsuits Against Individuals and Countries Involved in Changing Macedonia's Name
  3. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  4. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  6. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  8. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  10. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  11. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network

Latest News

  1. Migration row at centre of EU summit This Week
  2. Merkel's woes cast shadow on EU's future
  3. Europe's tech race - trying to keep pace with US and China
  4. Merkel and Juncker's mini-summit risks fiasco
  5. Greece and creditors proclaim 'end of crisis'
  6. How a US firm pushed for EU €2.1trn pension fund
  7. Commission defends Africa migrant plan ahead of summit
  8. Bavaria hijacks EU migration talks

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us