Saturday, 21 February 2009

European Parliament: Internal organisation and relations between the institutions

Both the existing treaties and the EU Treaty of Lisbon contain basic provisions on the internal organisation of the European Parliament and on the EP’s relations with the other institutions: the Commission and the Council.

In this blog post we present the treaty changes, but ahead of the European elections in June 2009 we will then continue by taking a closer look at the detailed provisions in a number of posts.


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Current treaty

Article 197 of the Treaty establishing the European Community (TEC) contains bare bones provisions on two areas concerning the European Parliament:

a) internal organisation, and
b) relations with the Commission and the Council.

The text of Article 197 TEC is from the latest consolidated version of the treaties, published in the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU) 29.12.2006 C 321 E/134:


Article 197 TEC

The European Parliament shall elect its President and its officers from among its Members.

Members of the Commission may attend all meetings and shall, at their request, be heard on behalf of the Commission.

The Commission shall reply orally or in writing to questions put to it by the European Parliament or by its Members.

The Council shall be heard by the European Parliament in accordance with the conditions laid down by the Council in its Rules of Procedure.


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Original Lisbon Treaty (ToL)

Article 2, point 185 of the original Treaty of Lisbon formally deleted the first paragraph of Article 197 TEC on the internal organisation of the European Parliament and amended two of the three other paragraphs (OJEU 17.12.2007 C 306/102):


185) Article 197 shall be amended as follows:

(a) the first paragraph shall be deleted;

(b) the second paragraph shall be replaced by the following:

‘The Commission may attend all the meetings and shall, at its request, be heard.’;

(c) the fourth paragraph shall be replaced by the following:

‘The European Council and the Council shall be heard by the European Parliament in accordance with the conditions laid down in the Rules of Procedure of the European Council and those of the Council.’.


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I used the words formally deleted with regard to the first paragraph of Article 197 TEC, because if we look at Article 9a(4) of the Treaty on European Union (TEU) we find the following text (OJEU page 17):


4. The European Parliament shall elect its President and its officers from among its members.’.


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Consolidated Lisbon Treaty

This means that we have two strands to follow in the consolidated Treaty of Lisbon (OJEU 9.5.2008 C 115).

The main provisions on the institutions are located in Title III of the Treaty on European Union (TEU) and Article 9a TEU (ToL) has been renumbered Article 14 TEU in the consolidated version (OJEU page 22 to 23). The whole Article is presented here as background, although the fourth paragraph will be our point of departure:


Article 14 TEU

1. The European Parliament shall, jointly with the Council, exercise legislative and budgetary functions. It shall exercise functions of political control and consultation as laid down in the Treaties. It shall elect the President of the Commission.

2. The European Parliament shall be composed of representatives of the Union's citizens. They shall not exceed seven hundred and fifty in number, plus the President. Representation of citizens shall be degressively proportional, with a minimum threshold of six members per Member State. No Member State shall be allocated more than ninety-six seats.

The European Council shall adopt by unanimity, on the initiative of the European Parliament and with its consent, a decision establishing the composition of the European Parliament, respecting the principles referred to in the first subparagraph.

3. The members of the European Parliament shall be elected for a term of five years by direct universal suffrage in a free and secret ballot.

4. The European Parliament shall elect its President and its officers from among its members.


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The European Parliament’s relations with the Commission and the Council remained in slightly amended form in Article 197 (ToL), which was renumbered Article 230 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) in the consolidated Lisbon Treaty (OJEU page 151):


Article 230 TFEU
(ex Article 197, second, third and fourth paragraph, TEC)

The Commission may attend all the meetings and shall, at its request, be heard.

The Commission shall reply orally or in writing to questions put to it by the European Parliament or by its Members.

The European Council and the Council shall be heard by the European Parliament in accordance with the conditions laid down in the Rules of Procedure of the European Council and those of the Council.


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After this general presentation of the changes brought about by the Lisbon Treaty we are going to dedicate a few blog posts to the internal organisation of the European Parliament before we turn to the inter-institutional relations.


Ralf Grahn