Sunday, 15 March 2009

European Parliament: Annual General Report

The Commission’s Annual General Report is clearly set out at treaty level: both the obligation to publish for the Commission and the task to discuss for the European Parliament.

But looking for the European Parliament’s follow-up makes me wonder if my search techniques are sub-standard or if the EP does not care about its obligation.

Regardless, for others the Annual General Report is a valuable tool.


Current treaty
European Parliament

The European Parliament has an obligation to discuss the Annual General Report according to Article 200 of the Treaty establishing the European Community (TEC) concerns EP scrutiny (OJEU OJEU 29.12.2006 C 321 E/135):

Article 200 TEC

The European Parliament shall discuss in open session the annual general report submitted to it by the Commission.


Lisbon Treaty

The corresponding provision in the consolidated Treaty of Lisbon is Article 233 TFEU (OJEU OJEU 9.5.2008 C 115/152).


Obligation of the Commission

The Commission is required to publish a number of (annual) reports, among which the General Report is the centerpiece, based on Article 212 of the Treaty establishing the European Community (TEC); in the consolidated version of the treaties, OJEU 29.12.2006 C 321 E/139:

Article 212 TEC

The Commission shall publish annually, not later than one month before the opening of the session of the European Parliament, a general report on the activities of the Community.


Lisbon Treaty

In the consolidated Treaty of Lisbon the corresponding provision on the obligation for the Commission to publish is Article 249(2) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), published OJEU 9.5.2008 C 115/157.


EP discussing the Annual General Report

EP Rules of Procedure

The main rules on procedures within the European Parliament are found in the Rules of Procedure (16th edition, October 2008).

Rule 112(1) would seem to require a committee report to the plenary, if we understand the mandatory discussion would lead to an opinion by the Parliament:


Rule 112 Annual reports and other reports of other institutions

1. Annual reports and other reports of other institutions, in respect of which the Treaties provide for consultation of the European Parliament or where other legal provisions require an opinion by the European Parliament, shall be dealt with by means of a report submitted to the plenary.

2. Annual reports and other reports of other institutions not falling within the scope of paragraph 1 shall be referred to the appropriate committee which may propose drawing up a report pursuant to Rule 45.


EP practice

I failed to find any follow-up on the European Parliament’s web pages of the Annual General Report for 2007, published in 2008 as Commission document SEC(2007) 1000 final.

According to literature, the European Parliament has combined the forward looking debate on the Commission’s legislative and work programme for the following year with the (boring?) discussion on the Annual General Report, but I failed to find the Annual General Report even formally mentioned in the European Parliament resolution P6_TA(2007)0613of 12 December 2007 on the Commission legislative and work programme for 2008.

If this result is correct, it goes beyond what I consider to be a correct application of the treaty, but I am more than happy if someone is willing to make the relevant references known.
(Cf. Rule 33.)


General Report 2008

On 4 March 2009 the Commission published the General Report on the Activities of the European Union in 2008, SEC(2008) 1000 final. .

On the about 260 pages the Commission describes the main developments during 2008 under seven Chapter headings:

General political and economic framework
Security and freedom
Europe in the world
Life of the institutions, other bodies and agencies
Budget and financial activities

The General Report is available at:


Useful resource

Perhaps the political groups and the MEPs find the Annual General Report uninteresting and even boring, but for journalists, researchers, teachers, lobbyists and students it is a valuable resource.

Published in 22 languages, the General Report is a useful tool to get an overview of developments within each policy area of the European Union. The references to sources are helpful in the search for documents.

The General Report is complemented by the monthly Bulletin (provisional and final).

Ralf Grahn