Tuesday, 10 March 2009

European Parliament: Relations with Council and European Council

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


In this blog post we present the current and amending treaties before we embark upon the relations between the institutions in more detail.


We notice that the Treaty of Lisbon requires preparatory work in order to be implemented, should it enter into force.




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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. Having covered the first three paragraphs in some detail in preceding blog posts, we are going to turn our main attention to the fourth one, which concerns the relations with the EU Council:


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 replaced two of the three other paragraphs. Notice the wording of the new fourth paragraph (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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Consolidated Lisbon Treaty


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 OJEU 9.5.2008 C 115/151).

Because the first paragraph of Article 197 TEC had been formally deleted, but in practice moved to Article 14(4) of the Treaty on European Union (TEU), the replacement for the fourth paragraph of Article 197 TEC became the third paragraph of Article 230 TFUE, with the new wording:


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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Lisbon Treaty changes

The third paragraph of Article 230 TFEU makes the treaty level addition that the European Council is heard by the EP. This is a codification of existing practice, but it does not exclude further developments.

If the Lisbon Treaty enters into force, the European Council becomes an official institution and it needs its own Rules of Procedure, replacing the meagre Rules for the organisation of the proceedings of the European Council.

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We take note that the Lisbon Treaty requires a number of complementary rules and decisions, if it enters into force. Some of these are only technical, but necessary. Others are political in nature. All require preparatory work.

Two documents are crucial, either as instruments of change or in order to adapt to separate decisions:

The Rules of Procedure of the EU Council would have to be adapted to the amending treaty.

The European Council needs its own Rules of Procedure.

We are left wondering what the French Council Presidency did during the latter half of 2008 and what the Czech Council Presidency is doing during the first six months of 2009.


Ralf Grahn