Friday, 13 March 2009

European Parliament: Rules of Procedure

Within the treaty framework, the European Parliament adopts and amends its Rules of Procedure, without binding the other institutions or third parties.

The Rules of Procedure regulate the main part of decision-making and procedures within the European Parliament.

Clearer references to the version in force and amendments, as well as when they enter into force and possibly lapse, could be recommended with a view to making life easier for researchers and students of EU law and politics, if no such needs are felt within the EP.





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Current treaty

Article 199 of the Treaty establishing the European Community (TEC), as published in the consolidated version of the treaties in force in the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU) 29.12.2006 C 321 E/135, concerns two aspects of the European Parliament:

1) adopting the Rules of Procedure, and
2) publishing the proceedings.


Article 199 TEC

The European Parliament shall adopt its Rules of Procedure, acting by a majority of its Members.

The proceedings of the European Parliament shall be published in the manner laid down in its Rules of Procedure.


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Original Lisbon Treaty

Article 2, point 187 of the original Treaty of Lisbon amended the second paragraph of Article 197 TEC (OJEU 17.12.2007 C 306/103):


187) In the second paragraph of Article 199, the words ‘manner laid down in its Rules of Procedure’ shall be replaced by ‘manner laid down in the Treaties and in its Rules of Procedure’.


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Consolidated Lisbon Treaty

In the consolidated (readable) Treaty of Lisbon the slightly amended provision became Article 232 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), published OJEU 9.5.2008 C 115/152:


Article 232 TFEU
(ex Article 199 TEC)

The European Parliament shall adopt its Rules of Procedure, acting by a majority of its Members.

The proceedings of the European Parliament shall be published in the manner laid down in the Treaties and in its Rules of Procedure.


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Autonomy and Rules of Procedure

The adoption of the Rules of Procedure is based on the internal autonomy of the European Parliament, but naturally only within the limits set by the treaties. The Rules of Procedure can only express the EP’s views with regard to interinstitutional relations, but they are not legally binding on the other institutions. (The institutions can bind themselves politically and legally by so called interinstitutional agreements.)


The decision requires a majority of the EP’s members, which is higher than the ordinary rule of a majority of the votes cast (Article 198 TEC; 231 TFEU).


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Rules of Procedure in force


The Rules of Procedure of the European Parliament, 16th edition, have been published in the OJEU 15.2.2005 L 44/1.

The following amendments have been published in the Official Journal:

OJEU 16.12.2006 C 308 E/88-90 Rules 3 and 4

OJEU 23.12.2006 C 317 E/747-748 Rule 81

OJEU 23.12.2006 C 317 E/749 Rules 15 and 182(1), transitional amendments

OJEU 22.12.2006 C 316 E/115-116 Rule 139, transitional amendment


I found no newer consolidated version through Eur-Lex or the Official Journal than the 16th edition mentioned above.


The latest version found through the European Parliament’s web pages is also described as the 16th edition, but dated October 2008:

http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?pubRef=-//EP//NONSGML+RULES-EP+20081022+0+DOC+PDF+V0//EN&language=EN


Supposedly, this is the version in force, but the amendments are not necessarily clearly indicated.


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Amending the EP’s Rules of Procedure


Adopting the Rules of Procedures is not mentioned, since they already exist, but amendments are regulated by Rule 202


Rule 202 Amendment of the Rules of Procedure

1. Any Member may propose amendments to these Rules and to the annexes thereto accompanied, if appropriate, by short justifications.

Such proposed amendments shall be translated, printed, distributed and referred to the committee responsible, which shall examine them and decide whether to submit them to Parliament.

For the purpose of applying Rules 150, 151 and 155 to consideration of such proposed amendments in Parliament, references made in those Rules to the 'original text' or the 'Commission proposal' shall be considered as referring to the provision in force at the time.

2. Amendments to these Rules shall be adopted only if they secure the votes of a majority of the component Members of Parliament.

3. Unless otherwise specified when the vote is taken, amendments to these Rules and to the annexes thereto shall enter into force on the first day of the partsession following their adoption.


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Applying the Rules of Procedure

Rule 201 lays down the formal rules for application and interpretation of the Rules of Procedure if doubts arise. In most organisations advice is sought and given on an informal basis, so formal procedures are more the exception than the norm:


Rule 201 Application of the Rules of Procedure

1. Should doubt arise over the application or interpretation of these Rules of Procedure, the President may refer the matter to the committee responsible for examination.

Committee chairs may do so where such a doubt arises in the course of the committee's work and is related to it.

2. The committee shall decide whether it is necessary to propose an amendment to the Rules of Procedure. In this case it shall proceed in accordance with Rule 202.

3. Should the committee decide that an interpretation of the existing Rules is sufficient, it shall forward its interpretation to the President who shall inform Parliament at its next part-session.

4. Should a political group or at least forty Members contest the committee's interpretation, the matter shall be put to the vote in Parliament. Adoption of the text shall be by a majority of the votes cast provided that at least one-third of Parliament's component Members are present. In the event of rejection, the matter shall be referred back to the committee.

5. Uncontested interpretations and interpretations adopted by Parliament shall be appended in italic print as explanatory notes to the appropriate Rule or Rules.

6. Interpretations shall constitute precedents for the future application and interpretation of the Rules concerned.

7. The Rules of Procedure and interpretations shall be reviewed regularly by the committee responsible.

8. Where these Rules confer rights on a specific number of Members, that number shall be automatically adjusted to the nearest whole number representing the same percentage of Parliament's membership whenever the total size of Parliament is increased, notably following enlargements of the European Union.


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Committee responsible

According to Annex VI.XVIII, point 8, the Committee on Constitutional Affairs is responsible for the interpretation and application of the Rules of Procedure and proposals for amendments thereto.


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Interinstitutional agreements

According to Rule 120 interinstitutional agreements may be annexed to the Rules of Procedure, and they may lead to modifications of these rules.


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Points of order

Rule 166 concerns points of order, when a member alleges failure to respect the Parliament’s Rules of Procedure.


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Possible improvements

For instance when amending the Rules of Procedure, clearer references could be made to the version in force and later amendments, as well as when they enter into force and possibly lapse, with a view to making life easier for researchers and students of EU law and politics, if no such needs are felt within the European Parliament.



Ralf Grahn