Saturday, 12 December 2009

EU Council’s new Rules of Procedure

In a European Union, “in which decisions are taken as openly as possible and as closely as possible to the citizen”, the real issues at stake and the diplomatic negotiations between the capitals remain opaque and seriously under-reported by national media.

In anticipation of the Lisbon Treaty, and enshrined by it, the Council has opened its doors for public presentations of major policy initiatives and the beginning and the end of the legislative process, available through video on the Council’s audiovisual web page.

In addition, member states with more open traditions of government can do a lot to open up the Council, at least when they hold the presidency.

Despite my critique of the European Council’s near absence of tolerable standards of governance, with regard to openness, representative democracy and closeness to EU citizens, the ongoing Swedish EU Council presidency has generally set the benchmark for the coming trio: Spain, Belgium and Hungary. In my humble view, Sweden showed a more open attitude, produced better pre-meeting information and introduced a versatile use of new technological means, including social media interaction, than previous presidencies.

New Council Rules of Procedure

The Lisbon Treaty has required amendments, which have led to a new edition of the Council’s Rules of Procedure.

We humans seem to be highly susceptible to personality contests and the immediacy of great political controversies. Even in more serious literature, “boring” documents, such as the Rules of Procedure, tend to get scant notice, even if they form the basis for hundreds of decisions, conclusions and policy positions annually.

In other words, the new Rules of Procedure are among the most important pieces of secondary legislation in the European Union, at least for those who study or work with EU institutional law or EU politics.

One more step to implement the Lisbon Treaty: The Council’s new Rules of Procedure have now been officially published.

COUNCIL DECISION of 1 December 2009 adopting the Council's Rules of Procedure
(2009/937/EU), published OJEU 11.12.2009 L 325/35

The contents are divided into 28 Articles and six Annexes.

I suggest that readers assess the provisions against the principles of:

• openness
• representative democracy
• closeness to citizens

Ralf Grahn

P.S. Read, comment and discuss our future on the 494 euroblogs aggregated on multilingual, our common European “village well” for facts, opinion and gossip.