Monday, 7 December 2009

European Council’s Rules of Procedure (Contents: Articles 4 to 8)

We continue our presentation of the main points of the novel Rules of Procedure of the European Council.

EUROPEAN COUNCIL DECISION of 1 December 2009 adopting its Rules of Procedure (2009/882/EU) was published in the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU 2.12.2009 L 315/51).

Main points

Article 4 Composition of the European Council, delegations and the conduct of proceedings: Normally the European Council meets for two days.

The prime minister (or president) of the rotating EU Council presidency has been given the role to report on the work of the Council to the European Council.

The president of the European Parliament may be invited to be heard at the beginning of the meeting. There is a strong presumption in favour of continuing established practice in this regard, because the contrary would require a unanimous vote.

Meetings in the margins of the European Council with third states are allowed only exceptionally. The rule seems to be designed to help the European Council concentrate on its agenda.

The meetings of the European Council are not public.

The Rules of Procedure repeat the provisions of the Lisbon Treaty, which state the members:

27 heads of state/government
Commission president

The High Representative participates.

The Lisbon Treaty tries to limit participation. In practice, the foreign ministers do not participate without a specific decision. The total size of the national delegations in the building is limited to 20 persons.

The president is responsible for the application of the Rules of Procedure and for the smooth conduct of the discussions.

Article 5 Representation before the European Parliament: The president of the European Council reports to the European Parliament after each meeting, but the prime minister (or president) of the rotating six month Council presidency country is still allowed to present its priorities and results.

Article 6 Adoption of positions, decisions and quorum: Consensus decisions remain the rule.

The president or a member can initiate a vote, if the treaties allow for a vote.

A quorum of two thirds of the heads of government (or state) is required for a vote.

The Rules of Procedure reiterate the treaty provisions that a member can act for one other member, that the president and Commission president do not participate in votes, and that procedural questions are decided by a simple majority.

Article 7 Written procedure: Written procedures and votes are allowed on urgent matters, by unanimous agreement.

Article 8 Minutes: Minutes are drawn up by the General Secretariat of the Council and approved by the European Council.

The minutes contain references to the documents submitted to the European Council, the conclusions approved, the decisions taken, and the statements made by the European Council or requested by a member of the European Council.

Ralf Grahn

P.S. Do you find EUSSR myths fascinating? Are we EU citizens worth a better European Union? Educate yourself! Growing, multilingual now aggregates 494 euroblogs.

You can access all the posts on the Posts page or concentrate on the editors’ choice of articles on the Home page. On most of the blogs you can comment and discuss our common European future.

Blogs on EU affairs and European themes, by associations or individuals, can join Gain visibility, credibility and readers by proposing a new blog! Click to the Contribute page.