Monday, 6 September 2010

Help me find legal and political decisions concerning EU “State of the Union” debate

The European Commission’s agenda from 6 September to 3 October 2010 tells us:

During his second mandate, the President has agreed with the European Parliament to give a yearly address on the State of the Union. This has been incorporated into the Framework Agreement that has been agreed with the European Parliament. President Barroso will give an assessment of where the Union stands and outline the political challenges for the next 12 months.

I looked for the framework agreement between the European Commission and the European Parliament, annexed to the European Parliament’s Rules of Procedure (July 2010): Annex XIV, from page 177 (including its annexes).

Even if there are many commendable provisions on how the Commission shall keep the European Parliament informed, I failed to find an annual address on the “State of the Union” or a speech resembling that scheduled for September.

The newsletter from the European Parliament on the 6-9 September 2010 Strasbourg plenary session offers us the following information about the State of the Union debate with President Barroso:

Commission President José Manuel Barroso will give his first-ever State of the Union address to the European Parliament in Strasbourg on Tuesday. The ensuing debate will enable MEPs to review with Mr Barroso the developments in the European Union since the EP elections of June 2009 and the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty in December 2009.

The Legislative Observatory Oeil adds the following referral regarding the procedure: EP 110-p2. Let us quote the first two paragraphs of Rule 110:

Rule 110 Statements by the Commission, Council and European Council

1. Members of the Commission, the Council and the European Council may at any time ask the President of Parliament for permission to make a statement. The President of the European Council shall make a statement after each of its meetings. The President of Parliament shall decide when the statement may be made and whether it is to be followed by a full debate or by 30 minutes of brief and concise questions from Members.

2. When placing a statement with debate on its agenda, Parliament shall decide whether or not to wind up the debate with a resolution. It shall not do so if a report on the same matter is scheduled for the same or the next part-session, unless the President, for exceptional reasons, proposes otherwise. If Parliament decides to wind up a debate with a resolution, a committee, a political group or at least 40 Members may table a motion for a resolution.

If Barroso’s “statement” has morphed into a “State of the Union” debate, does this mean that all other members of the Commission, the Council and the European Council can, from now on, use the same epithet for their statements to the EP plenary?

How about the president of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, whose duty it is to make a statement after each meeting of the European Council?

Since I must have missed some pertinent points, could the European Commission or the European Parliament, please give me more accurate information about the legal and political decisions concerning this major institutional novelty, the State of the Union address?

Ralf Grahn

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