Codecision and national parliamentary scrutiny - European Union Committee Contents


1. Introduction

    This code of conduct sets out general principles within Parliament, on how to conduct negotiations during all stages of the codecision procedure with the aim of increasing their transparency and accountability, especially at an early stage of the procedure[32]. It is complementary to the "Joint Declaration on practical arrangements for the codecision procedure" agreed between Parliament, Council and the Commission which focuses more on the relationship between these institutions.

    Within Parliament, the lead parliamentary committee shall be the main responsible body during negotiations both at first and second reading.

2. Decision to enter into negotiations

    As a general rule, Parliament shall make use of all possibilities offered at all stages of the codecision procedure. The decision to seek to achieve an agreement early in the legislative process shall be a case-by-case decision, taking account of the distinctive characteristics of each individual file. It shall be politically justified in terms of, for example, political priorities; the uncontroversial or 'technical' nature of the proposal; an urgent situation and/or the attitude of a given Presidency to a specific file.

    The possibility of entering into negotiations with the Council shall be presented by the rapporteur to the full committee and the decision to pursue such a course of action shall be taken either by broad consensus or, if necessary, by a vote.

3. Composition of negotiating team

    The decision by the committee to enter into negotiations with the Council and the Commission in view of an agreement shall also include a decision on the composition of the EP negotiating team. As a general principle, political balance shall be respected and all political groups shall be represented at least at staff level in these negotiations.

    The relevant service of the EP General Secretariat shall be responsible for the practical organisation of the negotiations.

4. Mandate of the negotiating team

    As a general rule, the amendments adopted in committee or in plenary shall form the basis for the mandate of the EP negotiating team. The committee may also determine priorities and a time-limit for negotiations.

    In the exceptional case of negotiations on a first reading agreement before the vote in committee, the committee shall provide guidance to the EP negotiating team.

5. Organisation of trilogues

    As a matter of principle and in order to enhance transparency, trilogues taking place within the European Parliament and Council shall be announced.

    Negotiations in trilogues shall be based on one joint document, indicating the position of the respective institution with regard to each individual amendment, and also including any compromise texts distributed at trilogue meetings (e.g. established practice of a four-column document). As far as possible, compromise texts submitted for discussion at a forthcoming meeting shall be circulated in advance to all participants.

    If necessary, interpretation facilities should be provided to the EP negotiating team.[33]

6. Feedback and decision on agreement reached

    After each trilogue, the negotiating team shall report back to the committee on the outcome of the negotiations and make all texts distributed available to the committee. If this is not possible for timing reasons, the negotiating team shall meet the shadow rapporteurs, if necessary together with the coordinators, for a full update.

    The committee shall consider any agreement reached or update the mandate of the negotiating team in the case that further negotiations are required. If this is not possible for timing reasons, notably at second reading stage, the decision on the agreement shall be taken by the rapporteur and the shadow rapporteurs, if necessary together with the committee chair and the coordinators. There shall be sufficient time between the end of the negotiations and the vote in plenary to allow political groups to prepare their final position.

7. Assistance

    The negotiating team shall be provided with all the resources necessary for it to conduct its work properly. This should include an 'administrative support team' made up of the committee secretariat, political advisor of the rapporteur, the codecision secretariat and the legal service. Depending on the individual file and on the stage of the negotiations, this team could be enlarged.

8. Finalisation

    The agreement between Parliament and Council shall be confirmed in writing by an official letter. No changes shall be made to any agreed texts without the explicit agreement, at the appropriate level, of both the European Parliament and the Council.

9. Conciliation

    The principles laid down in this code of conduct shall also be applicable for the conciliation procedure, with the EP delegation as the main responsible body within Parliament.

31   As adopted by the Working Party on Parliamentary Reform at its meeting on 23 April 2008. Back

32   Special attention needs to be given to negotiations taking place at those stages of the procedure, where the visibility within Parliament is very limited. This is the case for negotiations: (a) before the committee vote at first reading with the aim of reaching a first reading agreement; (b) after Parliament's first reading with the aim of reaching an early second reading agreement. Back

33   In line with the decision taken by the Bureau of 10 December 2007. Back

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