The European Parliament Page: 2 of 5
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the Parliament has come to be The "Co-decision Procedure"
viewed as an increasingly important The EU's "co-decision procedure" can be
democratic counterweight at the summarized as follows: (1) if Parliament and the
European level to the Commission Council of Ministers agree on a Commission proposal,
and Council. The Amsterdam it is approved; (2) if they disagree, the Council forms a
Treaty of 1997, which entered into common position; the EP can then either accept the
Council's common position, or reject or amend it, by an
force in May 1999, extended the absolute majority of its members; (3) if the Council
"co-decision procedure" to many cannot accept the EP's amendments, a conciliation
additional policy areas (ranging from meeting is convened, after which the EP and the Council
the environment to social policy). In approve an agreement if one can be reached. If they are
unable to agree, the proposal is not adopted.
the "co-decision procedure," the EP
and the Council share legislative
power and must both approve a Commission proposal for it to become EU law.
Reportedly, the EP currently has a say in about 80% of the legislation passed in the EU.1
Tax matters and foreign policy, however, are among the areas to which the "co-decision
procedure" does not apply (the Parliament may give a non-binding opinion). In June
2004, EU leaders concluded a new constitutional treaty that would roughly double the
Parliament's right of "co-decision" to 80 policy areas, including agriculture and home
affairs issues, such as asylum and immigration. The constitutional treaty, however, has
effectively been on hold following its rejection by French and Dutch voters in May and
June 2005. Germany, which holds the EU's rotating six-month presidency in the first half
of 2007, has made reviving the treaty one of its priorities, but its prospects for success are
uncertain at best.2
Budget. The EP and the Council exercise joint powers in determining the EU's
annual budget of roughly $165 billion. The budgetary procedure begins with the
Commission proposing a preliminary draft budget to the Council. The Council prepares
another draft, which the EP may approve or modify in its first reading. On "compulsory"
expenditures - mainly agriculture - the Council currently has the final say, but the EP
has the last word on "non-compulsory" expenditures such as structural funds and
development aid. The Council may amend the EP's draft and send it back to the EP for
a second reading. The EP can re-amend these Council changes, and must then adopt or
reject the budget. The new EU constitutional treaty, if ultimately ratified, would eliminate
the distinction between "compulsory" and "non-compulsory" expenditures, and would
thus give the EP more control over agricultural spending. The EP's budgetary power is
considerably greater than that exercised by most parliaments in EU member states.
Other Responsibilities. The Parliament also plays a supervisory role over the
European Commission and the Council of Ministers. The EP votes on the Commission's
program and monitors the management of EU policies, in particular through oral and
written questions to the Commission and the Council. The EP has the right to dismiss the
entire Commission through a vote of censure. Although the EP has never exercised this
power, in March 1999, the Commission opted to resign rather than face a formal censure
by the EP over alleged corruption charges.
1 "Why Citizens Should Care About Who Is in the Parliament," EuroNews, June 9, 2004.
2 For more information, see CRS Report RS21618, The European Union's Constitution, by
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The European Parliament, report, May 21, 2007; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc806022/m1/2/: accessed December 14, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.