Category Archives: Institutional affairs

The European Union is both a political project and a legal organisation. It takes action in numerous areas affecting the daily lives of European citizens. The policies of the European Union are implemented in accordance with the rules and procedures set out in the Treaties.
The European Union consists of 27 Member States which have, through various Treaties, delegated certain powers to the Community institutions. The European Union thus has its own exclusive powers and others which it shares with its Member States. The Member States have also retained certain reserved powers.

Building europe through the treaties
The EEC, ECSC and EURATOM treaties, Single Act, Treaty of Maastricht, Treaty of Amsterdam, Treaty of Nice, European Convention, CIG 2003/2004, Draft Constitution.
The institutions, bodies and agencies of the union
European Parliament, Council of the European Union, European Commission, Court of Justice, European Court of Auditors, Status of officials, Consultative bodies, Financial agencies, European mediator, European controller of data protection, Interinstitutional agencies, Decentralised agencies.
The decision-making process and the work of the institutions
Decision-making process, legislative procedure, budgetary procedure, Community legal order, secondary legislation, activities of the institutions, governance, Community legislation, publication, transparency, access to documents, enforcement of Community legislation, comitology.

Employment

Employment

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Employment

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Institutional affairs > Building europe through the treaties > The Amsterdam treaty: a comprehensive guide

Employment

Originally the policies and powers of the European Community were not on the agenda of the 1996 Inter-Governmental Conference. However, the disappointment engendered by the absence of a reference to employment in the Treaty on European Union (1992) and the initiative to combat unemployment mounted by the Essen European Council (9 and 10 December 1994) prompted the Member States to prioritise these issues at the Intergovernmental Conference on the revision of the Treaty of Maastricht, in order to respond to what is one of their citizens’ main concerns.

Following difficult negotiations due to the diversity of situations and national policies in the field of employment, a consensus finally emerged on the precedence of national policies and the rejection of large-scale spending programmes. The addition of a new chapter on employment in the Treaty establishing the European Community is the fruit of these negotiations.

A new objective for the European Union

Promoting employment is henceforth one of the objectives of the European Union and becomes a “matter of common concern” for the Member States (Article 2 of the EC Treaty). The new objective is to achieve “a high level of employment” without weakening the competitiveness of the European Union (Article 2 of the EU Treaty).

To achieve this objective a new power has been vested in the Union, supplementary to that of the Member States, concerning the preparation of a “coordinated strategy” for employment. The core of this strategy consists of common guidelines similar to those adopted at the Essen European Council.

The new Title VIII (Articles 125 to 130) of the EC Treaty spells out these objectives and how to achieve them. It also provides for the creation of an Employment Committee.

The Treaty’s explicit reference to employment institutionalises the initiatives mounted by the Member States at different European Councils as well as those mounted by the Commission over the past two years. Moreover, alongside the provisions on Economic and Monetary Union, it redresses the balance by adding to the macroeconomic provisions a number of measures that meet European citizens’ expectations as regards the struggle against unemployment. Indeed one of the hallmarks of this new Title is that repercussions on employment must be taken into account in adopting and implementing each Community policy and action.

Early implementation

At the Amsterdam Council of 16 and 17 June 1997 the Member States decided to apply the new provisions on employment in the Amsterdam Treaty ahead of schedule, and on 1 October the European Commission proposed guidelines for the Member States’ employment policies in 1998.

BACKGROUND

During the Intergovernmental Conference on Economic and Monetary Union (1992), a debate took place on the advisability of including employment among the convergence criteria which Member States had to respect if they wanted to participate in the single currency. This idea was rejected by most governments, who were keen to guard their prerogatives in the field of employment policy. During the national debates in the run-up to the ratification of the Treaty on European Union, the absence of any reference to employment in the new Treaty came in for heavy criticism. It looked as if the European Union cared little about unemployment and jobs – at a time when the Member States were finding themselves compelled to make difficult social choices in order to reduce their deficits in preparation for future Economic and Monetary Union.

Preliminary steps – Essen

In 1994 the Essen European Council (9 and 10 December) adopted – for the first time at European level – short- and medium-term lines of action on employment. The summit’s conclusions state that reducing unemployment is one of the priority tasks of the European Union and highlight the structural origins of much of European unemployment and the crucial role of meaningful dialogue between the social partners and policy-makers with a view to resolving this problem.

The European Council also defined five priority strands for Member States’ employment policies:

  • promoting investment in vocational training so that workers can adapt to technological developments throughout their working life
  • increasing employment during periods of growth (notably via more flexible work organisation, a wage policy designed to encourage job-creating investments and the encouragement of initiatives at regional and local level)
  • reducting nonwage labour costs to encourage hiring, in particular of unqualified workers
  • improving the effectiveness of labour market policy by a better definition of measures to raise wages and by regularly evaluating the effectiveness of labour market policy instruments
  • improving measures to help groups which are particularly hard hit by unemployment, notably long-term unemployment (young people leaving school without qualifications, elderly workers and women).

These recommendations have been implemented in the Member States in the form of multi-annual programmes. Each year the Commission prepares a report on employment trends and policies in the Member States and evaluates them in the light of the priorities that have been adopted.

The Confidence Pact

In June 1996 the European Commission mounted an “Action for employment in Europe: a Confidence Pact” with a view to mobilising all the players concerned at Community, national and local level, capitalising on the potential multiplier effect of these actions at European level, and enshrining the struggle against unemployment in the framework of a medium and long term vision of society. The Dublin European Council (13-14 December 1996) welcomed this initiative embracing all the economic and social operators and called for swift implementation of the draft territorial employment pacts (80 of these pacts had been signed by June 1997).

The European Union has also taken numerous job-creation measures under the Structural Funds and the European Social Fund. By including employment in the Community policies and putting it on the agenda of all European Councils, the Treaty of Amsterdam allows the development of Community employment initiatives and the creation of a consistent policy at European level.

A NEW COMMUNITY POLICY

The new Title VIII puts in place a coordinated employment strategy designed to encourage a skilled and adaptable labour force and to promote labour markets that are responsive to economic change.

Common guidelines

Firstly the European Council adopts conclusions on the employment situation in the Community on the basis of the annual report prepared by the Council of the European Union and the Commission.

These conclusions enable the Commission to propose employment policy guidelines each year that are compatible with the major economic guidelines laid down under monetary union (Article 99, ex Article 103). The Council adopts the guidelines by qualified majority after consulting the European Parliament, the Economic and Social Committee, the Committee of the Regions and the Employment Committee. The procedure is modelled on the convergence arrangements for national economic policies. However, the common guidelines do not advocate measures to harmonise national provisions, though they do have an indirect impact on Member States’ policy.

Member States must take these common objectives into account in their employment policies. The Council then examines the annual reports submitted by the Member States in this area and, if it deems necessary, addresses a recommendation – acting on a proposal from the Commission – to a Member State. This recommendation is then adopted by the Council by qualified majority.

This provision is similar to the one on economic policy, but no penalties are imposed on Member States that fail to comply with the Council’s recommendations. Nor does the Treaty state that these recommendations have to be published.

Finally, in contrast to the provisions on economic and monetary union, Title VIII does not prescribe any macroeconomic objectives to be achieved, along the lines of the economic convergence criteria. Certain Member States did not want binding objectives enshrined in the Treaty. In their view, putting a coordinated strategy in place already amounted to a major step forward.

Incentive measures

The Council may adopt initiative measures to promote employment, acting by qualified majority and in accordance with the codecision procedure involving the European Parliament. These measures should “encourage cooperation between Member States and to support their action in the field of employment through initiatives aimed at developing exchanges of information and best practices, providing comparative analysis and advice as well as promoting innovative approaches and evaluating experience, in particular by recourse to pilot projects”. They do not “include harmonisation of the laws and regulations of the Member States”. However, the coordinated strategy on employment should have an indirect impact on these rules.

The initiative measures are fleshed out in two declarations:

  • the actions must specify the grounds for their adoption, their duration (maximum five years) and the maximum amount of funding
  • their funding is limited because it must be provided under Rubric 3 of the Financial Perspectives, which represents approximately 6% of the Community budget.

THE EMPLOYMENT COMMITTEE

A Committee on Employment and the Labour Market was established in December 1996. It has restricted powers. The new Article 130 of the EC Treaty replaces this Committee and requires the Council to establish an Employment Committee, on the lines of the Monetary Committee established by economic and monetary union.

This advisory committee promotes coordination between Member States on national employment and labour market policies. It monitors the development of these policies in the member states and the Community as a whole, formulates opinions either at the request of the Council or Commission or on its own initiative, and helps prepare the ground for the Council’s proceedings.

Like the former Committee on Employment and the Labour Market, it consists of two representatives of each Member State and the Commission. It consults the social partners.

Transparency, simplification of the Treaties and quality of Community legislation

Transparency, simplification of the Treaties and quality of Community legislation

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Transparency, simplification of the Treaties and quality of Community legislation

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Institutional affairs > Building europe through the treaties > The Amsterdam treaty: a comprehensive guide

Transparency, simplification of the Treaties and quality of Community legislation

The European Union often deals with complex technical matters, whilst its institutional arrangements are unique and difficult to understand on first acquaintance. Frequent misunderstandings have thus arisen between the European institutions, national political and economic interests and the European public at large. To promote a better understanding of the European integration process, the institutions are gradually adopting more transparent ways of working and taking decisions.

The concept of “transparency” applies mainly to the question of access to Union information and documents but it also has to do with the production of clearly understandable legislative texts. It involves not only producing a single consolidated version of each text which has undergone amendments (such consolidation may be done formally or informally) but also laying down drafting rules so that any piece of legislation adopted in each of the Community’s official languages (of which there are currently eleven) is as clear as possible.

The Treaty of Amsterdam confers certain rights on the public and makes recommendations to the institutions with a view to ensuring that the fullest possible information is available and thus improving the democratic workings of the European Union.

TRANSPARENCY

To clarify the concept of “transparency” some amendments have been made to the EC Treaty.

A new Article 255 has been inserted, giving any Union citizen and any natural or legal person residing or having a registered office in a member state the right of access to European Parliament, Council and Commission documents.

The general principles governing the right of access and any restrictions on the grounds of public or private interest are to be fixed by the Council, acting under the codecision procedure with Parliament, within two years after the Treaty of Amsterdam enters into force. The three institutions concerned must include specific rules on access to documents in their Rules of Procedure.

A third paragraph has been added to Article 207 (ex Article 151), requiring the Council to grant access to documents relating to its legislative activities. As a minimum requirement, the results of votes, explanations of votes, and statements in the minutes must be made public.

These provisions clarify the rights of the public regarding access to documents and apply to all areas covered by the first and third pillars. However, they do not cover the common foreign and security policy, since that involves diplomatic rather than legislative activities. Access to certain national documents may also be restricted if the member state concerned so requests (Declaration adopted by the intergovernmental conference on Article 255).

SIMPLIFICATION AND CONSOLIDATION OF THE TREATIES

It has become difficult to read the original Treaties because of all the deletions, additions and amendments made by the Single European Act and the Treaties of Maastricht and Amsterdam. To make the EU Treaty and the EC Treaty easier to follow, all their articles have been renumbered.

In a Declaration adopted by the Intergovernmental Conference, the Member States also agreed to produce consolidated versions of all the Treaties. This consolidation will have no legal status but will provide more legible texts from which any lapsed provisions will have been deleted.

QUALITY OF THE DRAFTING OF COMMUNITY LEGISLATION

The Intergovernmental Conference adopted a Declaration incorporating the conclusions of the Edinburgh European Council (11-12 December 1992) and the Council Resolution of 8 June1993. This Declaration stresses that Community legislation must be clearly drafted if it is to be properly implemented by the competent national authorities and better understood by the general public.

In particular, the Conference calls on the three main institutions responsible for drafting Community legislation (the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission) to establish guidelines for improving the quality of the texts which they draft, amend or adopt.

The Conference also called for the codification of legislative texts to be speeded up.

Common commercial policy

Common commercial policy

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Common commercial policy

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These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Institutional affairs > Building europe through the treaties > The Amsterdam treaty: a comprehensive guide

Common commercial policy

As part of the European Community, the Member States have established a customs union with common arrangements for imports from other countries. The Community’s common commercial policy is therefore based on a common external tariff uniformly applied to all Member States.

When the EEC Treaty was signed, the Community’s economy and external trade were geared mainly to production and trade in industrial products. This no longer applies, because the services sector is now the main source of jobs within the European Union and accounts for a substantial proportion of its international trade. This change is due partly to very stiff competition from newly industrialised countries in traditional sectors and partly to the economic changes brought about by the new information and communication technologies.

Following the Uruguay Round negotiations under the GATT, the setting-up of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) clearly reflected this trend. In order to cope with the changing nature of trade, the WTO embraces within the same structure trade negotiations on products (GATT), services (GATS) and intellectual property (TRIPS).

In the face of the new pattern of international trade, the European Union must be able to develop its trade mechanisms rapidly if it wishes to maintain its leading role in world trade relations. The scope of Article 113 (renumbered Article 133) is still rather vague and until it takes account of the globalisation of trade negotiations, the EU will continue to create difficulties for itself vis-à-vis its trading partners.

The Amsterdam Treaty is intended to clarify the situation by providing the Union with the means of extending the common commercial policy, where applicable, to services and intellectual property rights.

BACKGROUND

The objective of the EEC Treaty was to establish a common market between the Member States of the Community in which goods, people, services and capital could move freely. In order to achieve this, a twelve-year transitional period up to 31 December 1969 was introduced. For the sake of cohesion, liberalisation at internal level had to be in tune with that at external level and the Community therefore has had sole competence for common commercial policy since the transitional period ended.

Up to 1970, it was for Member States to coordinate their trade relations with non-Community countries. This did not, however, prevent the Community from concluding bilateral agreements (e.g. with Israel in 1964) or from taking part, in its own right, in the Kennedy Round of negotiations between 1963 and 1967.

Gradually, the expansion of international trade made common commercial policy into one of the Community’s most important policies. At the same time, the successive enlargements of the Community and the consolidation of the common market strengthened the Community’s position as a pole of attraction and influence for trade negotiations, conducted bilaterally with other countries and multilaterally in the GATT. The EU therefore gradually developed a close network of trade relations worldwide, and as a result the EU is now at the top of the international trade league, ahead of the United States and Japan.

Since 1 January 1970, decisions under common commercial policy have been taken by qualified majoritywithin the Council. The scope of Article 113 has been given a wide interpretation by the Court of Justice, which in 1978 stated that the list in the Article 113(1) was not restrictive (it refers to changes in tariff rates, the conclusion of tariff and trade agreements, the achievement of uniformity in measures of liberalisation, export policy and measures to protect trade). The Court also felt that commercial policy would gradually lose its importance if it was not allowed to go beyond the traditional machinery of external trade. The Court added to its interpretation in 1994, however, by stating that trade negotiations on services and intellectual property could not be based on Article 113 and so did not come under the Community’s sole powers. The Court nevertheless stressed the need for close cooperation between the Commission and the Member States and recommended that a code of conduct be adopted.

THE NEW ARTICLE 133 OF THE EC TREATY

A new paragraph has been added to Article 133 (ex Article 113). It allows the Council, after consulting Parliament, to extend the scope of Article 133 to international negotiations and agreements on services and intellectual property rights where they are not already covered by common commercial policy.

The addition of this paragraph means that it will not be necessary to amend the Treaty (which would require an intergovernmental conference and ratification by all the Member States) if it is decided to extend the scope of the traditional trade negotiation procedure.

In concrete terms, a decision to extend the Community’s powers in trade matters can now be taken by the members of the Council acting unanimously.

European Commission

European Commission

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about European Commission

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These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Institutional affairs > Building europe through the treaties > The Amsterdam treaty: a comprehensive guide

European Commission

A protocol on the institutions with the prospect of enlargement has been annexed to the EU Treaty and to the Treaties establishing the European Communities. It lays down a number of institutional conditions that will have to be met at the next enlargement and provides for another Intergovernmental Conference to be convened before the membership of the European Union exceeds twenty. The present structure is the legacy of an organisation designed for six Member States and although it has been adjusted to take account of the accession of new members, it still operates today on the same institutional principles.

Consequently the European Commission is faced with various questions concerning in particular its composition, the role of its President and its democratic legitimacy. The Amsterdam Treaty attempts to answer the questions by pursuing the objective of strengthening the institution of which the main role is to represent the general interests of the Union completely independently.

The new Treaty changes the procedure for confirming the Commission to consolidate its legitimacy along the lines etched out by the Maastricht Treaty. As for the optimum size of the Commission, the Protocol on the institutions has tied this issue to reweighting the votes in the Council.

In addition, in a Declaration to the Final Act, the Intergovernmental Conference called on the Commission to submit to the Council, by the end of 1998, a proposal to amend the procedures for the exercise of implementing powers conferred on the Commission (comitology).

COMPOSITION

The composition of the Commission is closely connected to the question of collective responsibility.

This is a distinctive feature of the structure of the Commission and means that decisions adopted by the Commission reflect the views of the full body, rather than the views of individual members. With enlargement, it is feared that a significant increase in the number of Commissioners might increase their responsiveness to national considerations to the detriment of collective responsibility. On the other hand, limiting the number of members is a delicate issue since it would mean that not all nationalities would be represented.

In response to this problem, the Protocol on the institutions provides that at the next enlargement of the Union the Commission will comprise one national of each Member State, provided that by that date the weighting of the votes in the Council has been modified in a manner acceptable to all Member States. The idea is to revise the scale of weightings so that the relative weight of small and medium-sized countries is not disproportionate to the size of the population.

PRESIDENCY

The role of the President of the Commission is to ensure its unity and effectiveness. The Amsterdam Treaty seeks to strengthen the President’s position in exercising his function.

The amendment to Article 214 (ex Article 158) strengthens the legitimacy of the President by submitting his nomination for approval by the European Parliament. Under the new provisions, the Members of the Commission are now nominated by common accord with the President, rather than simply after consulting him. Article 217 (ex Article 163) also promotes closer coordination between the Members of the Commission by providing that they “will work under the political guidance of its President”.

Declaration 32 to the Amsterdam Treaty will also have the effect of strengthening the President’s role by providing that he will enjoy broad discretion in the allocation of tasks within the Commission, as well as in any reshuffling of those tasks during a Commission’s term of office. The Declaration goes on to note the Commission’s intention to undertake in parallel a corresponding reorganisation of its departments, and in particular the desirability of bringing external relations under the responsibility of a Vice-President in the interests of consistency.

RIGHT OF INITIATIVE

The Commission’s right of initiative has been strengthened in three ways:

  • new provisions will be incorporated in the Treaty establishing the European Community (employment, social affairs, etc.);
  • after a transitional period of five years when the right of initiative is shared with the Member States, questions previously covered by Title VI procedures (asylum, immigration, judicial cooperation in civil matters) will come under the Community and the sole right of initiative will pass to the Commission;
  • in areas under the third pillar (police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters) the Commission will acquire a shared right of initiative with the Member States.

The Court of Justice

The Court of Justice

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about The Court of Justice

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These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Institutional affairs > Building europe through the treaties > The Amsterdam treaty: a comprehensive guide

The Court of Justice

Conferring greater democratic legitimacy on the European institutions is one of the chief aims of the reform of the European Union. The role of the Court of Justice is important in this context since it has the task of ensuring that the law is observed in the interpretation and application of the Treaties, an essential requirement if the European Union is to work along democratic lines.

The Court’s powers have been widened by the Treaty of Amsterdam. It now has jurisdiction in areas that previously lay outside its field of competence, but where there is an urgent need to protect individual rights:

  • fundamental rights;
  • asylum, immigration, free movement of persons and judicial cooperation in civil matters;
  • police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters.

FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS

Article 46 (ex Article L) of the EU Treaty has been amended to extend the powers of the Court of Justice to cover Article 6(2) (ex Article F.2) of the Treaty, as far as action by the European institutions is concerned.

Article 6 requires the Union to respect fundamental rights, as guaranteed by the European Convention on Human Rights. The amendment is important since it formally gives the Court the power to rule on how the Convention is being applied by the Community institutions. This should spur the Court to greater vigilance.

ASYLUM, IMMIGRATION, FREE MOVEMENT OF PERSONS AND JUDICIAL COOPERATION IN CIVIL MATTERS

A new Title (“Visas, asylum, immigration and other policies related to free movement of persons”) has been inserted in the EC Treaty. The Treaty already contained provisions relating to visas (ex Article 100c, which has been repealed). The main changes therefore relate to the new Community framework for questions regarding asylum, immigration, free movement of persons, and judicial cooperation in civil matters.

Under Article 68 the Court now has jurisdiction in the following cases:

  • a national court against whose decisions there is no judicial remedy under national law may ask the Court of Justice to give a ruling on a question concerning the interpretation of the new Title or the validity or interpretation of Community acts based on it, if a ruling by the Court is necessary so that the national court can give judgment;
  • the Council, the Commission or a Member State may request the Court of Justice to give a ruling on a question of interpretation of the Title or Community acts based on it.

POLICE AND JUDICIAL COOPERATION IN CRIMINAL MATTERS

Title VI of the EU Treaty has been renamed “Provisions on police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters”.

Article 35 (ex Article K.7) lays down two restrictions on the Court’s powers to rule on matters covered by Title VI:

  • preliminary rulings apply only to those Member States which have made a declaration accepting the jurisdiction of the Court (paragraph 2);
  • actions for annulment may be brought only by Member States or the Commission (paragraph 6).

The Court also has jurisdiction to rule on any dispute between Member States over the interpretation or application of the measures adopted and on any dispute between Member States and the Commission about the interpretation or application of conventions established under the third pillar.

The Court of Auditors, the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions

The Court of Auditors, the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about The Court of Auditors, the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions

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These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Institutional affairs > Building europe through the treaties > The Amsterdam treaty: a comprehensive guide

The Court of Auditors, the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions

The role of the Court of Auditors as a Community institution has been enhanced:

  • it is now included in Article 5 (ex Article E) of the EU Treaty;
  • it has been given the right to bring actions before the Court of Justice for the purpose of protecting its prerogatives, under Article 230 of the EC Treaty (ex Article 173).

Its powers as a watchdog and investigator have been increased so that more effective steps can be taken to combat fraud to the detriment of the Community budget. It must notify any irregularity in Community revenue or expenditure to the European Parliament and the Council. For this purpose it has been given powers to audit the accounts of external bodies managing Community funds, including the European Investment Bank (EIB).

In the performance of its duties the Court of Auditors may require any relevant documents or information to be produced and may conduct audits “on the spot in the other institutions of the Community, on the premises of any body which manages revenue or expenditure on behalf of the Community and in the Member States, including on the premises of any natural or legal person in receipt of payments from the budget” (Article 248(3)).

In the case of the EIB the Court of Auditors has access to the information needed for the audit of Community expenditure and revenue managed by the Bank. Its rights of access will be governed by an agreement between the Court, the Bank and the Commission (such an agreement already existed, and a Declaration invites the three institutions concerned to maintain it in force).

In addition to this increase in the powers of the Court of Auditors, Article 248 (ex Article 188c) calls for close cooperation between the Court and national audit bodies.

Furthermore, the statement of assurance provided by the Court as to the reliability of accounts and the legality and regularity of the underlying transactions is to be published in the Official Journal of the European Communities.

THE ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COMMITTEE

Consultation of the Economic and Social Committee is mandatory on a wider range of topics. The new areas of the EC Treaty on which the Economic and Social Committee must first be consulted are:

  • the guidelines and incentives for employment (Articles 128 and 129);
  • the social legislation resulting from the agreements reached by management and labour (Articles 136 to 143);
  • implementation of the principle of equal opportunities (Article 141);
  • public health (Article 152).

The Economic and Social Committee may also be consulted by the European Parliament if the latter deems such consultation appropriate.

The administrative structure of the Economic and Social Committee is now separate from that of the Committee of the Regions. The Protocol to the EC Treaty providing for a common organisational structure has been repealed.

THE COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS

The Committee of the Regions must be consulted in the following additional areas:

  • the areas listed above for the Economic and Social Committee;
  • the environment (Article 175);
  • the Social Fund (Article 148);
  • vocational training (Article 150) ;
  • cross-border cooperation (first paragraph of Article 265);
  • transport (Articles 71 and 80).

The Committee may also be consulted by the European Parliament on other matters.

Like the Economic and Social Committee, the Committee of the Regions now has its own separate administrative structure. Similarly, it may draw up its own rules of procedure without requiring the unanimous approval of the Council, as was required before.

National parliaments

National parliaments

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about National parliaments

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Institutional affairs > Building europe through the treaties > The Amsterdam treaty: a comprehensive guide

National parliaments

Since 1989 members of the national parliaments and the European Parliament have been meeting at six-monthly intervals within the Conference of European Affairs Committees (COSAC), essentially for the purpose of exchanging information.

When the Treaty of Maastricht came into force, the powers of the European institutions were extended to areas such as justice and home affairs, which had traditionally been national preserves. It was therefore important that the national parliaments should be kept informed, as fully and as rapidly as possible, so that they (and through them the citizens of the European Union) could be more closely involved in the Community’s decision-making process and exercise better control over their country’s representatives within the Council.

Given the diversity of their national traditions, the Member States recognised the need to lay down common principles on information for and contributions from the national parliaments. For this reason, a Protocol on the role of national parliaments has been annexed to the founding Treaties.

Parliamentary scrutiny of individual national governments depends on the constitutional practice followed by each Member State. It was considered important, however, to encourage greater involvement of national parliaments in the activities of the European Union and to enhance their ability to express their views on matters which might be of particular interest to them.

PROVISION OF INFORMATION TO THE NATIONAL PARLIAMENTS OF THE MEMBER STATES

The following documents must be promptly forwarded to national parliaments:

  • white papers;
  • green papers;
  • communications;
  • proposals for legislation.

The procedure for adopting legislative acts or measures under Title VI of the EU Treaty (police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters) requires there to be at least six weeks between the date when the Commission sends its proposal to the European Parliament and the Council and the date when it is placed on the Council agenda. This gives national parliaments sufficient time to discuss the proposal, if necessary, with their respective governments.

THE CONFERENCE OF EUROPEAN AFFAIRS COMMITTEES (COSAC)

The new Protocol acknowledges the valuable role played by COSAC. The committee can send the EU institutions any contribution it thinks appropriate, especially concerning proposed acts which representatives of the national governments may jointly decide to forward to it in view of the subject matter involved.

Above all, COSAC can examine any legislative proposal concerning the area of freedom, security and justice that might have a direct bearing on the rights and freedoms of individuals. Its observations are forwarded to the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission.

COSAC can also address to the three institutions “any contribution which it deems appropriate on the legislative activities of the Union, notably in relation to the application of the principle of subsidiarity, the area of freedom, security and justice as well as questions regarding fundamental rights”.

The national parliaments will thus be able to play a larger role in the decision-making process and contribute more to the drafting of EU legislation.

Subsidiarity

Subsidiarity

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Subsidiarity

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Institutional affairs > Building europe through the treaties > The Amsterdam treaty: a comprehensive guide

Subsidiarity

One of the major objectives of the Intergovernmental Conference on the revision of the Treaties was to bring the European Union closer to its citizens by enabling them to understand and influence European integration. A number of Community policies, such as those on consumer protection or employment, will be reformed with this specific goal in mind.

Subsidiarity was another major topic of discussion when the conference considered how better to meet the expectations of the people of Europe. To consolidate this principle, on which the efficiency of the European Union depends, a specific protocol has been annexed to the EC Treaty.

PROTOCOL ON THE PRINCIPLE OF SUBSIDIARITY

In October 1992, the Birmingham European Council confirmed that decisions should be taken as closely as possible to the citizens of the Union in accordance with Article 5 (ex Article 3b) of the EC Treaty. With this in mind, the Edinburgh European Council of December 1992 agreed an overall approach for applying the principle of subsidiarity (basic principles, guidelines, and procedures).

The Protocol on the application of the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality codifies the guidelines adopted by the Edinburgh European Council and gives them force in law. By this means the Member States intend to formalise a number of aspects relating to subsidiarity:

  • subsidiarity is a dynamic concept and the appropriate level for action may vary according to circumstances;
  • all legislative proposals will be accompanied by a statement on the impact of the proposed measure on the application of the principle of subsidiarity;
  • consistent with the proper achievement of the objective, the form of Community action should not be too restrictive (as far as possible, directives should be preferred to regulations);
  • subsidiarity should not undermine the powers conferred on the European Community by the Treaty, as interpreted by the Court of Justice.

The main condition for embarking on Community action is set out in the second paragraph of Article 5 of the EC Treaty, which states that the Community shall take action “only if and in so far as the objectives of the proposed action cannot be sufficiently achieved by the Member States and can therefore, by reason of the scale or effects of the proposed action, be better achieved by the Community”. The Protocol cites three criteria for judging whether this condition has been fulfilled:

  • does the action have transnational aspects that cannot be satisfactorily regulated by the Member States?
  • would action by Member States or lack of action conflict with the requirements of the Treaty?
  • would action at Community level produce clear benefits?

Closer cooperation

Closer cooperation

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Closer cooperation

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Institutional affairs > Building europe through the treaties > The Amsterdam treaty: a comprehensive guide

Closer cooperation

The future enlargement of the European Union to Central and Eastern Europe means that it will be essential to review how the European institutions work. The current structure is inherited from an organisation designed for six Member States and, although it has undergone adjustments to take the accession of new Member States into account, it still works on the same institutional principles.

The increase in the number of Member States will increase diversity within the European Union in terms of each Member State’s objectives, sensibilities and priorities. While this diversity is what constitutes the wealth of the European Union, it may also be an obstacle, if the pace of European integration is determined by the slowest.

The Treaty of Amsterdam represents an unprecedented reform, since it introduces the concept of variable-speed integration into the EU Treaty. In concrete terms, three articles have been added to the EU Treaty (Articles 43 to 45). They allow Member States that intend to establish closer cooperation between one another to make use of the institutions, procedures, and mechanisms laid down by the EU Treaty and the EC Treaty.

Closer cooperation enables the most ambitious Member States to deepen cooperation between themselves while leaving the door open to other Member States to join them at a later stage.

CONDITIONS

The Treaty of Amsterdam stipulates a number of general conditions that must be met before closer cooperation can be launched. These are necessary to ensure that the initiative does not jeopardise the functioning of the internal market. In other words, the acquis communautaire must be preserved. Therefore, before any closer cooperation can be launched, it must show that it will:

  • aim to further the objectives of the Union and protect and serve its interests;
  • respect the principles of the Treaties and the single institutional framework of the Union;
  • be used only as a last resort;
  • concern at least a majority of Member States;
  • not affect the acquis communautaire or the measures adopted under the other provisions of the Treaties;
  • not affect the competences, rights, obligations and interests of those Member States which do not participate in it;
  • be open to all Member States and allow them to become parties to the cooperation at any time, provided that they comply with the basic decision and with the decisions taken within that framework.

Closer cooperation is possible in the fields covered by the EC Treaty and in police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters. As far as the common foreign and security policy (CFSP) is concerned, the authors of the Treaty of Amsterdam decided that constructive abstention was already designed to meet flexibility requirements, and that recourse to closer cooperation was therefore unnecessary.

Depending on the pillar concerned, closer cooperation will have to meet certain specific conditions in addition to the general conditions set out in Article K.15:

  • for the first pillar, the cooperation envisaged:

– must not concern areas which fall within the exclusive competence of the Community;
– must not affect Community policies, actions or programmes;
– must not concern the citizenship of the Union or discriminate between nationals of Member States;
– must remain within the limits of the powers conferred upon the Community by the Treaty;
– must not constitute a discrimination or a restriction of trade between Member States and will not distort the conditions of competition between them.

  • for the third pillar, the cooperation envisaged:

– must respect the powers of the European Community and the objectives laid down by Title VI of the Treaty on European Union;
– must have the aim of enabling the Union to develop more rapidly into an area of freedom, security and justice.

ACTIVATION

A new Article 11 has been inserted in the EC Treaty.

This new article provides that, within the framework of the European Community, the initiative for closer cooperation must come from the European Commission following a request to this end by the Member States concerned. The Commission is free to submit a proposal, but if it decides not to do so, it must inform the Member States concerned of the reasons.

When the Council receives a proposal for closer cooperation from the Commission, it must act by qualified majority after consulting the European Parliament.

For the field of police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters (third pillar), the procedure differs from that used within the framework of the European Community. The new Article 40 of the EU Treaty provides that the initiative for closer cooperation must come from the Member States concerned. Activation is therefore subject to a Council decision by qualified majority. The Commission is asked for its opinion and the Member States’ request is transmitted to the European Parliament.

SAFEGUARD CLAUSE

In both the first and third pillars, launching closer cooperation depends on a decision taken by a qualified majority of the Council. However, the Member States have a safeguard clause allowing any of them to prevent a vote being taken for important reasons of national policy.

The Council, acting by qualified majority, can then send the question to the European Council if the decision falls under the third pillar, or to the Council, in the shape of the heads of state or government, if the decision falls under the first pillar. In both cases, referral requires a unanimous decision.

In this case, the role of the Court of Justice is crucial because it will have to decide on the degree of importance of the reasons of national policy invoked by a Member State. The Court of Justice therefore acts as a guarantee that the safeguard clause is not abused.

OPERATION

For the implementation of closer cooperation, the new Article 44 of the EU Treaty provides that all members of the Council may take part in the deliberations, but that only those representing Member States participating in closer cooperation play a part in adopting decisions.

Any closer cooperation is subject to all the relevant provisions of whichever Treaty it falls under (EU Treaty or EC Treaty). Depending on the subject, decisions are taken under the procedure laid down for the field in question (unanimity, qualified majority vote, codecision or consultation procedures, etc.).

A qualified majority is defined as the same proportion of the weighted votes of the members of the Council concerned as laid down in Article 205(2) (ex Article 148(2)) of the EC Treaty.

It should also be noted that the other institutions involved in the decision-making process (notably the European Parliament and the Commission) do so in their entirety, making no distinction between Member States which are taking part in closer cooperation and those which are not.

SUBSEQUENT PARTICIPATION BY A MEMBER STATE

The basic principle underlying the system is that participation in closer cooperation is open to any Member State, including those that are not involved from the start.

In the Community field, a Member State wishing to join the others must inform the Council and the Commission of its intention. The Commission then delivers its opinion to the Council within three months. A month after giving its opinion, the Commission decides on the matter and on any specific arrangements it considers necessary.

For closer cooperation under the third pillar, the procedure is different from that under the first pillar, although the time limits specified are the same. In addition to its opinion, the Commission may give a recommendation on specific provisions it considers necessary for the Member State to take part in the cooperation in question. It is then for the Council to take the decision. The request is approved unless the Council decides, by qualified majority, to hold it in abeyance. In this case, the Council must give its reasons and set a deadline for the request to be re-examined.

FINANCING

Except for administrative costs, the expenditure arising from closer cooperation is borne by the participating Member States, unless the Council unanimously decides otherwise.

Decision-making procedures

Decision-making procedures

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Decision-making procedures

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Institutional affairs > Building europe through the treaties > The Amsterdam treaty: a comprehensive guide

Decision-making procedures

Treaty on European Union

Human rights and fundamental freedoms

Common foreign and security policy (CFSP)

Police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters

Final provisions

Treaty establishing the European Community

Closer cooperation

Discrimination on grounds of nationality

Discrimination based on sex, racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation
Establishing the single market

Citizenship of the Union

Free movement of goods

Agriculture

Free movement of workers

Right of establishment

Services

Capital and payments

Visas, asylum, immigration and other policies related to free movement of persons
Transport

Rules on competition

Tax provisions

Approximation of laws

Economic policy

Monetary policy

Institutional provisions in the area of economic and monetary policy
Transitional provisions in the area of economic and monetary policy
Employment

Common commercial policy

Customs cooperation

Social provisions

European Social Fund

Education, vocational training and youth

Culture

Public health

Consumer protection

Trans-European networks

Industry

Economic and social cohesion

Research and technological development

Environment

Development cooperation

Association of the overseas countries and territories

Institutional provisions (list not exhaustive)

Financial provisions (list not exhaustive)

General and final provisions (list not exhaustive)

INTRODUCTION

Decision-making in the European Union comprises several different procedures. This means that the different institutions play different roles depending on the subject matter concerned. As a rule, decision-making principally involves three institutions: the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission. However, other institutions and bodies such as the Court of Auditors, the European Central Bank, the Economic and Financial Committee, the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions also play a role in certain specific areas. The various bodies operate within the powers conferred on them by the Treaties.

The description below covers the provisions of both the EU Treaty and the EC Treaty. It is organised by subject, following the title and chapter headings in the Treaties. Bold italics indicate changes introduced by the Amsterdam Treaty, whether in the form of a new provision or the amendment of a decision-making procedure.

TREATY ON EUROPEAN UNION

Human rights and fundamental freedoms

Determining the existence of a serious and persistent breach of the principles on which the European Union is founded (Article 7(1)):

  • proposal by one third of the Member States or the Commission – assent of the European Parliament acting by a two-thirds majority of the votes cast, representing a majority of its members – Council, meeting in the composition of the Heads of State or Government, acting by unanimity (disregarding the vote of the Member State in question).

Decision to suspend certain rights deriving from the application of the Treaty to the Member State in question (Article 7(2)):

  • Council acting by a qualified majority (disregarding the vote of the Member State in question).

Decision to revoke or vary suspension measures taken against a Member State (Article 7(3)):

  • Council acting by a qualified majority (disregarding the vote of the Member State in question).

Common foreign and security policy (CFSP)

Adopting common strategies and setting out their objectives, duration and the means to be made available by the Union and the Member States for their implementation (Article 13):

  • decision by European Council.

Decisions under the common foreign and security policy (Article 23(1)):

  • Council acting unanimously (abstention by a Member State not preventing the adoption of such decisions).

Adopting joint actions and common positions on the basis of a common strategy (Article 23(2), first subparagraph, first indent):

  • Council acting by a qualified majority (with at least 10 members voting in favour).

Adopting any decision implementing a joint action or a common position (Article 23(2), first subparagraph, second indent):

  • Council acting by a qualified majority (with at least 10 members voting in favour).

Referring a decision to the European Council where a member of the Council declares that, for important reasons of national policy, it opposes the adoption of a decision to be taken by qualified majority (Article 23(2), second subparagraph):

  • Council acting by a qualified majority (with at least 10 members voting in favour).

Procedure for concluding an agreement with one or more States or international organisations (Article 24):

  • Council, acting unanimously, may authorise the Presidency, assisted by the Commission, to open negotiations – recommendation from the Presidency – agreement concluded by the Council acting unanimously.

Decision not to charge certain expenditure to the budget of the European Communities (Article 28):

  • Council acting unanimously.

Police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters

Adoption of common positions, framework decisions and decisions (Article 34(2)(a), (b) and (c):

  • initiative of Commission or a Member State – Council acting unanimously.

Adoption of measures necessary for implementing a decision (Article 34(2)(c):

  • Council acting by a qualified majority (with at least 10 members voting in favour).

Adoption of conventions (Article 34(2)(d), first subparagraph, ex Article K.6):

  • initiative of Commission or a Member State – Council acting unanimously – ratification by Member States in accordance with their respective constitutional requirements – conventions, once adopted by at least half of the Member States, enter into force for those Member States.

Adoption of measures implementing conventions (Article 34(2)(d), second subparagraph, ex Article K.6):

  • within the Council by a majority of two-thirds of the Contracting Parties.

Establishing closer cooperation under Title VI (Article 40(2), first subparagraph):

  • at request of Member States concerned – Commission consulted – Council acting by a qualified majority (with at least 10 members voting in favour).

Referring a decision to the European Council where a member of the Council declares that, for important reasons of national policy, it opposes the granting of authorisation for closer cooperation (Article 40(2), second subparagraph):

  • Council acting by a qualified majority (with at least 10 members voting in favour).

Decision not to charge certain expenditure to the budget of the European Communities (Article 41):

  • Council acting unanimously.

Transferring action in areas covered by Title VI of the Treaty on European Union to Title IV of the Treaty establishing the European Community (Article 42, ex Article K.14):

  • initiative of Commission or a Member State – European Parliament consulted – Council acting unanimously – ratification by Member States in accordance with their respective constitutional requirements.

Final provisions

Amending the Treaties on which the European Union is founded (Article 48, ex Article N):

  • proposal from a Member State or the Commission – European Parliament and, where appropriate, Commission consulted (Council and European Central Bank also consulted where changes relate to the monetary area) – Council opinion in favour – conference of representatives of governments of Member States convened by President of Council to determine by common accord the amendments to be made to the Treaties – ratification by Member States in accordance with their respective constitutional requirements.

Accession to the European Union by a European State (Article 49, ex Article O):

  • application from prospective member – Commission consulted – assent of European Parliament – Council acting unanimously – ratification by all the contracting States in accordance with their respective constitutional requirements.

TREATY ESTABLISHING THE EUROPEAN COMMUNITY

Closer cooperation

Authorisation to establish closer cooperation (Article 11(2), first subparagraph):

  • Commission proposal – European Parliament consulted – Council acting by a qualified majority.

Referral to the Council, meeting in the composition of the Heads of State or Government, where a Member State declares that, for important reasons of national policy, it opposes the granting of authorisation for closer cooperation (Article 11(2), second subparagraph):

  • Council acting by a qualified majority (with at least 10 members voting in favour).

Authorisation to establish closer cooperation granted by the Council, meeting in the composition of the Heads of State or Government (Article 11(2), second subparagraph):

  • Council acting unanimously.

Discrimination on grounds of nationality

Adopting rules to prohibit such discrimination (Article 12, ex Article 6):

  • co-decision procedure.

Discrimination based on sex, racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation

Measures necessary to combat all forms of discrimination (Article 13):

  • Commission proposal – European Parliament consulted – Council acting unanimously.

Establishing the single market (see also points 6, 8, 9, 10, 11 and 16)

Determining the guidelines and conditions necessary to ensure balanced progress in all the sectors covered by the four freedoms (Article 14(3), ex Article 7 A):

  • Commission proposal – Council acting by a qualified majority.

Citizenship of the Union

Adopting provisions to facilitate the exercise of Union citizenship rights (Article 18, ex Article 8 A):

  • co-decision procedure with the Council acting unanimously.

Arrangements for exercising the right to vote and to stand as a candidate in municipal elections (Article 19(1), ex Article 8 B):

  • Commission proposal – European Parliament consulted – Council acting unanimously.

Arrangements for exercising the right to vote and to stand as a candidate in elections to the European Parliament (Article 19(2), ex Article 8 B):

  • Commission proposal – European Parliament consulted – Council acting unanimously.

Provisions to strengthen or add to the Union citizenship rights (Article 22, ex Article 8 E):

  • Commission proposal – European Parliament consulted – Council acting unanimously.

Free movement of goods

Fixing Common Customs Tariff duties (Article 26, ex Article 28):

  • Commission proposal – Council acting by a qualified majority.

Agriculture

Adopting regulations, directives, decisions and common market organisation arrangements (Article 37(2) and (3), ex Article 43):

  • Commission proposal – European Parliament consulted – Council acting by a qualified majority.

Free movement of workers

Adopting measures to bring about freedom of movement for workers (Article 40, ex Article 49):

  • co-decision procedure with Economic and Social Committee consulted.

Adopting measures in the field of social security to provide freedom of movement for workers (Article 42, ex Article 51):

  • co-decision procedure with the Council acting unanimously.

Right of establishment

Issuing directives to bring about freedom of establishment (Article 44, ex Article 54):

  • co-decision procedure with Economic and Social Committee consulted.

Exempting certain activities from the provisions of the “Right of establishment” Chapter (Article 45, ex Article 55):

  • Commission proposal – Council acting by a qualified majority.

Directives on coordinating provisions laying down special treatment of foreign nationals on grounds of public policy, public security or public health (Article 46, ex Article 56):

  • co-decision procedure.

Directives for the mutual recognition of diplomas, certificates and other evidence of formal qualifications (Article 47(1), ex Article 57):

  • co-decision procedure.

Directives for the coordination of provisions laid down by law, regulation or administrative action in Member States concerning the taking-up and pursuit of activities as self-employed persons (Article 47(2), ex Article 57):

  • co-decision procedure (with the Council acting unanimously, where implementing the directive requires amendments to be made in at least one Member State to the existing legal principles governing training and conditions of access for natural persons to professions).

Services

Extending the provisions of the “Services” Chapter to service providers who are nationals of a third country, but established within the Community (Article 49, ex Article 59):

  • Commission proposal – Council acting by a qualified majority.

Directives to liberalise a specific service (Article 52, ex Article 63):

  • Commission proposal – Economic and Social Committee and the European Parliament consulted – Council acting by a qualified majority.

Capital and payments

Measures on the movement of capital to or from third countries involving direct investment – including investment in real estate – establishment, the provision of financial services or the admission of securities to capital markets (Article 57, ex Article 73 C):

  • Commission proposal – Council acting by a qualified majority (unanimity required for measures constituting a step back in Community law as regards the liberalisation of the movement of capital).

Safeguard measures where, in exceptional circumstances, movements of capital to or from third countries cause, or threaten to cause, serious difficulties for the operation of economic and monetary union (Article 59, ex Article 73 F):

  • Commission proposal – European Central Bank consulted – Council acting by a qualified majority.

Urgent measures to suspend or reduce economic relations between the European Union and a third country (Article 60(1), ex Article 73 G):

  • Commission proposal – Council acting by a qualified majority.

Amending or abolishing unilateral measures taken by a Member State against a third country (Article 60(2), ex Article 73 G):

  • Commission proposal – Council acting by a qualified majority.

Visas, asylum, immigration and other policies related to free movement of persons

Measures to ensure the absence of any controls on persons, when crossing internal borders (Article 62(1)):

  • Commission proposal or initiative of a Member State – European Parliament consulted – Council acting unanimously (for a transitional period of five years after the entry into force of the Treaty of Amsterdam) / Commission proposal – Council acting unanimously to make a decision about the required procedure (after the transitional period).

Measures on standards and procedures to be followed by Member States in carrying out checks on persons at external borders (Article 62(2)(a)):

  • Commission proposal or initiative of a Member State – European Parliament consulted – Council acting unanimously (for a transitional period of five years after the entry into force of the Treaty of Amsterdam) / Commission proposal – Council acting unanimously to make a decision about the required procedure (after the transitional period).

Adoption of a uniform format for visas and a list of third countries whose nationals must be in possession of visas when crossing the external borders (Article 62(2)(b)(i) and (iii)):

  • Commission proposal – European Parliament consulted – Council acting by a qualified majority.

Establishing the procedures and conditions for issuing visas by Member States and rules on a uniform visa (Article 62(2)(b)(ii) and (iv)):

  • Commission proposal or initiative of a Member State – European Parliament consulted – Council acting unanimously (for a transitional period of five years after the entry into force of the Treaty of Amsterdam) / co-decision (after the transitional period).

Measures setting out the conditions under which nationals of third countries shall have the freedom to travel within the territory of the Member States during a period of no more than three months (Article 62(3)):

  • Commission proposal or initiative of a Member State – European Parliament consulted – Council acting unanimously (for a transitional period of five years after the entry into force of the Treaty of Amsterdam) / Commission proposal – Council acting unanimously to make a decision about the required procedure (after the transitional period).

Measures on asylum (criteria and mechanisms for determining which Member State is responsible for considering an application for asylum, minimum standards on the reception of asylum seekers, conditions for qualifying for refugee status, for granting or withdrawing refugee status) (Article 63(1)):

  • Commission proposal or initiative of a Member State – European Parliament consulted – Council acting unanimously (for a transitional period of five years after the entry into force of the Treaty of Amsterdam) / Commission proposal – Council acting unanimously to make a decision about the required procedure (after the transitional period).

Measures on refugees and displaced persons (granting temporary protection) (Article 63(2)(a)):

  • Commission proposal or initiative of a Member State – European Parliament consulted – Council acting unanimously (for a transitional period of five years after the entry into force of the Treaty of Amsterdam) / Commission proposal – Council acting unanimously to make a decision about the required procedure (after the transitional period).

Measures on refugees and displaced persons (balance of effort between Member States) (Article 63(2)(b)):

  • Commission proposal or initiative of a Member State – European Parliament consulted – Council acting unanimously.

Measures on immigration policy (conditions of entry and residence, and standards on procedures for issuing long-term visas and residence permits) (Article 63(3)(a)):

  • Commission proposal or initiative of a Member State – European Parliament consulted – Council acting unanimously.

Measures on immigration policy (illegal immigration and illegal residence) (Article 63(3)(b)):

  • Commission proposal or initiative of a Member State – European Parliament consulted – Council acting unanimously (for a transitional period of five years after the entry into force of the Treaty of Amsterdam) / Commission proposal – Council acting unanimously to make a decision about the required procedure (after the transitional period).

Measures defining the rights and conditions under which nationals of third countries who are legally resident in a Member State may reside in other Member States (Article 63(4)):

  • Commission proposal or initiative of a Member State – European Parliament consulted – Council acting unanimously.

Provisional measures in an emergency situation characterised by a sudden inflow of nationals of third countries (Article 64):

  • Commission proposal – Council acting by a qualified majority.

Measures in the field of judicial cooperation in civil matters having cross-border implications (Article 65):

  • Commission proposal or initiative of a Member State – European Parliament consulted – Council acting unanimously (for a transitional period of five years after the entry into force of the Treaty of Amsterdam) / Commission proposal – Council acting unanimously to make a decision about the required procedure (after the transitional period).

Measures to ensure cooperation between the relevant departments of the administrations of the Member States, as well as between those departments and the Commission (Article 66):

  • Commission proposal or initiative of a Member State – European Parliament consulted – Council acting unanimously (for a transitional period of five years after the entry into force of the Treaty of Amsterdam) / Commission proposal – Council acting unanimously to make a decision about the required procedure(after the transitional period).

Decision to provide for all or parts of the areas covered by Title IV to be governed by the co-decision procedure after the end of the transitional period and to adapt the provisions relating to the powers of the Court of Justice (Article 67(2), second indent):

  • European Parliament consulted – Council acting unanimously.

Transport

Common rules, conditions under which non-resident carriers may operate transport services within a Member State, safety and other appropriate provisions (Article 71(1), ex Article 75):

  • co-decision procedure with Economic and Social Committee and Committee of the Regions consulted.

Provisions concerning the principles of the regulatory system for transport, the application of which would be liable to have a serious effect on the standard of living and on employment in certain areas and on the operation of transport facilities (Article 71(2), ex Article 75):

  • Commission proposal – European Parliament and Economic and Social Committee consulted – Council acting unanimously.

Rules to abolish discrimination which takes the form of carriers charging different rates and imposing different conditions (Article 75, ex Article 79):

  • Commission proposal – Economic and Social Committee consulted – Council acting by a qualified majority.

Deciding whether, to what extent and by what procedure appropriate provisions may be laid down for sea and air transport (Article 80, ex Article 84):

  • Council acting by a qualified majority.

Rules on competition

Adopting appropriate regulations or directives to give effect to the principles set out in Articles 81 and 82 (Article 83, ex Article 87):

  • Commission proposal – European Parliament consulted – Council acting by a qualified majority.

Derogation whereby State aid that would normally be in breach of Community law is, in exceptional circumstances, considered to be compatible with the common market, :

  • Request by a Member State – Council acting unanimously.

Adopting appropriate regulations for the application of Articles 87 and 88 in respect of State aid (Article 89, ex Article 94):

  • Commission proposal – European Parliament consulted – Council acting by a qualified majority.

Tax provisions

Remissions and repayments for a limited period in respect of exports to other Member States(Article 92, ex Article 98):

  • Commission proposal – Council acting by a qualified majority.

Harmonisation of legislation concerning turnover taxes, excise duties and other forms of indirect taxation (Article 93, ex Article 99):

  • Commission proposal – European Parliament and Economic and Social Committee consulted – Council acting unanimously.

Approximation of laws

Issuing directives for the approximation of such laws, regulations or administrative provisions of the Member States as directly affect the common market (Article 94, ex Article 100):

  • Commission proposal – European Parliament and Economic and Social Committee consulted – Council acting unanimously.

Establishment and functioning of the internal market (Article 95, ex Article 100A):

  • co-decision procedure with Economic and Social Committee consulted.

Special cases where distortion of competition needs to be eliminated (Article 96, ex Article 101):

  • Commission proposal – Council acting by a qualified majority.

Economic policy

Adopting recommendations setting out broad economic policy guidelines (Article 99(2), ex Article 103):

  • Commission recommendation – draft adopted by the Council acting by a qualified majority – report to European Council – conclusion of European Council – on basis of European Council conclusion, recommendation adopted by Council acting by qualified majority.

Recommendations to Member States acting inconsistently with the broad economic policy guidelines (Article 99(4), ex Article 103):

  • Commission recommendation – Council acting by a qualified majority.

Decision to make Council recommendations public (Article 99(4), ex Article 103):

  • Commission proposal – Council acting by a qualified majority.

Possibility of adopting detailed rules for the multilateral surveillance procedure in respect of economic policies (Article 99(5), ex Article 103):

  • cooperation procedure.

Appropriate measures in the event of severe difficulties arising in the supply of certain products (Article 100(1), ex Article 103 A):

  • Commission proposal – Council acting unanimously.

Community financial assistance for a Member State in difficulties caused by exceptional occurrences beyond its control (Article 100(2), ex Article 103 A):

  • Commission proposal – Council acting unanimously (qualified majority where the severe difficulties are cause by natural disasters).

Application of the prohibition on assuming commitments and providing overdraft facilities (Article 103, ex Article 104 B):

  • cooperation procedure.

Establishing the existence of an excessive deficit (Article 104(6), ex Article 104 C):

  • Commission recommendation – Council acting by a qualified majority.

Excessive deficit procedure (Article 104(7)-(9), (11) and (12), ex Article 104 C):

  • Commission recommendation – Council acting by a majority of two-thirds of the weighted votes of its members, excluding the votes of the representative of the Member State concerned..

Amending the Protocol on the excessive deficit procedure (Article 104(14), ex Article 104 C):

  • Commission proposal – European Parliament and European Central Bank consulted – Council acting unanimously.

Monetary policy

Decision conferring upon the ECB specific tasks concerning policies relating to the prudential supervision of credit institutions and other financial institutions with the exception of insurance undertakings (Article 105):

  • Commission proposal – European Central Bank consulted – assent of European Parliament – Council acting unanimously.

Measures to harmonise the denominations and technical specifications of all coins intended for circulation in the Community (Article 106, ex Article 105 A):

  • cooperation procedure with European Central Bank consulted.

Amending the Statute of the European System of Central Banks (ESCB) (Article 107(5), ex Article 106):

  • either: recommendation from European Central Bank – Commission consulted – assent of European Parliament – Council acting by a qualified majority;
  • or: Commission proposal – European Central Bank consulted – assent of European Parliament – Council acting unanimously.

Adoption of certain provisions referred to in the Statute of the European System of Central Banks (ESCB) (Article 107(6), ex Article 107):

  • either: Commission proposal – European Parliament and European Central Bank consulted – Council acting by a qualified majority;
  • or: recommendation from European Central Bank – Commission and European Parliament consulted – Council acting by a qualified majority.

Conclusion of formal agreements on an exchange-rate system for the euro in relation to non-Community currencies (Article 111(1), ex Article 109):

  • Commission or European Central Bank recommendation – Council acting unanimously.

Adopting, adjusting or abandoning the central rates of the euro (Article 111(1), ex Article 109):

  • either: recommendation from European Central Bank – Council acting by a qualified majority;
  • or: Commission recommendation – European Central Bank consulted – Council acting by a qualified majority.

Formulating general orientations in the absence of an exchange-rate system in relation to one or more non-Community currencies (Article 111(2), ex Article 109):

  • either: recommendation from European Central Bank – Council acting by a qualified majority;
  • or: Commission recommendation – European Central Bank consulted – Council acting by a qualified majority.

Arrangements for negotiating and concluding agreements concerning monetary or foreign exchange regime matters (Article 111(3), ex Article 109):

  • Commission recommendation – European Central Bank consulted – Council acting by a qualified majority.

Institutional provisions in the area of economic and monetary policy

Adopting detailed rules on the make-up of the Economic and Financial Committee (Article 114, ex Article 109 C):

  • Commission proposal – European Central Bank and Economic and Financial Committee consulted – Council acting by a qualified majority.

Transitional provisions in the area of economic and monetary policy

Ending derogations for Member States unable to adopt the single currency (Greece and Sweden) from the outset of the third phase (Article 122, ex Article 109 K):

  • Commission proposal- European Parliament consulted – Council, meeting in the composition of the Heads of State or Government, by qualified majority.

Adoption, on 1 January 1999 , of the conversion rates at which the national currencies shall be irrevocably fixed and at which irrevocably fixed rate the ECU shall be substituted for these currencies (Article 123, ex Article 109 L):

  • Commission proposal – European Central Bank consulted – Council acting with the unanimity of those Member States not subject to a derogation.

Employment

Drawing up guidelines for the Member States to take into account in their employment policies (Article 128(2)):

  • conclusions of European Council – Commission proposal – European Parliament, Economic and Social Committee, Committee of the Regions and Employment Committee consulted – Council acting by a qualified majority.

Recommendations to Member States concerning employment policy(Article 128(4)):

  • Commission recommendation – Council acting by a qualified majority.

Adoption of incentive measures designed to encourage cooperation between Member States and to support their action in the field of employment (Article 129):

  • co-decision procedure with Economic and Social Committee and Committee of the Regions consulted.

Common commercial policy

Adopting directives to harmonise the systems for granting aid for exports to third countries (Article 132, ex Article 112):

  • Commission proposal – Council acting by a qualified majority.

Exercising the powers conferred on the Council under Article 133 (Article 133, ex Article 113):

  • Qualified majority.

Extending Article 133 to international negotiations and agreements on services and intellectual property (Article 133(5), ex Article 113):

  • Commission proposal – European Parliament consulted – Council acting unanimously.

Customs cooperation

Measures to strengthen customs cooperation between Member States and between the latter and the Commission (Article 135):

  • co-decision procedure

Social provisions

Adoption of directives laying down minimum requirements in the social field and measures designed to encourage cooperation between Member States (Article 137(2), ex Article 118):

  • co-decision procedure with Economic and Social Committee and Committee of the Regions consulted.

Adoption of measures concerning social security and social protection of workers, protection of workers where their employment contract is terminated, representation and collective defence of the interests of workers and employers, including co-determination, subject to paragraph 6, conditions of employment for third-country nationals legally residing in Community territory and financial contributions for promotion of employment and job-creation, without prejudice to the provisions relating to the Social Fund. (Article 137(3), ex Article 118):

  • Commission proposal – European Parliament, Economic and Social Committee and Committee of the Regions consulted – Council acting unanimously.

Decisions on implementing Community-level agreements between labour and management (Article 139(2), ex Article 118 B):

  • Commission proposal – Council acting by a qualified majority (unanimity where the decisions concerns one of the areas in Article 137(3)).

Adoption of measures to ensure the application of the principle of equal opportunities and equal treatment of men and women in matters of employment and occupation (Article 141(3), ex Article 119):

  • co-decision procedure with Economic and Social Committee consulted.

Assigning to the Commission tasks in connection with the implementation of common measures, particularly as regards social security for the migrant workers (Article 144, ex Article 121):

  • Council acting unanimously after consultation of Economic and Social Committee.

European Social Fund

Adoption of implementing decisions relating to the European Social Fund (Article 148, ex Article 125):

  • co-decision procedure with Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions consulted .

Education, vocational training and youth

Adoption of incentive measures to contribute to the achievement of the Community’s objectives in the field of education (Article 149(4), first indent, ex Article 126):

  • co-decision procedure with Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions consulted.

Adoption of recommendations to contribute to the achievement of the Community’s objectives in the field of education (Article 149(4), second indent, ex Article 126):

  • Commission proposal – Council acting by a qualified majority.

Adoption of measures to contribute to the achievement of the Community’s objectives in the field of vocational training (Article 150, ex Article 127):

  • co-decision procedure with Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions consulted.

Culture

Adoption of incentive measures to contribute to the achievement of the Community’s objectives in the field of culture (Article 151(5), first indent, ex Article 128):

  • co-decision procedure with Committee of the Regions consulted (Council acting unanimously throughout procedure).

Adoption of recommendations to contribute to the achievement of the Community’s objectives in the field of culture (Article 151(5), second indent, ex Article 128):

  • Commission proposal – Council acting unanimously.

Public health

Adoption of measures and incentive measures to contribute to the achievement of the Community’s objectives in the field of public health (including the veterinary and plant health areas) (Article 152(4), ex Article 129):

  • co-decision procedure with Economic and Social Committee and Committee of the Regions consulted.

Adoption of recommendations to contribute to the achievement of the Community’s objectives in the field of public health (Article 152, ex Article 129):

  • Commission proposal – Council acting by a qualified majority.

Consumer protection

Adoption of measures which support, supplement and monitor the policy pursued by the Member States (Article 153(4), ex Article 129 A):

  • co-decision procedure with Economic and Social Committee consulted.

Trans-European networks

Adoption of guidelines and measures to achieve the Community’s objectives in the field of trans-European networks (Article 156, ex Article 129 D):

  • co-decision procedure with Economic and Social Committee and Committee of the Regions consulted (guidelines and projects of common interest which relate to the territory of a Member State require the approval of the Member State concerned).

Industry

Adoption of special measures to support action by the Member States to achieve the objectives of the Community and the Member States in the field of industry (Article 157, ex Article 130):

  • Commission proposal – European Parliament and Economic and Social Committee consulted – Council acting unanimously.

Economic and social cohesion

Specific action proving necessary outside the Funds (Article 159, ex Article 130 B):

  • Commission proposal – European Parliament, Economic and Social Committee and Committee of the Regions consulted – Council acting unanimously.

Defining the tasks, priority objectives and the organisation of the Structural Funds, as well as the general rules applicable to them and the provisions necessary to ensure their effectiveness and their coordination with one another and with the other existing financial instruments (Article 161, ex Article 130 D):

  • Commission proposal – assent of European Parliament – Economic and Social Committee and Committee of the Regions consulted – Council acting unanimously.

Implementing decisions relating to the European Regional Development Fund (Article 162, ex Article 130 E):

  • co-decision procedure with Economic and Social Committee and Committee of the Regions consulted.

Research and technological development

Adoption of multiannual framework programme (Article 166(1), ex Article 130 I):

  • co-decision procedure after Economic and Social Committee consulted (Council acting by qualified majority throughout procedure).

Adoption of specific programmes implementing the multiannual framework programme (Article 166(4), ex Article 130 I):

  • Commission proposal – European Parliament and Economic and Social Committee consulted – Council acting by a qualified majority.

Negotiation and conclusion of research and technological development agreements with third countries and international organisations (Article 170, ex Article 130 M):

  • Article 300 procedure (ex Article 228): Commission recommendations to Council – Council authorises Commission to open and conduct the necessary negotiations in conjunction with the special committees appointed by the Council and in line with directives fixed by the Council – agreement concluded by Council (by qualified majority or unanimously depending on procedure required for the adoption of internal rules).

Setting up joint undertakings or any other structure necessary for the efficient execution of Community research, technological development and demonstration programmes (Article 172, first subparagraph, ex Article 130 O):

  • Commission proposal – European Parliament and Economic and Social Committee consulted – Council acting by a qualified majority.

Decisions on detailed rules implementing the multiannual framework programme and the rules applicable to the supplementary programmes (Article 172, second subparagraph, ex Article 130 O):

  • co-decision procedure with Economic and Social Committee consulted (adoption of supplementary programmes requires agreement of Member States concerned).

Environment

Negotiation and conclusion of agreements between the Community and third countries or international organisations (Article 174, ex Article 130 R):

  • Article 300 procedure (ex Article 228): Commission recommendations to Council – Council authorises Commission to open and conduct the necessary negotiations in conjunction with the special committees appointed by the Council and in line with directives fixed by the Council – agreement concluded by Council (by qualified majority or unanimously depending on procedure required for the adoption of internal rules).

Action to be taken to achieve the Community’s environmental objectives (Article 175(1), ex Article 130 S):

  • co-decision procedure with Economic and Social Committee and Committee of the Regions consulted .

Adoption, by way of derogation from Article 175(1), of fiscal provisions, measures concerning town and country planning, land use, management of water resources and energy supply. (Article 175(2), first subparagraph, ex Article 130 S):

  • Commission proposal – European Parliament, Economic and Social Committee and Committee of the Regions consulted – Council acting unanimously.

Definition of matters referred to in Article 175(2), where decisions must be taken by qualified majority (Article 175(2), second subparagraph, ex Article 130 S):

  • Commission proposal – European Parliament, Economic and Social Committee and Committee of the Regions consulted – Council acting unanimously.

Adoption of general action programmes setting out priority objectives to be attained (Article 175(3), ex Article 130 S):

  • co-decision procedure with Economic and Social Committee and Committee of the Regions consulted.

Implementation of action programmes referred to in Article 175(3) (Article 175(4), ex Article 130 S):

  • as appropriate, either: co-decision procedure with Economic and Social Committee and Committee of the Regions consulted ;
  • or: Commission proposal – European Parliament, Economic and Social Committee and Committee of the Regions consulted, – Council acting unanimously.

Development cooperation

Measures necessary to further the Community’s development cooperation objectives (such as multiannual programmes) (Article 179, ex Article 130 W):

  • co-decision procedure.

Negotiation and conclusion of agreements between the Community and third countries or international organisations (Article 181, ex Article 130 Y):

  • Article 300 procedure (ex Article 228): Commission recommendations to Council – Council authorises Commission to open and conduct the necessary negotiations in conjunction with the special committees appointed by the Council and in line with directives fixed by the Council – agreement concluded by Council (by qualified majority or unanimously depending on procedure required for the adoption of internal rules).

Association of the overseas countries and territories

Establishing provisions on the detailed rules and procedure for the association of the overseas countries and territories of the Community (Article 187, ex Article 136):

  • Council acting unanimously.

Institutional provisions (list not exhaustive)

Establishing a uniform procedure for elections by direct universal suffrage to the European Parliament (Article 190(4), ex Article 138):

  • Council acting unanimously after obtaining assent of European Parliament acting by a majority of its component members – ratification by Member States in accordance with their respective constitutional requirements.

Establishing principles and rules governing executive powers conferred by the Council (Article 202, ex Article 145):

  • Commission proposal – European Parliament consulted – Council acting unanimously.

Fixing the order in which the Member States are to hold the Presidency of the Council (Article 203, second subparagraph, ex Article 146):

  • Council acting unanimously.

Financial provisions (list not exhaustive)

Laying down provisions relating to the system of own resources of the Community (Article 269, ex Article 201):

  • Commission proposal – European Parliament consulted – Council acting unanimously – ratification by Member States in accordance with their respective constitutional requirements.

Adoption of Community budget (Article 272, ex Article 203):

  • Preliminary draft budget submitted to Council by Commission by 1 September – draft budget adopted by Council acting by a qualified majority and placed before European Parliament by 5 October – within 45 days, the European Parliament may amend the draft budget in the case of non-compulsory expenditure or propose modifications in the case of compulsory expenditure – draft budget altered in line with the amendments and modifications accepted or rejected by the Council acting by qualified majority, and then placed before the European Parliament – the European Parliament may, within fifteen days and acting by a majority of its Members and three-fifths of the votes cast, amend or reject the modifications to its amendments (non-compulsory expenditure) made by the Council and adopt the budget accordingly; alternatively the European Parliament, acting by a majority of its Members and two-thirds of the votes cast, may reject the draft budget and ask for a new draft to be submitted to it – the President of the European Parliament declares that the budget has been finally adopted.

Adopting the necessary measures in the fields of the prevention of and fight against fraud affecting the financial interests of the Community with a view to affording effective and equivalent protection in the Member States (without prejudice to the application of national criminal law or the national administration of justice.) (Article 280(4), ex Article 209 A):

  • co-decision procedure with Court of Auditors consulted.

General and final provisions (list not exhaustive)

Laying down the Staff Regulations of officials of the European Communities and the Conditions of Employment of other servants of those Communities (Article 283, ex Article 212):

  • Commission proposal – institutions concerned consulted – Council acting by a qualified majority.

Making changes to the list of products connected with the production of or trade in arms, munitions and war material (Article 296, ex Article 223):

  • Commission proposal – Council acting unanimously.

Adoption of special measures fixing the conditions for applying the Treaty establishing the European Community to the outermost regions (Article 299(2), ex Article 227):

  • Commission proposal – European Parliament consulted – Council acting by a qualified majority.

Adopting the necessary urgent measures where a common position or a joint action adopted according to the provisions of the Treaty on European Union relating to the common foreign and security policy provides for action to interrupt or to reduce economic relations with one or more third countries (Article 301, ex Article 228 A):

  • Commission proposal – Council acting by a qualified majority.