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Rules of Procedure of the European Economic and Social Committee

Rules of Procedure of the European Economic and Social Committee

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Rules of Procedure of the European Economic and Social Committee

Topics

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

Anti-discrimination and relations with civil society

Rules of Procedure of the European Economic and Social Committee

Document or Iniciative

Rules of procedure of the European Economic and Social Committee.

Summary

Article 303 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (EU) confers upon the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) the power to self-regulate. These rules of procedure establish the functioning and organisation of the EESC.

THE MEMBERS

In accordance with Article 300 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU, the Committee consists of representatives of organisations of employers and of the employed. It also includes representatives of civil society, notably in socio-economic, civic, professional and cultural areas.

Moreover, the members are proposed by the governments of the Member States and are appointed by the Council, for five years. Their number cannot exceed 350.

THE COMMITTEE’S CONSTITUENT WORKING BODIES

The bureau

It consists of:

  • the President and the two Vice-Presidents;
  • the three Group Presidents (Group I: employers; Group II: employees; Group III: various economic and social interests);
  • the six section Presidents;
  • a variable number of members, which cannot exceed the number of Member States.

The President is elected from among the members of the three Groups and the Vice-Presidents are elected from among the members of the two Groups to which the President does not belong. They are elected for a period of two years, in accordance with the principle of group rotation.

The Bureau’s chief tasks are as follows:

  • it lays down the organisation and working procedures of the Committee and has political responsibility for its general management;
  • together with the President of the Committee, it exercises the budgetary and financial powers provided for in the Financial Regulation and the Committee’s Articles of Procedure;
  • it lays down the Implementing Provisions of the Rules of Procedure, whose interpretation it clarifies;
  • every six months it examines, on the basis of a report drawn up for this purpose, the action taken on opinions delivered by the Committee.

The Presidency and the President

The Presidency (the President and the two Vice-Presidents) meets with the Group Presidents to prepare the work of the Bureau and the assembly.

The President, elected for two and a half years, directs the work of the Committee. He involves the Vice-Presidents in his activities on a permanent basis. He represents the Committee in its external relations. He reports to the Committee on action and measures taken on its behalf. After his election, he presents his work programme for his term of office at the plenary assembly and presents a review of achievements at the end of his term.

The specialised sections

The Committee comprises six specialised sections:

  • Agriculture, Rural Development and the Environment;
  • Economic and Monetary Union and Economic and Social Cohesion;
  • Employment, Social Affairs and Citizenship;
  • External Relations;
  • Single Market, Production and Consumption;
  • Transport, Energy, Infrastructure and the Information Society.

Other sections may be set up by the plenary assembly on a proposal from the Bureau, in the fields covered by the Treaties. Apart from the President, every member of the Committee must be a member of at least one specialised section and a maximum of two (with exceptions). The members of the sections are appointed by for two and a half years.

The task of the specialised sections is to draw up opinions or information reports on questions referred to them. They may set up from among their members a study group or drafting group or appoint a rapporteur working alone. The rapporteur is responsible for preparing opinions and monitoring action taken on opinions by the European institutions, once the opinion has been adopted in plenary session.

The subcommittees

For some subjects, especially those where different specialised section remits overlap, the Committee may set up ad hoc sub-committees. These subcommittees operate in the same way as the specialised sections and their draft opinions are submitted directly to the Committee for discussion.

The observatories, hearings, experts

The Committee may set up observatories when the nature, extent and specific character of the subject to be dealt with calls for particular flexibility in terms of the working methods, procedures and instruments to be used.

Likewise, if an issue under discussion is of sufficient importance, the various bodies and working units of the Committee may invite guest speakers from outside the Committee to a hearing.

Finally, the President may appoint experts to clarify technical questions posed by the activities.

The consultative commissions

The Committee has the option of setting up consultative commissions. These commissions are made up of members of the Committee and of delegates from areas of civil society that the Committee wishes to involve in its work.

Dialogue between the EU’s social and economic organisations and third countries

Because of its specific mission, the Committee may maintain structured relations with economic and social councils and similar institutions and with civil society organisations in the European Union and third countries. The Committee appoints the delegations responsible for maintaining these relations.

The groups and categories

The Committee is made up of three Groups representing respectively employers, employees and the various other economic and social components of organised civil society. The Groups elect their Presidents and Vice-Presidents. They participate in the preparation, organisation and coordination of the business of the Committee.

  • The Employers’ Group (Group I) has members from private and public sectors of industry, small businesses, chambers of commerce, wholesale and retail trade, banking and insurance, transport and agriculture.
  • The employees’ group (Group II) has members from national trade union organisations, both at the level of confederations and that of sectoral federations.
  • The group including the other components of civil society (Group III) consists of members of farmers’ organisations, consumers’ organisations, small businesses, the crafts sector, liberal professions and NGOs in the field of social protection and environmental protection.

Members of the three groups of the Committee may, on a voluntary basis, form categories representing the various economic and social components of organised civil society in the European Union.

PROCEDURE OF THE COMMITTEE

Consultation of the Committee

The Committee produces opinions requested by the Council, the Commission or the European Parliament.

The Committee may also deliver opinions on its own initiative, information reports or resolutions on any question pertaining to the tasks assigned to the European Union.

Furthermore, the Committee’s opinions set out its position on the issue referred to it. They are generally accompanied by concrete proposals. In its opinions, the Committee defends the interests of civil society in particular, which it represents at European level.

Work of the specialised sections

When an opinion or information report is to be produced, the Bureau designates the specialised section that is to be responsible for preparing the work in question.

The rapporteur, assisted where appropriate by one or more co-rapporteurs and an expert, studies the question referred, collect the views expressed and, on this basis, compile the draft opinion, which is sent to the specialised section for discussion and approval by voting.

Proceedings of the plenary sessions

The Committee meets in plenary assembly during the different sessions (ten sessions each year as a rule). The Committee’s plenary assembly adopts its opinions on the basis of the opinions of the specialised sections and sends them to the Council, the Commission and the European Parliament.

The draft agenda is drawn up by the Bureau on a proposal from the Presidency in collaboration with the Group Presidents. It is sent to all Committee members and to the Council, the Commission and the European Parliament. It is submitted for approval by the assembly before the opening of the relevant session.

Opinions adopted by the Committee and minutes of Committee sessions are sent to the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission. They are published in the Official Journal of the European Union. Regardless of the legal basis for consultation (mandatory or optional referral) the Committee’s opinions are a legally necessary component in the Council’s final decisions.

FINAL PROVISIONS

Methods of voting

Except where otherwise provided, adoption of the texts and decisions of the Committee and its constituent bodies shall be by a majority of the votes. Voting is by open ballot, by recorded vote, or by secret ballot.

The urgency procedure

Where the urgency results from a deadline for the submission of its opinion imposed on the Committee, the urgency procedure may be applied. The President may, immediately and without consulting the Bureau beforehand, take all requisite steps to enable the Committee to carry out its work. He informs the members of the Bureau of the steps which he takes.

Publication and distribution of Committee texts

The Committee publishes its opinions in the Official Journal of the European Union. Likewise, the names of the members of the Committee, its Bureau and its specialised sections are published in the Official Journal.

The Secretary-General of the Committee is responsible for taking the measures necessary to guarantee the public’s right of access to the corresponding documents. Any citizen of the European Union may write to the Committee in one of the official languages and receive a reply written in the same language

Plenary sessions and meetings of the specialised sections are public. Moreover, the members of the European institutions may attend and address meetings of the Committee and its.

This summary is for information only. It is not designed to interpret or replace the reference document, which remains the only binding legal text.

Rules applicable to Institutionalised Public-Private Partnerships

Rules applicable to Institutionalised Public-Private Partnerships

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Rules applicable to Institutionalised Public-Private Partnerships

Topics

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

Internal market > Businesses in the internal market > Public procurement

Rules applicable to Institutionalised Public-Private Partnerships (IPPP)

Document or Iniciative

Commission interpretative communication on the application of Community law on Public Procurement and Concessions to institutionalised PPP (IPPP) [2008/C 91/02 – Official Journal C 91 of 12.4.2008].

Summary

This communication details how Community provisions on public procurement and concessions in the case of institutionalised public-private partnerships (IPPP) * are to be applied. The aim is to enhance legal certainty and to assuage concerns regarding the participation of private partners in IPPP.

Creating an IPPP

An IPPP is generally set up through:

  • the creation of a new entity in which the capital is held jointly by the contracting entity and the private partner and which is assigned public procurement or concessions; or
  • the participation of a private entity in an existing company which has obtained public contracts or concessions in the past.

The contracting entity * must comply with the Community’s legal provisions on public procurement and concessions and in particular follow a fair and transparent procedure, either when selecting the private partner for the IPPP or when granting a public contract or a concession to the public-private entity.

A double tendering procedure (one for selecting the private partner to the IPPP and another one for awarding public contracts or concessions to the public-private entity) is not considered practical. However, one possible way of avoiding a double tendering procedure is by selecting a private partner for the IPPP by means of a transparent and competitive procedure, the subject of which is both the public contract and concession attributed to the IPPP and the partner’s operational contribution to the IPPP.

Applicable Regulation

There are no specific rules governing the creation of an IPPP in Community law. However, the principles of fair treatment and the prohibition of discrimination on grounds of nationality derived from Article 43 of the Treaty establishing the European Community (EC Treaty) on freedom of establishment and from Article 49 EC on the freedom to provide services apply to the fields of public procurement and concessions.

Rules applicable to the selection process of a private partner are different depending on whether or not the public procurement or the concession is covered by the so-called “traditional” Directive (2004/18/CE: on public works contracts, public supply contracts and public service contracts) and/or the Directive on “special sectors” (2004/17/CE on public procurement in the water, energy, transport and postal services sectors).

  • If the public-private entity’s task is to carry out a public contract fully covered by the Public Procurement Directives, the procedure for selecting the private partner is determined by these same Directives.
  • If it relates to a public procurement or concession partially covered by these Directives, the rules derived from the EC Treaty apply in addition to the relevant provisions of these Directives.
  • In the case of a public procurement or a concession not being covered by the Directives, the selection of the private partner must comply with the principles of the EC Treaty.

The contracting entity must publicise the selection and award criteria for identifying the private partner for the IPPP. The criteria used must comply with the principle of equal treatment. The Public Procurement Directives specify requirements related to the personal capacity of the private partner, such as the personal situation of the candidate, his economic and financial standing, his technical ability, etc. Such criteria may also be used in the context of concessions and public contracts not fully covered by the Public Procurement Directives.

The principles of equal treatment and non-discrimination imply an obligation of transparency which consists in ensuring for any potential tenderer a degree of advertising sufficient to enable the market to be opened up to competition. In the context of an IPPP, the contracting entity should include in the contract notice or the contract documents basic information on the following: the public contracts and/or concessions which are to be awarded, the statutes and articles of association, the shareholder agreement and all other elements governing the contractual relationship between the contracting entity and the public-private entity before being created.

Subsequent modifications

The principle of transparency also requires the disclosure in the tender documents of optional renewals or modifications of the public contract or concessions, as well as the disclosure of optional assignments of additional tasks. The information provided should be sufficiently detailed, in order to ensure fair and effective competition.

The IPPP must remain within the scope of its initial activity and cannot obtain any further public contracts or concessions without a procurement procedure. However, the IPPP must be able to adjust to changes in the economic, legal or technical environment. An adjustment is possible on the condition that it complies with the principles of equal treatment and transparency. Any changes to the essential terms of a contract, not provided for in the initial tender documents, require a new procurement procedure.

Context

The public consultation undertaken at the time of the publication of the Green Paper on Public-Private Partnerships and Community law on public contracts and concessions showed the need for clarification on the Community’s legal provisions applicable to institutionalised public-private partnerships (IPPP). In effect, the perceived lack of legal certainty could undermine the success of such projects and dissuade public authorities and private entities from creating an IPPP.

Key terms of the Act

  • Institutionalised Public-Private Partnerships (IPPP): co-operation between public and private parties involving the establishment of a mixed capital entity which performs public contracts or concessions. The private input to the IPPP consists, apart from the contribution of capital or other assets, in the active participation in the operation of the contracts awarded to the public-private entity and/or the management of the public-private entity. Simple capital injections made by private investors into publicly owned companies do not constitute IPPP.
  • Contracting entity: the State, public services, bodies governed by public law and associations formed by one or more of these services or one or more of these bodies governed by public law.

Rules for the application of the European Regional Development Fund

Rules for the application of the European Regional Development Fund

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Rules for the application of the European Regional Development Fund

Topics

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

Agriculture > General framework

Rules for the application of the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the European Social Fund (ESF) and the Cohesion Fund (2007-2013)

Document or Iniciative

Commission Regulation (EC) No 1828/2006 of 8 December 2006 setting out rules for the implementation of Council Regulation (EC) No 1083/2006 laying down general provisions on the European Regional Development Fund, the European Social Fund and the Cohesion Fund and of Regulation (EC) No 1080/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council on the European Regional Development Fund [See amending act(s)].

Summary

This Regulation lays down rules for the application of:

  • Regulation (EC) No 1083/2006 on the European Regional Development (ERDF), the European Social Fund (ESF) and the Cohesion Fund;
  • Regulation (EC) No 1080/2006 on the ERDF.

This Regulation establishes all the rules for publishing and communicating information relating to projects funded by these Funds. In addition, it defines the rules aimed at ensuring the Funds are properly used, particularly with regard to the monitoring systems put in place by the Member States and the procedures for cases of irregularity.

Lastly, the Regulation establishes the provisions relating to certain specific aspects of the Funds, such as the financial engineering instruments and the eligibility expenditure on housing.

Information and publicity: the communication plan

In accordance with Regulation No 1083/2006, Member States shall establish operational programmes. These programmes define the development strategies based on funding from the structural Funds.

With transparency in mind, the operational programmes must be the subject of a communication plan. The communication plans are established by the Member States or the management authorities responsible for operational programmes. These plans are aimed at:

  • beneficiaries and potential beneficiaries in order to widely disseminate information on the possibility of funding and the procedures to follow;
  • the public, in order to improve the communication of the role played by the European Union (EU) in the financing of programmes which aim to improve economic competitiveness, job creation and internal cohesion.

Furthermore, the communication plans include:

  • the aims and target groups;
  • the strategy and content of the information and publicity measures to be taken by the Member State or the managing authority;
  • the indicative budget for implementation of the plan;
  • the administrative departments or bodies responsible for implementation of the communication plan;
  • the means for evaluating the information and publicity measures.

Alongside the dissemination of information, this Regulation defines the responsibilities and roles of each of the stakeholders involved, specifically:

  • the rules allowing the Member States to submit to the Commission information on the use of the Funds, as well as information on the allocation of the Funds throughout the life of a programme;
  • the rules enabling the Commission to inform the other Institutions and the citizens of the European Union on the use of the Funds;
  • the obligations which the managing authorities should have with regard to beneficiaries in the phase leading to the selection and approval of the operations to be funded;
  • the obligations of the managing authorities with regard to the aspects which the verifications of the expenditure declared by the beneficiary should cover. This includes administrative verifications of the applications for reimbursement, and on-the-spot verifications of individual operations;
  • the provisions relating to personal data and the exchange of data electronically.

To ensure exchanges of good practice and experience, European networks may be set up, comprising the contact persons responsible for information and publicity, as designated by each managing authority.

Management and control systems

The general provisions on the ERDF, the ESF and the Cohesion Fund provide that Member States submit to the Commission a description of the management and control systems and a report setting out the results of an assessment of their introduction.

The Commission relies on these documents to satisfy itself that the financial assistance concerned is used by the Member States in accordance with the applicable rules necessary for protecting the EU’s financial interests. This is why the present Regulation sets out in detail the information that such documents should contain.

Furthermore, this Regulation lays down specific rules concerning:

  • intermediate bodies, managing authorities and certifying authorities;
  • audits of operations;
  • the description and assessment of management and control systems;
  • the conditions to be observed when on-the-spot verifications are carried out on a sample basis;
  • the information which should be included in the accounting records and audit trails.

Irregularities

Member States must report to the Commission any irregularities which have been the subject of a primary administrative or judicial finding. They then inform it of the procedures instituted with respect to all irregularities previously notified and of important changes resulting from them.

Each Member State is to report to the Commission and to the other Member States concerned any irregularities discovered or supposed to have occurred, where it is feared that they may very quickly have repercussions outside its territory or they show that a new malpractice has been employed.

Financial corrections

Where a Member State does not maintain an agreed target level of public structural expenditure during the programming period, no financial correction should be applied if the difference between the agreed target level and the level achieved is equal to or less than 3 % of the agreed target level (de minimis threshold).

Financial engineering instruments

This Regulation lays down general and specific provisions applicable to all financial engineering instruments. Financial engineering instruments take the form of actions which make repayable investments in enterprises, particularly small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), and in public-private partnerships. When the Structural Funds finance operations comprising financial engineering instruments, a business plan must be submitted by the cofinancing partners or shareholders.

Provisions implementing Regulation (EC) No 1080/2006

The present Regulation lays down specific rules concerning the eligibility of expenditure on housing and the eligibility of operational programmes for the European territorial cooperation objective.

Context

The ERDF and the ESF (“Structural Funds”) and the Cohesion Fund cofinance projects implemented at regional and local level. The structural funds particularly aim at increasing economic competitiveness, improving employment and strengthening social and economic cohesion between the European regions.

References

Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal

Regulation (EC) No 1828/2006

7.3.2007

OJ L 45, 15.2.2007

Amending Act(s) Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal

Regulation (EC) No 846/2009

13.10.2009

OJ L 250, 23.9.2009

Regulation (EC) No 832/2010

23.9.2010

OJ L 248, 22.9.2010

Rules of procedure of the Council of the European Union

Rules of procedure of the Council of the European Union

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Rules of procedure of the Council of the European Union

Topics

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

Other

Rules of procedure of the Council of the European Union

The Council of the European Union, usually referred to simply as “the Council”, is a Community institution. It is the Union’s legislator, together with the European Parliament, and delegates implementation of legislative acts to the Commission. The Council also coordinates the Member States’ general economic policies. Its decisions are generally adopted by a simple majority of its members. The various Council configurations consist of one ministry representative from each Member State. The Presidency of the Council is held for six months by each Member State on a rotating basis. The Council’s rules of procedure contain the provisions necessary for its organisation and functioning.

Document or Iniciative

Council Decision (2004/338/EC, Euratom) of 22 March 2004 adopting the Council’s Rules of Procedure [See amending acts].

Summary

These rules of procedure concern the functioning and organisation of the Council of the European Union, which is granted the power of self-regulation by Article 207(3) of the EC Treaty. The current edition of the Rules of Procedure, which came into force on 23 March 2004, contains 28 articles, accompanied by 5 annexes.

ORGANISATION OF THE COUNCIL

The Council is organised around four structures: the Council configurations, the presidency, Coreper (the Permanent Representatives Committee) and the secretary-general with the general secretariat.

From a legal standpoint, the European Council is also a Council configuration. It does not have any rules of procedure since it does not have the status of a Community institution. One of the proposals in the European Constitution, currently being ratified, is to give the European Council this status.

The European Council

The European Council is the meeting of the Heads of State or Government of the EU Member States. Its purpose is to give the Union the necessary impetus for development and to establish broad policy guidelines. It meets at least twice a year under the same presidency as that of the Council of the EU. The president of the European Commission attends ex officio.

The Council configurations

The Council may meet in different configurations according to the subject matter dealt with. Each configuration consists of a ministry representative from each Member State who is empowered to commit his government in respect of the decisions taken. The list of configurations is drawn up by the General Affairs and External Relations Council, the only one that is established by the rules of procedure. There are currently nine configurations, which are listed in Annex to the Rules of Procedure:

  • General Affairs and External Relations, including European Security and Defence Policy and development cooperation;
  • Economic and Financial Affairs, including the budget;
  • Justice and Home Affairs, including civil protection;
  • Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs;
  • Competitiveness (Internal Market, Industry and Research), including tourism;
  • Transport, Telecommunications and Energy;
  • Agriculture and Fisheries;
  • Environment;
  • Education, Youth and Culture, including audiovisual policy

It is for each Member State to determine the way in which it is represented in the Council. Several Ministers may participate as full members of the same Council configuration. In the case of the General Affairs and External Relations Council, each government is represented by the Minister or State Secretary of its choice.

The General Affairs and External Relations Council covers the following two areas of activity, for which it holds separate meetings, with separate agendas and sometimes on different dates:

  • The General Affairs Council meeting deals with preparation for and follow-up to the European Council meetings, including coordination of the preparatory work, overall coordination of policies, institutional and administrative questions, horizontal dossiers and any dossier entrusted to it by the European Council. At this meeting the General Affairs Council proposes a three-year strategic programme to the European Council, based on a joint proposal drawn up by the Presidencies concerned in consultation with the Commission. The draft agenda for the European Council is also drawn up at this meeting.
  • The External Relations Council meeting deals with common foreign and security policy (CFSP), European security and defence policy (ESDP), foreign trade, development cooperation and humanitarian aid. Generally speaking, no other configuration or preparatory committee may meet between this meeting and the European Council meeting.

The other Council configurations must submit their contributions for the European Council to the General Affairs Council not later than two weeks before the meeting.

The Presidency of the Council of the EU

The Presidency of the Council is held for six months by each Member State on a rotating basis. It is the driving force in carrying out the Council’s work. In December of each year the two countries that are to hold the Presidency in the following year must jointly present a draft annual programme. The incoming Presidency must also draw up the provisional agenda for the meetings scheduled during its term of office.

The Presidency also ensures that the rules of procedure are properly applied and that discussions are conducted in a businesslike manner. It can also, if necessary, restrict the numbers present, determine the duration of discussions, and request common positions and written contributions.

The Presidency can also represent the Council before the European Parliament. With the Presidency’s agreement, the Council may also be represented by the Secretary-General.

Coreper, committees and working parties

Coreper, the committee of the permanent representatives of each Member State or their deputies, is responsible for preparing the work of the Council and for carrying out the tasks assigned to it by the Council. It is chaired by the representative of the Member State which holds the Presidency of the Council. It ensures the consistency of the EU’s policies and actions and sees to it that the following principles and rules are observed:

  • the principles of legality, subsidiarity, proportionality and providing reasons for acts;
  • the rules establishing the powers of Union institutions and bodies;
  • the budgetary provisions;
  • the rules on procedure, transparency and the quality of drafting (the Council’s legal service is responsible for checking the drafting quality of legislative acts).

Coreper must examine in advance all the items on the agenda for a Council meeting. It must endeavour to reach an agreement, which is then submitted to the Council for adoption. If an agreement is reached, the item is included in Part A of the agenda for approval by the Council without discussion (see “Agenda”). Coreper may set up committees or working groups to carry out preparatory tasks or studies.

Coreper may also adopt certain procedural decisions, provided that the related item is included on its agenda. These include the decision on the venue for a meeting, the decision to hold a public debate, the decision to make the results of votes public, the decision to use the written procedure, the decision to publish a text in the Official Journal or to consult an institution or body.

The Secretary-General and the General Secretariat

The General Secretariat assists in organising, coordinating, monitoring and ensuring the coherence of the Council’s work as well as in implementing its annual programme. It is placed under the responsibility of the Secretary-General, who is also the High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy , and of the deputy Secretary-General, both of whom are appointed by the Council acting by qualified majority. They also draw up the draft estimate of the Council’s expenditure and administer its appropriations.

FUNCTIONING OF THE COUNCIL

Some of the Rules of Procedure deal with its internal functioning: notice of meetings, seat, agenda, meetings, quorum and voting procedures. The Rules of Procedure also provide for use of the written procedure for urgent matters and notification of acts.

Notice of meetings and seat

The Council meets when convened by its President. The provisional dates for meetings are made known by the Presidency seven months before the beginning of its term of office. The Council has its seat in Brussels, but holds its meetings in Luxembourg in April, June and October. Meetings can be held elsewhere by a unanimous decision of the Council or of Coreper.

Sessions

Meetings of the Council are not public except in the cases provided for in the Rules of Procedure (see “Deliberations open to the public”). The Commission is invited to take part in meetings, as is the European Central Bank (ECB) in cases where it exercises its right of initiative. The Council may, however, decide to deliberate without the presence of the Commission or of the European Central Bank.

Agenda

The provisional agenda for each meeting is drawn up by the President and sent to the members at least 14 days before the meeting. Each item must be accompanied by the necessary documentation. If this documentation is not ready, the item is not entered on the provisional agenda. The agenda is adopted by the Council at the beginning of the meeting. Votes may be taken only on items identified by an asterisk.

The agenda is divided into Part A and Part B. Part A contains the items for which approval by the Council is possible without discussion. However, statements may still be made for entry in the minutes. If a position taken on an A item might lead to further discussion or if a member of the Council or the Commission so requests, this item is withdrawn from the agenda.

Items relating to police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters may not be placed on the agenda for adoption unless six weeks have elapsed since the proposal was sent to the national parliaments.

Quorum and voting procedure

The quorum must be checked before a vote is taken. It requires the presence of a majority of members. Decision 2004/701/EC adds that where a decision requires a qualified majority, a member of the Council may request a check that this majority represents at least 62% of the EU population.

The Council votes on the initiative of its President, who is bound to open a voting procedure if a member of the Council or the Commission proposes, provided that a majority of the members agree. Voting is in the order laid down by the Council acting unanimously, beginning with the member who, according to that order, follows the member holding the office of President.

Written procedure

Acts of the Council on urgent matters may be adopted by a written vote. It is for Coreper to decide unanimously to use that procedure. The President may also propose that it be used, and all the members of the Council must agree. The Council may also act, on the initiative of the Presidency, by simplified written procedure (COREU) in areas covered by the CFSP. In that case the proposal is deemed adopted if, after a given period, no member has objected.

Notification of acts

Directives and decisions not published in the Official Journal (OJ) are notified to their addressees by the Secretary-General or the Deputy Secretary-General, as are:

  • recommendations;
  • common strategies, joint actions and common positions under the CFSP;
  • common positions in the field of police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters;
  • measures implementing acts under the CFSP and in the field of police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters.

PUBLICITY FOR THE COUNCIL’S PROCEEDINGS

Deliberations open to the public

In principle, the deliberations of the Council are covered by the obligation of professional secrecy; they are not public. However, when it is deliberating on acts to be adopted in accordance with the codecision procedure, the discussion is open to the public as follows:

  • for the presentation by the Commission of its most important legislative proposals and the ensuing debate in the Council;
  • for the final Council deliberations leading to the vote, the vote itself and the accompanying explanations.

In addition the General Affairs and External Relations Council in its general affairs configuration holds a public policy debate once a year on the Council’s operational programme or, if appropriate, on the Commission’s work programme. These public sessions are also broadcast by audiovisual means. At least once a year the Council must hold a public debate on important new legislative proposals.

Making public votes, explanations and statements

Results of votes, explanations of votes and statements are made public in connection with:

  • the Council’s legislative activity;
  • the adoption of common positions;
  • the meeting of a conciliation committee;
  • the establishment of a convention in the field of police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters.

Only the results of votes are made public where:

  • the Council acts in the CFSP field and the Council or Coreper has so decided unanimously;
  • the Council adopts a common position in the field of police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters, by a unanimous Council or Coreper decision;
  • the Council or Coreper so decides in other cases.

Publication of acts in the Official Journal

Not all Council acts are public. The following are published in the Official Journal:

  • regulations, directives and decisions;
  • Council common positions and the reasons underlying them;
  • framework decisions and decisions adopted unanimously in the field of police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters;
  • conventions which it recommends that Member States adopt in accordance with their respective constitutional requirements in the field of police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters. Reference to the entry into force of such conventions is also made in the OJ;
  • conventions signed between Member States;
  • international agreements concluded by the Community. Reference to their entry into force is also made in the OJ;
  • international agreements concluded under the CFSP, with a reference to their date of entry into force.

Unless the Council or Coreper decides otherwise, the following are also published in the OJ:

  • initiatives presented to the Council by a Member State in the field of police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters;
  • common positions in the field of police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters;
  • directives and decisions not adopted by the codecision procedure, recommendations and opinions.

For common strategies, joint actions and common positions under the CFSP, the Council or Coreper decide unanimously on a case-by-case basis whether they should be published in the OJ. Decisions are also taken on a case-by-case basis as regards the publication of:

  • measures implementing joint actions under the CFSP;
  • joint actions, common positions or any other decision adopted on the basis of a common strategy (CFSP);
  • any measures implementing decisions and any measures implementing conventions in the field of police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters;
  • other Council acts such as sui generis decisions and resolutions.

Access to Council documents

The specific provisions on public access to Council documents are contained in Annex II to the rules of procedure.

References

Act

Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Council Decision 2004/338/EC and rules of procedure

23.3.2004

OJ L 106 of 15.4.2004

Amending act(s)

Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Decision 2004/701/EC

1.11.2004

OJ L 319 of 20.10.2004

This fact sheet is not legally binding on the European Commission. It does not claim to be exhaustive and does not represent an official interpretation of the text of the Treaty.

Rules of Procedure of the European Council

Rules of Procedure of the European Council

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Rules of Procedure of the European Council

Topics

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

Institutional affairs > The institutions bodies and agencies of the union

Rules of Procedure of the European Council

Document or Iniciative

European Council Decision 2009/882/EU of 1 December 2009 adopting its Rules of Procedure.

Summary

The European Council shall consist of the Heads of State or Government of the Member States of the European Union (EU), its President and the President of the European Commission. The High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy shall also take part in its work.

The European Council has a role in driving policy. It defines the priorities for the building of Europe and indicates the directions that European policies should take.

Preparation for European Council meetings

The President of the European Council establishes an agenda, as well as guidelines and draft decisions for the European Council. These documents are first sent to the General Affairs Council. In order to prepare said documents, the President of the European Council must act in close collaboration with the President of the Commission and the member of the European Council representing the Member State that is exercising the Presidency of the Council.

The documents are then debated at the General Affairs Council. The latter also receives contributions from other Council configurations. The General Affairs Council establishes a provisional agenda at a final session, preceding the date of the European Council meeting by five days.

The European Council sets the final agenda at the start of its meeting.

Conduct of European Council meetings

Meetings are held in Brussels except in exceptional circumstances. The European Council meets twice every six months, convened by its President. The President may also convene an extraordinary session if necessary. When the agenda so requires, the members of the European Council may decide each to be accompanied by a minister and, in the case of the President of the Commission, by a member of the Commission.

The Members of the European Council take decisions by consensus except where the Treaties provide otherwise. Before voting, the President of the European Council must check the quorum. The quorum must include at least two-thirds of the members of the European Council. The President of the European Council and the President of the Commission are not, however, included in the quorum. In addition, they do not hold voting rights within the European Council.

Furthermore, tThe President of the European Parliament may be invited to be heard by the European Council. Similarly, meetings with the representatives of third States, international organisations or other persons may be held outside the European Council.

Publication of European Council work, publication and notification of Acts

Meetings of the European Council are not public. Nevertheless, the European Council may decide to make the results of votes public, as well as explanations of the voting, if applicable.

After each meeting, the General Secretariat of the European Council has to produce minutes including:

  • details of documents submitted to the European Council;
  • details of approved conclusions;
  • decisions taken;
  • declarations made by the European Council and those included on request from a Member of the European Council.

In addition, if the European Council adopts decisions that do not specify to whom they are addressed, such decisions are to be published in the Official Journal of the EU. If the decisions adopted concern a specific addressee, they must be served on said addressee.

Representation of the European Council before the European Parliament

The President presents a report to Parliament after each meeting of the European Council. Furthermore, the member representing the Member State that is exercising the Presidency of the Council shall present to Parliament the priorities and results achieved during the six-month period.

General Secretariat

The European Council and its President shall be assisted by a General Secretariat, under the responsibility of a Secretary-General. The latter attends European Council meetings. In particular, the Secretary-General participates in drawing up the minutes of meetings and has to notify addressees European Council decisions. The Secretary-General is also responsible for managing the budget granted to the European Council.

This summary is for information only. It is not designed to interpret or replace the reference document, which remains the only binding legal text.

Rules of Procedure of the General Court

Rules of Procedure of the General Court

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Rules of Procedure of the General Court

Topics

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

Institutional affairs > The institutions bodies and agencies of the union

Rules of Procedure of the General Court

Document or Iniciative

Rules of Procedure of the General Court.

Summary

The Rules of Procedure lay down the provisions relating to the internal organisation of the General Court and the arrangements for proceedings brought before it. In particular, the Court is responsible for dealing with:

  • direct appeals lodged by natural and legal persons and those directed against acts by Union institutions, bodies and organisations;
  • appeals lodged by Member States against the European Commission or the Council;
  • appeals relating to the Community trade mark;
  • appeals against decisions by the EU Civil Service Tribunal.

Organisation of the Court

The Court is organised in the following way:

  • composition of the Court: the Court comprises 27 members and one judge per Member State. They elect the President of the Court for a 3-year period. The President is responsible for directing the business and services of the Court, presides at hearings and deliberations in closed session and deals with applications for interim measures.
  • constitution of the chambers and designation of Judge-Rapporteurs: the Court consists of chambers composed of three and five judges. These chambers are responsible for managing the cases assigned to them. A Judge-Rapporteur is designated to handle each case. The judges elect the presidents of the chambers.
  • role of the Registrar: the Registrar, appointed by the Court for a 6-year period, is responsible for assisting the Court, the President, and the judges in all their duties. The Registrar is responsible for the Court’s archives and publications.
  • working of the Court: the Court deliberates in closed session. The conclusions reached by the majority of the Judges after the deliberations determine the decision of the Court.
  • languages: the applicant has the option to choose the language of the case from the twenty-three official languages of the Union.
  • rights and obligations of agents, advisers and lawyers: these persons enjoy immunity in respect of words spoken or written by them. Papers and documents relating to the proceedings are exempt from both search and seizure.

Characteristics of the procedures

The procedures of the Court may include all or some of the stages listed below:

  • written procedure: this involves an exchange of pleas between the parties. The application must contain information relating to the name and address of the applicant, the designation of the opposing party, the subject-matter of the proceedings, the form of order and the nature of any evidence. The original copy of the application must be signed by the agent or lawyer of the applicant. The defendant must lodge a defence within the following two months, containing the defendant’s name and address, the arguments relied on, the form of order and the nature of any evidence.
  • the oral procedure takes place during a hearing. The proceedings are opened and directed by the President, who puts questions to the agents, advisers and lawyers of the parties. The parties may not plead on their own behalf. They must be represented by an agent or a lawyer. At the end of these proceedings, the Registrar draws up the minutes.
  • the measures of inquiry and the examination of witnesses concern the appearance of the parties, the request for information and production of documents, the witness testimony, the expert’s report, and an inspection of the place in question. Certain facts are proved by the witnesses. The latter are summoned by the Court, possibly at the request of the parties.

Legal aid may be granted specifically to cover costs relating to legal assistance and representation before the Court.

Special forms of procedure

Because an action for annulment does not have suspensory effect, an application to suspend the operation of a contested measure may be made by the applicant if it brings an action before the Court. In particular, the application for suspension must specify the subject-matter of the proceedings and the circumstances giving rise to the urgency, which justify the suspension sought.

If s/he presents the interest required, an intervener may take part in proceedings already taking place before the Court. In this case, s/he must first present an application to intervene, identifying the case and the principal parties, and presenting the circumstances establishing the right to intervene.

Seised on appeal, the Court of Justice can set aside a judgment or an order of the Court. If a decision of the Court is set aside, the Court may be seised again by the referral order.

In the case of third-party proceedings, namely an application to the judge to rule again on a case which has already received a judgment, they can be requested within two months following publication of the judgment in the Official Journal. A revision of the judgment may also be required in the case of an error.

Handling of disputes relating to intellectual property rights

This type of dispute concerns appeals to the Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market (OHIM) concerning the application of rules relating to intellectual property rights.

Interveners other than the applicant may intervene during the course of the proceedings and shall have the same rights as the principal parties.

Handling of appeals against decisions of the European Civil Service Tribunal

The General Court is responsible for handling appeals against decisions of the Civil Service Tribunal. For this type of appeal, an application is lodged with the Registry of the General Court or of the Civil Service Tribunal. The language of the proceedings is that of the Civil Service Tribunal decision which is the subject of the appeal.

The appeal includes the following information:

  • name and address of the applicant;
  • designation of the other parties;
  • the pleas and supporting arguments in law;
  • the form of order sought by the applicant.

The parties may present their case, which may lead to either the rejection of the appeal or to the annulment of the Civil Service Tribunal decision.

References

Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal
Rules of Procedure of the Court of First Instance of the European Communities

1.7.1991

OJ L 136, 30.5.1991

Amending Act(s) Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal

Amendments to the Rules of Procedure of the Court of First Instance of the European Communities

1.11.1994

OJ L 249, 24.9.1994

Amendments to the Rules of Procedure of the Court of First Instance of the European Communities

1.4.1995

OJ L 44, 28.2.1995

Amendments to the Rules of Procedure of the Court of First Instance of the European Communities

1.9.1995

OJ L 172, 22.7.1995

Amendments to the Rules of Procedure of the Court of First Instance of the European Communities

1.6.1997

OJ L 103, 19.4.1997

Court of First Instance of the European Communities Amendments to the Rules of Procedure of the Court of First Instance of the European Communities aimed at enabling the Court to act in a formation of one judge of 17 May 1999

17.5.1999

OJ L 135, 29.5.1999

Amendments to the Rules of Procedure of the Court of First Instance of the European Communities

1.2.2001

OJ L 322, 19.12.2000

Amendments to the Rules of Procedure of the Court of First Instance of the European Communities following the entry into force of the Nice Treaty

1.8.2003

OJ L 147, 14.6.2003

Decision 2004/406/EC

19.4.2004

OJ L 132, 29.4.2004

Amendments to the Rules of Procedure of the Court of First Instance of the European Communities

1.1.2006

OJ L 298, 15.11.2005

Decision 2006/956/EC

1.1.2007

OJ L 386, 29.12.2006

Amendments to the Rules of Procedure of the Court of First Instance of the European Communities

1.9.2008

OJ L 179, 8.7.2008

Decision 2009/170/EC

1.5.2009

OJ L 60, 4.3.2009

Amendments to the Rules of Procedure of the Court

13.4.2010

OJ L 92, 13.4.2010

Amendments to the Rules of Procedure of the Court

1.7.2011

OJ L 162, 22.6.2011

Successive amendments and corrections to the Rules of Procedure of the Court of First Instance of the European Communities have been incorporated into the original text. This consolidated version (FR ) is for reference only.

RELATED ACTS

Council Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 904/2012 of 24 September 2012 amending Regulation No 422/67/EEC, No 5/67/Euratom determining the emoluments of the President and Members of the Commission, of the President, Judges, Advocates-General and Registrar of the Court of Justice of the Communities, of the President, Members and Registrar of the Court of First Instance and of the President, Members and Registrar of the European Union Civil Service Tribunal [Official Journal L 269 of 4.10.2012].

Rules of Procedure of the European Union Civil Service Tribunal

Rules of Procedure of the European Union Civil Service Tribunal

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Rules of Procedure of the European Union Civil Service Tribunal

Topics

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

Institutional affairs > The institutions bodies and agencies of the union

Rules of Procedure of the European Union Civil Service Tribunal

Document or Iniciative

Rules of Procedure of the European Union Civil Service Tribunal.

Summary

The European Union (EU) Civil Service Tribunal adopts its Rules of Procedure in agreement with the Court of Justice of the EU and after approval from the Council.

These Rules of Procedure establish the organisation and functioning of the Civil Service Tribunal. In particular, they detail the legal procedures and establish their modalities.

Competences

The Civil Service Tribunal has jurisdiction to rule at first instance on cases between the EU and its agents. For example, these cases may concern questions relating to employment or social security.

Furthermore, the Civil Service Tribunal also has jurisdiction in disputes between any organisation and its personnel, where the statutes of the organisation concerned provide for the jurisdiction of the Court of Justice of the EU. For example, this applies to disputes within Europol or the European Investment Bank.

Composition

The Civil Service Tribunal is composed of seven judges, appointed by the Council for a renewable six-year period. Judges must carry out their duties with complete impartiality and independence.

The judges elect one of their number as President of the Tribunal for a renewable three-year period. The President directs the judicial business and services of the Tribunal.

A Registrar is also appointed by the judges for a renewable six-year period. The Registrar is responsible for the Tribunal’s archives and publications. S/he is also responsible for assisting the judges and the President of the Tribunal in the performance of their functions.

Formation of the Tribunal

When hearing a case, the Tribunal sits in a chamber of three judges.

However, a case may be referred to a chamber of five judges or a full court where justified by the importance or difficulty of the questions of law raised by the case.

Conversely, a case may be referred to a single judge if the questions of law or fact raised present little difficulty, or if the case is of limited importance.

Procedure

Proceedings brought before the Civil Service Tribunal have a written part and an oral part.

During the written part, the applicant must initiate proceedings before the Tribunal by lodging an application with the Registrar. The application is then served to the opposing party which has two months to submit a defence. The application and the defence contain information on the two parties (name, address, etc.), and the arguments of fact and law relied on by each of them. Moreover, the Tribunal may decide that a second exchange of written pleadings between the applicant and defendant is required to supplement the documents.

The procedure then comprises an oral part during which the judges may question the representatives of the parties or the parties themselves. The hearings are generally public.

Furthermore, the Tribunal may decide to take measures of organisation of procedure or measures of inquiry. These measures have the common aim of ensuring that cases are prepared for hearing and procedures are carried out under the best possible conditions.

Amicable settlement of disputes

The Tribunal may, at any stage of the procedure, seek an amicable settlement of the dispute and propose a solution capable of putting an end to the dispute and adopt appropriate measures with a view to facilitating such settlement.

If the parties agree on such a solution, they sign an agreement putting an end to the proceedings before the Tribunal.

Legal aid

Proceedings before the Civil Service Tribunal are free of charge. However, the costs of lawyers authorised to practise before the Tribunal are the responsibility of the parties involved.

If a party finds it is unable to meet these costs, it may apply to receive legal aid. Applications must be accompanied by all the necessary information required to establish that the applicant is in need.

Appeals against decisions of the Civil Service Tribunal

The judgments and orders of the Civil Service Tribunal may be the subject of an appeal before the General Court (FR).

References

Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal

Rules of Procedure of the European Union Civil Service Tribunal

1.11.2007

OJ L 225, 29.8.2007

Amending act(s) Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal

Amendment of the Rules of Procedure of the European Union Civil Service Tribunal

1.3.2009

OJ L 24, 28.1.2009

Amendment of the Rules of Procedure of the European Union Civil Service Tribunal

13.4.2010

OJ L 92, 13.4.2010

Amendment of the Rules of Procedure of the European Union Civil Service Tribunal

1.7.2011

OJ L 162, 22.6.2011

Related Acts

Council Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 904/2012 of 24 September 2012 amending Regulation No 422/67/EEC, No 5/67/Euratom determining the emoluments of the President and Members of the Commission, of the President, Judges, Advocates-General and Registrar of the Court of Justice of the Communities, of the President, Members and Registrar of the Court of First Instance and of the President, Members and Registrar of the European Union Civil Service Tribunal [Official Journal L 269 of 4.10.2012].

This summary is for information only. It is not designed to interpret or replace the reference document, which remains the only binding legal text.

Rules of Procedure of the Court of Justice of the European Union

Rules of Procedure of the Court of Justice of the European Union

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

Topics

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

Institutional affairs > The institutions bodies and agencies of the union

Rules of Procedure of the Court of Justice of the European Union

Document or Iniciative

Rules of Procedure of the Court of Justice of 29 September 2012 [Official Journal L 265 of 29.9.2012].

Summary

These Rules of Procedure lay down the provisions required to implement and supplement the Statute of the Court of Justice detailed in Protocol No. 3 annexed to the Treaties.

The Court of Justice is one of the three courts comprising the Court of Justice of the European Union, the judicial institution of the Union and the European Atomic Energy Community (EAEC). The other two courts are the General Court and the Civil Service Tribunal. Their mission is to ensure the law is complied with in the interpretation and implementation of the Treaties by monitoring the legality of Union acts.

Organisation of the Court

The Court shall be organised as follows:

  • composition of the Court: the Court shall comprise 27 judges and 8 Advocates General, appointed for six years. The tasks of the Advocates General shall be to attend the Court and present legal opinions. The judges shall elect the President of the Court and the Vice-President for a term of three years. The President shall be responsible for representing the Court and managing its work programme; the Vice-President shall assist the President with his duties.
  • Constitution of chambers and designation of the Judge-Rapporteurs:The Court shall set up Chambers of five Judges, the President of which shall be elected for three years, and Chambers of three judges, the President of which shall be elected for one year. The President of the Court shall designate a Judge-Rapporteur to deal with a case, while an Advocate General shall be designated by the First Advocate General. If necessary, the Court may appoint Assistant Rapporteurs.
  • role of the Registrar:The Court shall appoint a Registrar for a term of six years. The Registrar shall be responsible for the acceptance, transmission and custody of all documents, and shall be responsible for the records. In addition, the Registrar shall assist the Members of the Court and shall be in charge of the publications of the Court. Lastly, he shall direct the services of the Court under the authority of the President of the Court.
  • working of the Court:Cases shall be assigned to the full Court, the Grand Chamber or to a Chamber of five or three judges. Several cases may be heard and determined together by one and the same formation of the Court. The deliberations of the Court shall remain secret.
  • languages:a language shall be assigned for each case. In direct actions, the applicant may choose the language from the twenty-three official European Union languages. In preliminary ruling proceedings, the language of the case shall be that of the national court or tribunal.

Characteristics of proceedings

In general, proceedings before the Court shall comprise the following phases:

  • written proceedings: this involves an exchange of pleadings between the parties. The pleadings must have clearly-defined content. Once the procedure is closed, a preliminary report shall be presented by the Judge-Rapporteur to the general meeting of the Court.
  • measures of inquiry: The Court can determine the measures of inquiry such as the personal appearance of the parties, requests for information and documents, oral testimony, the commissioning of an expert’s report and an inspection of the place or thing in question. Minutes of every inquiry hearing shall be drawn up.
  • Oral proceedings shall take place, if necessary, after the inquiry. Oral proceedings shall thus be opened and directed by the President. Oral proceedings may take place in camera.
  • Opinion of the Advocate General:at the end of these proceedings, the Advocate General shall deliver his Opinion.
  • the final decision:the Court shall decide by judgment or by order. Only the judgment shall be delivered in open court. Judgments and orders contain different information, such as a summary of the facts and the grounds for the decision. A copy shall then be distributed to each of the parties.

Furthermore, the Rules shall contain specific provisions concerning the different procedures before the Court: preliminary ruling procedure, direct actions, appeals against decisions of the General Court, opinions, and other particular forms of procedure.

References for a preliminary hearing

National courts may submit a reference for a preliminary hearing before the General Court in order to question the interpretation of European Union law. As part of a reference for a preliminary hearing, observations may be made by, in particular:

  • the parties to the main proceedings;
  • the Member States;
  • the European Commission;
  • the institution which adopted the act, the validity or interpretation of which is in dispute.

Appeals against decisions by the General Court

It is possible to bring an appeal against a decision by the General Court. In this case, an application must be lodged with the Registry containing, in particular, the pleas in law and legal arguments relied on. The application must seek to have the decision set aside, in whole or in part.

Review of decisions of the General Court

In two instances, specifically when it ruled in an appeal against a decision by the Civil Service Tribunal, the decisions of the General Court can be subject to a review by the Court. A Chamber of five Judges shall be designated for a period of one year to carry out the reviews.

Reference

Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal

Rules of Procedure of the Court of Justice

1.11.2012

OJ L 265 of 29.9.2012 and

OJ C 337 of 6.11.2012

Related Act(S)

Council Regulation (EU, Euratom) No. 904/2012 of 24 September 2012 amending Regulation No 422/67/EEC, No 5/67/Euratom determining the emoluments of the President and Members of the Commission, of the President, Judges, Advocates-General and Registrar of the Court of Justice of the Communities, of the President, Members and Registrar of the Court of First Instance and of the President, Members and Registrar of the European Union Civil Service Tribunal [Official Journal L 269 of 4.10.2012].

Rules of Procedure of the European Parliament

Rules of Procedure of the European Parliament

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Rules of Procedure of the European Parliament

Topics

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

Justice freedom and security > Citizenship of the Union

Rules of Procedure of the European Parliament

Document or Iniciative

Rules of Procedure of the European Parliament (EP).

Summary

The Rules of Procedure of the European Parliament (EP) establish the internal organisation and functioning of the institution. Article 232 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU gives Parliament the power to adopt its own Rules of Procedure.

COMPOSITION OF PARLIAMENT

Members

The Members of the EP exercise their mandate independently, subject to the rules concerning incompatibility laid down in the Act of 20th September 1976 (amended by Decision 2002/772/EC). They enjoy privileges and immunities in accordance with the Protocol 7 on the privileges and immunities of the EU.

The President, the 14 Vice-Presidents and the 5 Quaestors are elected by their peers by secret ballot. Their nominations must have the support of a political group or at least 40 Members. Their term of office is two and a half years.

The President:

  • directs all the activities of and represents Parliament;
  • opens, suspends and closes sittings;
  • directs parliamentary debates;
  • rules on the admissibility of amendments in plenary session, on questions to the Council and Commission, and on the conformity of Parliament’s reports with its Rules of Procedure;
  • refers to committees any communications that concern them.

The Vice-Presidents may replace the President as provided for in the Rules of Procedure, for example if the President wishes to take part in a debate. The Quaestors are also responsible for administrative and financial matters.

Governing bodies

Parliament has several governing bodies, the most important of which are:

  • the Bureau: consisting of the President, the 14 Vice-Presidents and the Quaestors (who serve in an advisory capacity), it takes financial, organisational and administrative decisions on matters concerning Parliament;
  • the Conference of Presidents: it consists of the President, the chairmen of the political groups and a non-attached Member who participates in the Conference without a right to vote. The Conference takes decisions on the organisation of Parliament’s work and matters relating to legislative planning, draws up the agendas for Parliament’s part-sessions, determines the composition and areas of competence of committees, and authorises the drawing up of own-initiative reports. It is also responsible for relations with the other institutions and bodies of the European Union as well as with certain non-member countries and non-Union institutions and organisations.

There are also two other Conferences, the Conference of Committee Chairmen and the Conference of Delegation Chairmen. Both may make recommendations to the Conference of Presidents.

Groups and political parties

The political groups are formed on the basis of political affinities and consist of a minimum of 25 Members elected in at least one quarter of the Member States. The political groups and Members who have not joined a group are provided with a secretariat, administrative facilities and the appropriations entered for the purpose in Parliament’s budget.

The Statute of the European political parties was approved in 2004. Parliament’s Rules of Procedure merely set out the powers and responsibilities of its governing bodies in relation to them. The President represents Parliament in its relations with these parties and the Bureau decides on requests for financing.

ORGANISATION

Parliamentary committees

The organisation and operation of Parliament is the responsibility of the parliamentary committees. There are three types of parliamentary committee:

  • standing committees: These committees are at the heart of Parliament’s legislative work (Annex VII to the Rules of Procedure). The standing committees examine the matters referred to them according to their powers and responsibilities. Should it fall within more than one area, the matter may be referred to a maximum of three committees;
  • special committees: Their powers, composition and term of office are defined when they are set up. Their mandate cannot exceed twelve months;
  • committees of inquiry: These are ad hoc committees set up by Parliament at the request of one quarter of its Members to investigate contraventions or maladministration in the implementation of European law.

The standing and special committees are set up on a proposal of the Conference of Presidents. Their permanent and substitute members are elected after nominations have been submitted by the political groups and the non-attached Members. The composition of these committees should correspond as far as possible to that of Parliament as a whole.

Interparliamentary delegations

There are also standing interparliamentary delegations, set up on a proposal from the Conference of Presidents, which decides on their nature and the number of their members. Parliament can also set up joint parliamentary committees with the parliaments of States associated with the Union or States with which accession negotiations have been initiated..

Sessions of Parliament

Each year of the term corresponds to one session divided into 12 part-sessions (monthly plenaries). The monthly part-session is subdivided into daily sittings.

Parliament’s seat is in Strasbourg, where it holds 12 monthly part-sessions. Additional part-sessions and committee meetings are held in Brussels.

Members have the right to speak in the official language of their choice. Leave to speak and speaking time are carefully regulated.

A draft agenda is drawn up by the Conference of Presidents. The final agenda is then adopted at the start of each session. Moreover, the points listed in the agenda may be the subject of a debate, proposals for amendments or the subject of a single vote without debate.

LEGISLATIVE, BUDGETARY AND OTHER PROCEDURES

Parliament cooperates with the Commission and the Council in drawing up the European Union’s legislative programme (see Annex XIV). Once the Commission has submitted a proposal, the legislative procedure in Parliament starts with an in-depth examination of respect for fundamental rights, the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality, and an estimate of the financial resources needed.

In the case of legislative reports, the President of Parliament sends the Commission proposals, consultations, requests by the Council or from the Commission for an opinion, and the Council common positions to the parliamentary committee, which first examines the legal basis. The committee then appoints a rapporteur whose report will comprise draft amendments, if any, a draft legislative resolution and, if appropriate, an explanatory statement. The committee chairman may also propose that the proposal be approved without amendment following a first discussion, unless at least one tenth of the committee members object.

A rapporteur is also appointed in the case of non-legislative reports, such as own-initiative reports or opinions. He must present a report comprising a motion for a resolution, an explanatory statement including a financial statement, and the texts of any motions for resolutions to be tabled in plenary.

Own-initiative reports, sent to the Commission so that it can present a proposal for legislation, must first be authorised by the Conference of Presidents. The Conference has two months to take a decision. If authorisation is withheld, the reason must be stated.

Legislative procedures

All legislative proposals from the Commission are sent to the competent parliamentary committee which draws up a report. On the basis of this report, the Parliament may adopt the text, propose amendments or reject the proposal.

In the ordinary legislative procedure, the Parliament is co-legislator with the Council of the EU. The two institutions adopt legislative acts either at first reading or at second reading. If, at the end of the second reading, the two institutions have still not reached agreement, a conciliation committee is convened.

Furthermore, there are special legislative procedures within which the Council of the EU is the sole legislator and the Parliament is only associated with the procedure. The role of the Parliament is therefore limited to consultation on, and approval of, the legislative proposal.

Quorum and voting

A quorum exists when one third of the Members are present in the Chamber. Voting is usually by show of hands, but voting by roll call, electronic voting and voting by secret ballot are also possible in some circumstances.

Other procedures

Particularly sensitive areas, such as the budget and foreign relations, are subject to a separate procedure.

Parliament plays a key role with respect to the EU Budget; it is involved in adopting the budget, controls its implementation and grants discharge to the Commission in respect of such implementation.

The EP also plays an important role in concluding international agreements. In particular, it can formulate recommendations and deliver its opinion or approval on the signing of all international agreements.

RELATIONS WITH OTHER INSTITUTIONS AND WITH CITIZENS

Relations with the other European institutions and bodies

Parliament elects the President of the Commission and the College of Commissioners. Once they have been appointed, the Commissioners are asked to present their policy approaches in plenary and to the committees responsible. Parliament may also submit and vote on a motion of censure leading to the resignation of the Commission. A framework agreement on relations with the Commission can be found in Annex XIII.

Parliament also gives its opinion on the appointment of Members of the Court of Auditors and Members of the Executive Board of the European Central Bank.

Parliament may also consult the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) and the Committee of the Regions on matters of a general nature or on specific points. It also has the right to submit requests to European agencies and to make referrals to the Court of Justice of the European Union.

In order to improve or clarify procedures, Parliament may enter into interinstitutional agreements with the other institutions. Parliament has other means of interacting with the institutions. It may for example put questions to the Council or the Commission, which will answer orally during the debate or in writing if so requested by Parliament. It may also submit written questions to the European Central Bank.

Relations with national parliaments

Parliament briefs the national parliaments regularly on its activities. A delegation from the EP meets the national delegations in the Conference of Parliamentary Committees for European Affairs.

Relations with citizens

All citizens or residents of the European Union have the right of access to parliamentary documents, within the limits defined. Committee and plenary debates are public and reports on plenary debates are published in the Official Journal, thereby guaranteeing the transparency of and the public’s right to information on Parliament’s proceedings.

All citizens or residents of the European Union also have the right to address petitions to Parliament on matters coming within the European Union’s fields of activity and directly affecting them. Petitions are examined by the committee responsible, which may decide to draw up a report or otherwise express an opinion.

European citizens may also address complaints concerning the activities of the European institutions and bodies to the European Ombudsman.

This summary is for information only. It is not designed to interpret or replace the reference document, which remains the only binding legal text.