When discussing the UK’s influence in the EU, a point of debate is our voting power in the Council of the EU. Under the new Council voting system the UK now has a 13% share of the vote, however the powers of the Parliament and the Council are limited in important but poorly recognised ways, with much of the important work and many of the important decisions done before they are even discussed by Ministers or put to a vote by MEPs.
There are an increasing number of laws come into being via international standards and these are most often implemented by the EU as delegated legislation (Commission Regulations) using the comitology procedure.
Every year, more than 2,500 measures are processed via this route, passing through one or more of the 200-300 committees set up for the purpose. That is approximately 30 times more measures than are processed via the mainstream ordinary legislative procedure. The committees themselves are populated by anonymous officials from the member states, but they have no powers to amend or reject Commission proposals. They can either approve them, or refer them to the Council if they disagree with them. At Council, though, 70-90 percent of decisions are made by officials in the 160- plus preparatory bodies.266,267 These are known as “A-points” – colloquially the “A-list” – which are adopted by Ministers without discussion or a vote.268
With Regulations made under acts passed before the Lisbon Treaty, the Council or Parliament can veto measures on certain grounds. However, with Regulations made under legislation approved post-Lisbon, the veto no longer applies. The Commission is only required to “review” proposed regulations if there are objections, but it has no obligation to change them. And, via the REFIT programme, the Commission is updating pre-Lisbon legislation, allowing it to eliminate the veto altogether. Britain (and Member States generally), with already limited power, are thereby weakened even more.
This post was originally published by the author 14 April 2016 https://thescepticisle.com/2016/04/14/the-limited-powers-of-the-european-parliament-and-council-of-europe/