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The New Rules of Procedure of the European Council – Updated

Confusion. Source: Google images

Confusion. Source: Google images

I just found that with its decision of 1st December 2009, the European Council adopted its Rules of Procedure, having as a deriving point that the Treaty of Lisbon transforms the European Council into an institution of the European Union.  

The LINK: http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2009:315:0051:0055:EN:PDF 

I am reading the Rules and thereafter try to reflect upon them.

In the middle of completion of certain tasks and the Christmas temptations (I inter alia managed to visit the traditional Christmas Book Week, held from 8 to 12 December at the National Library of Estonia, where I bought the Koran, translated into the Estonian language by Haljand Udam (who was father of one of my university-mates at Tartu)), it took time to comment on the Rules of Procedure of the European Council, but I finally have managed to make some comments:

The Background:

Under the Treaty of Lisbon, the European Council becomes an institution. It provides the EU with the necessary impetus for its development and defines the general political directions and priorities thereof. It will not exercise legislative functions, but it still adopts conclusions, positions and decisions published in the Official Journal of the EU.

The European Council consists of the Heads of State or government of the Member States, together with its President and the President of the Commission. The High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security takes part in its work.

The European Council meets twice every six months, convened by its President. When the situation so requires, the President will convene a special meeting of the European Council.

Ralf Grahn characterizes the European Council as „the most political and important organ of the European Union, the institution which sets the political directions and priorities, and which gives or fails to give the EU the necessary impetus“.

And indeed, the European Council „ensures the integration of policies, and manages the interdependence between Member States and the EU“, making the key decisions and setting the objectives that the other EU bodies then implement „in an integrated way, each acting within its area of competence“ (See: Consultation on the future EU 2020 strategy at http://ec.europa.eu/eu2020 , where You are invited to contribute towards the future strategy). 

The Rules of Procedure of the European Council were taken in view of the implementation of the Lisbon Treaty with several other decisions, such as:

• Mr Herman Van Rompuy’s election as President of the European Council for the period from 1 December 2009 to 31 May 2012;

• Ms Catherine Ashton’s appointment as High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy for the period from 1 December 2009 to the end of the current term of office of the Commission;

• Mr Pierre de Boissieu’s appointment as Secretary-General of the Council for the period from 1 December 2009 until the day after the European Council meeting of June 2011;

• Decision on the exercise of the Presidency of the Council;

• Decision laying down measures for the implementation of the European Council decision on the exercise of the Presidency of the Council.

The Rules of Procedure include norms on the meetings of the European Council, on the Preparation for and follow-up to the proceedings of the European Council, on the agenda and preparation of the meetings, on the composition, delegations and the conduct of proceedings of the European Council, on the representation before the European Parliament, on adoption of positions, decisions and quorum, on the written procedure (Decisions of the European Council on an urgent matter may be adopted by a written vote where the President of the European Council proposes to use that procedure. Written votes may be used where all members of the European Council having the right to vote agree to that procedure), on the minutes of the meetings, on the language rules concerning the deliberations and decisions on the basis of documents and drafts, on the making public votes, explanations of votes and minutes and access to documents, on the professional secrecy and production of documents in legal proceedings, on the decisions of the European Council, on the secretariat, budget and security, and finally on correspondence addressed to the European Council.

Article 4 (4) states that the European Council shall consist of the Heads of State or Government of the Member States, together with its President and the President of the Commission. The High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy shall take part in its work.

Article 6 of the Rules of Procedure:

1. Except where the Treaties provide otherwise, decisions of the European Council shall be taken by consensus.

2. In those cases where, in accordance with the Treaties, the European Council adopts a decision and holds a vote, that vote shall take place on the initiative of its President.

The President shall, furthermore, be required to open a voting procedure on the initiative of a member of the European Council, provided that a majority of the members of the European Council so decides.

3. The presence of two thirds of the members of the European Council is required to enable the European Council to vote. When the vote is taken, the President shall check that there is a quorum. The President of the European Council and the President of the Commission shall not be included in the calculation of the quorum.

4. Where a vote is taken, any member of the European Council may also act on behalf of not more than one other member.

Where the European Council decides by vote, its President and the President of the Commission shall not take part in the vote.

5. Procedural decisions adopted by the European Council by virtue of these Rules of Procedure shall be adopted by a simple majority.

Article 12 of the Rules of Procedure states that the decisions adopted by the European Council shall be signed by its President and by the Secretary-General of the Council. And published in the Official Journal of the European Union.

The referred afore „Consultation on the future EU 2020 strategy“ also explains that the Spring European Council in 2010 sets the strategy on its course for the next 5 years on the basis of a Commission proposal to be tabled in early 2010, fixing a small number of headline objectives, and defining the corresponding policy actions to be pursued at EU and Member State level in partnership, stressing that „The European Council’s conclusions, with the corresponding orientations for EU and Member States policies, would thus become anchor for the integrated guidelines provided for under the Treaty“.



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