Policy-Making Systems The Community Method Intensive Transgovernamentalism O National governments are the key actors O Decisions require unanimous approval by participating governments O The European Council and/or the Council of Ministers are the sole decision makers; the Commission and the EP are to the margins O QMV is NOT available and all member states can veto a proposed decision to which they object O Areas such as Foreign and Defence Policies O Traditional policy-making way O It was primarily based on a Commission-Council tandem; but since 1980s it has changed to a Commission-Council-EP triangle. O The ability of the Council to take the decisions by QMV has been greatly extended
The Community Method places limitations to the Council in 2 main ways Legislative power Acting by a simple majority, the Council may request the Commission to undertake any studies the Council considers desirable for the attainment of the common objectives, and to submit to it any appropriate proposals. Act on proposal that are made by the Commission After the Maastricht Treaty, the Coucil became co-legislator with the EP There are ways to allow the Council a policy- initiating role:
Executive Power Indirect The Commission is obliged to work with and through committees composed of national govermental officials not formally part of the Council Direct Foreign and Defence Policies Many declarations issued by the Council on foreign affairs are executive decisions Especially in the case of operational activities involving putting civilian, police and military personnel into troubled areas, policy execution is in the hands of the Council Method
Composition Presidency The Ministers (GA, FA, ECOFIN and others) The Committe of Permanent Representatives (COREPER= COREPER I and COREPER II) Committees and Working Parties Secretariat
Committees and Working Parties Council Committees Working Parties O Composed of national officers O Serviced by Council Administrators O Their task is to provide advice to the Council and the Commission O Most important Committees are: SCA, EFC, PSC + other committees O «ad hoc»committees O Their main job is to carry out detailed analyses of formally tabled Commission proposals for legislation. O Their number varies according to the nature of the EU’s workload and the Presidency, but usually over 150. O Usually they are between 2 and 4 per member state O They are national officials and experts; occasionally non-civil servants are appointed when highly technical or complex issues are under consideration.
The Committee of Permanent Representatives Each of the member states has a national delegation or Permanent Representation in Brussels («Embassy of the EU). Headed by a Permanent Representative (diplomat of very high rank; 60 officials plus back-up support (about half diplomats, half from national ministries). COREPER I COREPER II
The Ministers Legally there is only one Council of Ministers, but in practice there are different formations to deal with different policy areas. -General Affairs: is involve with the preparation of and follow-up to European Council meetings. -Ministerial meetings can differ in terms of their status and/or policy responsibilities. -Foreign Affairs: it would deal with the EU’s external relations. -Ecofin (Economic and Finance) -Other sectoral or Technical Councils: such as Agriculture and Fisheries, Environment, Transport and Telecommunication.
The Operations of the Council: The Council Presidency
The Rotation System Until the implementation of Lisbon Treaty in December 2009… O The Council Presidency was implemented by member states rotating their leading roles on six-monthly basis. O But the presidency rotation system was changed into groupings of three states in 2007 due to 2004 enlargement. Each state of the group takes its presidency for six month. The Troika System
The Tasks of the Presidency 1. To arrange and to chair most Council meetings from ministerial level downwards. 2. To build a consensus for initiatives. 3. To offer leadership. 4. To ensure continuity and consistency of policy development. 5. To represent the Council in dealing with outside Bodies.
Advantages of Holding the Presidency 1. The high prestige and status associated with the position as media focus and interest on the Presidency increases. 2. Presidencies have more possibilities to do more than they can as ordinary member states because they involve in the core of EU affairs. 3. Presidencies stand on closer positions to the Council positions, their preference is more likely to be adopted.
Disadvantages of Holding the Presidency 1. Heavy administrative burdens on their job. 2. Presidencies are considered to take a consensual approach on disputed issues, but in some cases, it may inhibit governments from defending their own national interests. 3. The damage on the esteem and status when a state is seen as incapable of running Presidency.
The Hierarchical Structure of the Council The Ministers (GA, FA, ECOFIN and others) The Committe of Permanent Representatives (COREPER= COREPER I and COREPER II) Committees and Working Parties
The Progress of the Commission Proposal in the Council 1. Initial examination of the Commission’s text by working parties. Most important factor: Qualified majority voting (QMV) or Unanimity? 2. The reference of the working party’s document to COREPER O Most matters are resolved at working party or COREPER level. O Only the most difficult matters are discussed at ministerial levels. O Statistical figures: O Between 75-85 per cent of matters are resolved at committee or working party level. O Only about 5 per cent of matters are discussed at ministerial level.
The Progress of the Commission Proposal in the Council 3. Ministerial meetings: O ‘A points’ O Matters which have been agreed at COREPER level and there are different kind of matters from routine ‘administrative’ decisions to new legislation. O Council approval is given without discussion. O ‘B points’ O Matters which have not been left from previous meeting and have not been resolved at COREPER or working-party levels. O They will be discussed by national officials at lower Council levels.
Taking Decisions UnanimitySimple Majority Until 1980’s: no votes on proposals even with disagreements ->Luxembourg Compromise/ “Empty Chair Crisis” Member states still prefer unanimity ->culture of consensus Confined to few policy areas and types of decision ->framework of CFSP/CSDP, enlargement, “constitutional”, financial decisions -> when Council wishes to amend a Commission legislative proposal Abstaining state “shall not be obliged to apply the decision, but shall accept that the decision commits the Union…” All states have one vote each Applied only to only relatively minor and procedural matters
Taking Decisions Qualified Majority Applies to most decisions where legislation is being made and to some (mainly executive) CFSP/CSDP decisions Nov. 4, 2004 Treaty of Nice for enlargement ->double majority ->possibility of triple majority requirement : a) min. 255/345 weighted votes b) qualified majority=majority of member states if it’s a commission proposal vote or two-thirds of member states c)member states in qualified majority represent 62% of EU population -November 2014: The Lisbon Treaty will abolish weighted votes and the triple-majority system and replace it with a simpler double-majority system; 55% of the member states representing at least 65% of the EU population are in favor of the proposal
Taking Decisions O Implicit majority voting: voting occurring informally ->strong-arming in response to pressure for unanimity O But majority voting increased because: ->acknowledgement of delay and procrastination in unanimity ->1982 override of the Lux.Comp. ->EU enlargement making it impractical ->treaties since SEA made majority voting permissible ->1987 amendment of Rules of Procedure relaxing unanimity
Conduct of Meetings Working parties attended by 100 Ministerial & COREPER meetings by 150 http://www.crowneplaza.cz/de/army.html
Conduct of Meetings O Presidency crucial in fixing the agenda of Council meetings (order + content) ->but limited because of urgent matters and rolling programs (fixed agenda) O Chaotic because of size of meetings ->”tour de table” procedure: chair invites each delegation to give summary on matter to ensure that meetings are not dominated by a few ->enlargement has made this impractical and presidents don’t do it unless necessary O Formal meetings are inefficient for “real” negotiations ->pre-prepared statements
Informal Processes and Relationships O Understandings and agreements usually reached over lunches and dinners O Good chairperson will request breaks or use schedule to explore possibilities if conflicts arise ->off-record discussion ->tour of key delegations O EU policy practitioners are usually in frequent contact with each other
Concluding Remarks O Many recent reforms dealing with: ->power too dispersed ->insufficient cohesion between and sometimes within sectoral Councils ->decision-making process too slow O Biggest changes in: ->majority voting ->reduction of number of council formations ->strengthening of troika ->formalization into group Presidencies
“Super” Council of European ministers necessary? Presidency The Ministers (GA, FA, ECOFIN and others) The Committe of Permanent Representatives (COREPER= COREPER I and COREPER II) Committees and Working Parties Secretariat European Council