Niveau juridique : Union européenne
Texte de la question, 15-06-2018
There are major shortcomings in the transparency of the EU’s system of committees, also known as ‘comitology’.
Citizens and the European Parliament have no insight into how the different countries vote and argue. Current examples are the decisions on glyphosate and on neonicotinoids, where the different countries’ positions only became known through leaks, and it is unclear if the representatives had firmly established their positions with their respective governments. Countries often hide behind comitology and sometimes abstain from voting to force the Commission into deciding on sensitive issues. The Commission has now put forward a proposal for greater transparency, but only in the ‘Appeal Committee’.
In view of this, can the Commission say:
What does it intend to do to further increase transparency in comitology?
Is the Commission prepared to disclose how the different countries have argued and voted in all parts of the comitology and to live-stream meetings when someone so requests?
Texte de la réponse, 31-07-2018
The Comitology Register(1) documents the work of comitology committees since 2008, in line with the requirements of Regulation 182/2011(2). According to this, public access to information on committee proceedings should be ensured in accordance with Regulation (EC) No 1049/2001 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 30 May 2001 regarding public access to European Parliament, Council and Commission documents. More specifically, Article 10 of Regulation 182/2011 provides an exhaustive list of what the register needs to contain, and explicitly refers to ‘voting results’. This requirement is met by the availability, in the register, of voting sheets corresponding to the draft implementing acts voted on. These voting sheets provide the total number of Member States voting in favour, against or abstaining, as well as those not represented at the meeting, together with the percentages corresponding to their population. The individual position of each Member State is not made public, given the confidential nature of the deliberations in the committees(3). This reflects the fact that according to Regulation (EC) No 1049/2001, the institutions should be entitled to protect their internal consultations and deliberations where necessary to safeguard their ability to carry out their tasks. The Commission has in its proposal of 14 February 2017(4) put forward four targeted amendments to Regulation 182/2011 reviewing the functioning of the appeal committee. One of the proposed amendments makes the individual votes expressed by Member States in the appeal committee public.
This proposal — now with the European Parliament and the Council — reflects the Commission’s finding that while the system established by Regulation (EC) No 182/2011 has, overall, proven to work well in practice, in a very low number of cases in very sensitive areas, recourse to the appeal committee did not help in providing clarity on Member State positions.
The appeal committee, however, is precisely a body meant to help decision-making in sensitive and problematic cases. The sole objective of the Commission proposal is thus to solve this specific problem, improving the functioning of the comitology procedures at the level of the appeal committee in order to ensure wider political accountability and ownership of politically sensitive implementing acts, without however modifying the legal and institutional responsibilities for implementing acts as organised by Regulation (EU) No 182/2011.
(2) Regulation (EU) No 182/2011 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 February 2011 laying down the rules and general principles concerning mechanisms for control by Member States of the Commission’s exercise of implementing powers, eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/ALL/?uri=CELEX:32011R0182
(3) Article 10(2) and 13(2) of the Standard Rules of Procedures for Committees, OJ C 206, 12.7.2011, p. 11.
(4) Proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Regulation (EU) No 182/2011 laying down the rules and general principles concerning mechanisms for control by Member States of the Commission’s exercise of implementing powers, COM(2017)085, eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/ALL/?uri=CELEX:52017PC0085&qid=1494934795848