Overview Edit

In the co-decision procedure, the European Parliament (EP) and the Council of Ministers share legislative power and must both approve a European Commission proposal for it to become EU law. The Amsterdam Treaty of 1997 (which entered into force in 1999) simplified the “co-decision procedure” and extended it to many additional policy areas (ranging from the environment to social policy). As more decisions within the Council of Ministers have become subject to qualified majority voting (rather than unanimity) to allow for greater speed and efficiency of decision-making, the European Parliament’s power of “co-decision” has come to be viewed as playing an increasingly important checks-and-balances role at the European level to the Commission and Council of Ministers.[1]

Impact of the Lisbon Treaty Edit

On December 1, 2009, the Lisbon Treaty — the EU’s latest institutional reform effort — went into effect. The Lisbon Treaty roughly doubles the Parliament’s right of “co-decision” to 80 policy areas, including agriculture and justice and home affairs issues such as immigration and police cooperation. In doing so, the Lisbon Treaty gives the EP a say in most all legislation passed in the EU.

Tax matters and foreign policy, however, are among the areas in which EU member states retain decision-making authority and to which the “co-decision procedure” does not apply (the Parliament may give a non-binding opinion). The Lisbon Treaty technically renames the “co-decision procedure” as the “ordinary legislative procedure,” although “co-decision” remains the more commonly used term.

Summary of the "co-decision procedure" Edit

The EU’s “co-decision procedure” can be summarized as follows:

  1. if Parliament and the Council of Ministers agree on a Commission proposal, it is approved;
  2. if they disagree, the Council forms a common position; the EP can then either accept the Council’s common position, or reject or amend it, by an absolute majority of its members;
  3. if the Council cannot accept the EP’s amendments, a conciliation meeting is convened, after which the EP and the Council approve an agreement if one can be reached. If they are unable to agree, the proposal is not adopted.

References Edit

  1. In qualified majority voting in the Council of Ministers, countries are allotted a number of votes in rough proportion to their population size. Passage of a measure currently requires at least half of the member states (two-thirds if not a Commission initiative) and 255 out of the 345 total votes, representing at least 62% of the total EU population. Under the Lisbon Treaty, a simplified formula for qualified majority voting will be introduced in 2014 but not fully implemented until 2017.

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