This week's European Parliament plenary session provided further evidence of the assembly's new pursuit of power - and of its continuing failings in the glory stakes. MEPs took advantage of what might have otherwise been purely formal business, and extracted concessions from both the European Commission and the Council. But at the same time, they showed marked reluctance to bring the same tough scrutiny to their own affairs.

The formal exercise was Parliament's assent to the accession of Romania and Bulgaria - an important but nonetheless essentially routine matter, since questions of EU enlargement remain essentially in the hands of the member states and the European Council. The Parliament is required to give its assent, but has no hand in the negotiations - so it can say only yes or no.

As expected, the Parliament said yes. But it managed to turn its assent into something much closer to a "yes, but".

From the Commission, MEPs won a promise of influence over any decision to defer membership for the two candidate countries. The terms the EU has negotiated with them allows an emergency brake, in the form of safeguard measures, to be imposed if either Romania or Bulgaria fails to make steady progress towards membership. Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn gave MEPs assurances that they would be "fully associated"...

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT