The next plenary session on May 23 and 24 will be devoted primarily to a general debate on the implementation of the European Union's responsibilities. An introductory document on this debate will be sent out to Convention members. This essentially descriptive text, which has been drafted under the aegis of the Convention Secretariat, sketches out a comprehensive panorama of the various legal instruments that permit the exercise of these powers. The extreme confusion of the Treaty is clearly highlighted. The first pillar is governed by Decisions, Regulations, Directives, Opinions and Recommendations, along with Guidelines and Framework Programmes, which are adequately coherent but can be improved upon. With Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) and the development of Common European Security and Defence Policy (CESDP), Common Strategies, Joint Actions and other codes of conduct, guidelines and declarations by the Council and the Presidency also enter the equation. Framework Decisions and Conventions are the mark of the third pillar, justice and home affairs (JHA), though not without a link to the first with scope for Directives and Regulations, notably on asylum and immigration. This overview would not however be complete without several other "atypical instruments" such as inter-institutional agreements, concluded regularly and on various topics by the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission, Council Resolutions and declarations, some of which have legal standing.If at least the implementation of these myriad instruments were decided in a transparent fashion, the functioning of the Union would be rendered less opaque. However, this is not the case. There are thus seven combinations for the involvement of the Parliament in the legislative process: unanimity of the Council in co-decision with Parliament, unanimity with assent, unanimity with a simple opinion, unanimity without parliamentary participation, qualified majority vote (QMV) of the Council with parliamentary co-decision, QMV with co-operation, QMV with assent, QMV with simple opinion, QMV without participation of the Parliament. "No logic other than the vagaries of diplomatic negotiations on the reform of the successive Treaties justifies the application of specific procedures to specific topics", according to the Secretariat's document. The text returns in this context to the problem of a hierarchy of standards, a question pending since the Maastricht Treaty*. Such...

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