PositionMember of the European Parliament - Interview

Implementation of the new rules introduced by the TFEU has obliged each institution to get its bearings, sometimes with difficulty

One of the distinguishing features of the legislature drawing to a close has been the adjustment to the new rules established by the Lisbon Treaty (TFEU). The European Parliament acquired new powers that, in some cases, it is still managing hesitantly. Isabelle Thomas (S&D, France), rapporteur for the Committee on Fisheries (PECH) on compliance with the TFEU of the fisheries control regulation, assessed this exercise for Europolitics.

How do you rate implementation of the TFEU?

The near-universal application of co-decision is something of a revolution because it makes Parliament a veritable co-legislator. But it is only slowly measuring the extent of its powers. There was not an abrupt change but there has been more of a slowly growing awareness and Parliament has made little use of its possibility to stop the process. We saw it used with the report on ACTA {Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement - Ed], where it rejected the Commission's proposal, and on the budget, where there was a veto threat issued early in the process so as to be in a position to negotiate on substance. Parliament has used this right constructively and has thus been able to impose additional rules like flexibility in budget lines between programmes. It gave up in other cases, for example on maritime spatial planning and integrated coastal zone management, letting a whole section of its position get scrapped in the three-way talks. This relates to who is negotiating and their awareness of co-decision and how they have to apply it. If we stay in the old patterns of thought where the Council and Commission are seen as having a sort of 'superiority', Parliament will always lose a few feathers. On the other hand, if we have high esteem for the EP's role in these negotiations we will be firmer. The results depend on the negotiating team.

Is there a new balance of power?

The Commission's position has changed. The Commission and Council used to dominate the legislative process. It was more a game of two than of three. The game of two has now shifted from one of Commission-Council or Commission-EP to one of Council-EP. On an issue like fisheries technical measures, the EP and Council were in agreement. The Commission was opposed and tried to get back into the discussion but the EP and Council sent it packing, arguing that they are the sole...

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