The European Parliament is expected next week to outline its views on the process for appointing the next college of European commissioners and the Commission president. MEPs are scheduled on Wednesday (11 December) to vote in plenary on a report by Alain Lamassoure (pictured below), a centre-right French MEP, on relations between the European Parliament and the member states.
The report has no legislative effect, but expresses the Parliament’s position on the proper division of labour between the EU’s institutions ahead of elections to the European Parliament next May. Lamassoure, who chairs the Parliament’s budgets committee, calls on the European Council to outline “how it intends to respect the choice of European citizens in the appointment of the President of the Commission”.
It also calls on national governments to “announce in advance how they intend to respect the vote of their fellow citizens when proposing one or more candidates for the post of commissioner from their country”.
The report says that – based on the experience of the four years since the Lisbon treaty took effect – relations between the European Council and the Parliament should be formalised in an agreement or joint statement, to ensure that MEPs are given the chance to express their views on matters under consideration by the Council.
The report, which was adopted by the Parliament’s constitutional-affairs committee on 14 October, criticises the Council for grabbing powers that go beyond those outlined in the Lisbon treaty. “Under the pressure of the [eurozone] crisis, the European Council has considerably aggrandised its role, increasing the number of extraordinary meetings and raising to European Council level matters normally dealt with at Council of Ministers level,” the report says. “In this respect the European Council has gone beyond the crucial Treaty injunction that it has no legislative functions.”
Sexual and reproductive health
A controversial report on sexual and reproductive health and rights will be on the plenary’s agenda for the second time in as many months, after centre-right and far-right MEPs thwarted its adoption on 22 October and sent it back to committee.
Social conservatives object to calls in the report for sex education at an early age, and for the legalisation of abortion; they also oppose its view that member states should regulate the conditions under which medical staff can refuse to undertake abortions on grounds of conscience.
The plenary vote is scheduled for Tuesday (10 December), after the 35-member committee on women’s rights and gender equality adopted a slightly modified draft on 25 November, with 19 votes in favour and 15 against.
The report was first adopted by the committee in September with 17 votes in favour, seven against and seven abstentions.
The report, drafted by Edite Estrela, a centre-left Portuguese MEP, has no legal effect. Estrela accused opponents of the report of using “all the procedural tricks possible”.
Basic bank account
MEPs are scheduled on Tuesday (10 December) to debate draft legislation enshrining the right of every legal resident of the EU to a basic bank account with a debit card (there will be a vote on Wednesday). More than half of all Romanians and almost one-third of Italians do not have a bank account.
The draft directive, proposed by the European Commission in May, is also intended to promote competition among retail banks by requiring greater transparency about fees and easier switching of accounts to another bank.
The Parliament’s version of the new rules was drafted by Jürgen Klute, a left-wing German MEP. It was adopted by the economic and monetary affairs committee on 18 November. The legislation will require the backing of member states in order to take effect.
On Tuesday morning (10 December), MEPs are scheduled to debate the European Commission’s funding of justice, rights and citizenship programmes in 2014-20. On Wednesday (11 December), the plenary will vote on five nominees for the European Court of Auditors, all of whom have been approved by the budgetary-control committee.
On Thursday (12 December), the plenary is scheduled to vote on a non- binding resolution calling for a measurable and binding commitment against tax evasion and tax avoidance in the EU. MEPs will discuss the European Central Bank’s annual report for 2012 with Mario Draghi, the ECB’s president.