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The Union's decision making procedures
The Convention's proposals are designed to simplify the legislative and budgetary
Hence, of the four existing legislative procedures, only the co-decision procedure has been maintained. The extension of this procedure, which the draft Constitution enshrines as an ordinary legislative procedure, is the most remarkable novelty. A special legislative procedure is also envisaged but it is attached to a 'bridge' clause which gives the European Council an opportunity to apply the ordinary legislative procedure.
As regards the budgetary procedure, the draft Constitution provides for the adoption of the budget by the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers in accordance with a simpler procedure than the one currently in force which enhances the Parliament's prerogatives. Besides, the multiannual financial framework is from now on a matter for the Council of Ministers.
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The Convention proposes simplifying the Union's legislative procedures. The cooperation
procedure, the consultation procedure and the assent procedure now come under the
rubric "special legislative procedure". The only one to be maintained is the codecision
procedure. The introduction of the "ordinary legislative procedure" (Articles I-33
and III-302), modelled on the existing "codecision" procedure, will give the Parliament
equal legislative powers with the Council of Ministers.
Acting on a proposal from the Commission, European laws and framework laws will be adopted jointly by the Parliament and the Council of Ministers, in accordance with the ordinary legislative procedure described in Article III-302. This will simplify the provisions which, in the existing Treaty, involve the co-decision mechanism: the references to the Commission's proposal and the co-decision procedure are directly incorporated in the term 'law' or 'framework law'.
The Convention proposes extending the application of this ordinary legislative procedure to a large number of articles and hence enhancing the Parliament's powers. This extension of the co-decision procedure is also in line with the extension of the qualified majority vote to approximately twenty provisions, which should also simplify the decision-making procedure.
Article I-33 specifies that, in certain cases, special laws remain applicable; these are adopted by the Council alone or, more rarely, by the European Parliament alone and not by the two institutions jointly. This special legislative procedure still concerns a large number of legal bases and covers the equivalent of the old consultation and assent procedures. However, pursuant to Article I-24, which provides for a bridge' clause , the European Council may decide by unanimity (after consulting the European Parliament and informing the national Parliaments) to apply the ordinary legislative procedures to all legal bases which provide for the adoption of laws or framework laws by the Council.
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Article III-310 of the Constitution introduces changes as regards the procedure
and timetable associated with the preparation and adoption of the budget. The Parliament's
powers are enhanced, since the budgetary procedure is now part of the ordinary legislative
procedure; however, the Parliament may make the final decision, acting by a majority
of its component members and three-fifths of the votes cast. Hence the Parliament
has the last word on all budgetary matters.
Besides, the old distinction between mandatory and non-mandatory expenditure has been eliminated, which means that the Parliament's influence now extends to the entire budget. Formerly, only non-mandatory expenditure could be finally decided on by the Parliament. To compensate for the possible effects of eliminating the distinction between these two categories of expenditure , Article III-319 stipulates that the institutions must ensure that the financial means are made available to allow the Union to fulfil its legal obligations in respect of third parties.
Finally, the last novelty introduced into the budgetary procedure concerns the evaluation report (Article III-314) which the Commission must submit annually to the European Parliament and to the Council of Ministers. This report, in conjunction with the discharge procedure, should make it possible to evaluate the implementation of the budget in relation to the objectives laid down.
Article I-54 of the Constitution institutionalises the definition and preparation of the implementing provisions for the financial perspective currently carried out in the framework of an inter-institutional agreement. Preparation of the multiannual financial framework (which lays down the ceilings by category of expenditure in accordance with Article III-308) is now a matter for the Council of Ministers, which acts after obtaining the consent of the European Parliament. The budget must comply with the multiannual financial framework.
Besides, the Community budget must always be implemented in accordance with traditional budgetary patterns (Article I-52), namely unity, annuality and equilibrium. No changes are envisaged as regards own resources (Article I-53). The Commission remains responsible for presenting the Union's draft annual budget and for implementing it in cooperation with the Member States under the supervision of the Parliament and the Court of Auditors.
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|Article I-24, point 4||The 'bridge' clause||New provisions|
|Article I-33||The ordinary legislative procedure and the special legislative procedure||New provisions|
|Articles I-54 and III-308||The multiannual financial framework||New provisions|
|Article III-302||The ordinary legislative procedure||-|
|Article III-309 to III-319||The budgetary procedure||-|
The fact sheets are not legally binding on the European Commission. They do not claim to be exhaustive and do not represent an official interpretation of the text of the Convention.