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Consolidated text: Framework Agreement on relations between the European Parliament and the European Commission
Framework Agreement on relations between the European Parliament and the European Commission
Framework Agreement on relations between the European Parliament and the European Commission
02010Q1120(01) — EN — 07.02.2018 — 001.001
This text is meant purely as a documentation tool and has no legal effect. The Union's institutions do not assume any liability for its contents. The authentic versions of the relevant acts, including their preambles, are those published in the Official Journal of the European Union and available in EUR-Lex. Those official texts are directly accessible through the links embedded in this document
(OJ L 304 20.11.2010, p. 47)
Framework Agreement on relations between the European Parliament and the European Commission
1. To better reflect the new ‘special partnership’ between Parliament and the Commission, the two Institutions agree on the following measures to strengthen the political responsibility and legitimacy of the Commission, extend constructive dialogue, improve the flow of information between the two Institutions and improve cooperation on procedures and planning.
They also agree on specific provisions:
— on Commission meetings with national experts, as set out in Annex I,
— on the forwarding of confidential information to Parliament, as set out in Annex II,
— on the negotiation and conclusion of international agreements, as set out in Annex III, and
— on the timetable for the Commission Work Programme, as set out in Annex IV.
II. POLITICAL RESPONSIBILITY
2. After being nominated by the European Council, the President-designate of the Commission will submit to Parliament political guidelines for his/her term of office in order to enable an informed exchange of views to take place with Parliament before its election vote.
3. In conformity with Rule 106 of its Rules of Procedure, Parliament shall communicate with the President-elect of the Commission in good time before the opening of the procedures relating to giving its consent to the new Commission. Parliament shall take into account the remarks expressed by the President-elect.
The designated Members of the Commission shall ensure full disclosure of all relevant information, in conformity with the obligation of independence laid down in Article 245 TFEU.
The procedures shall be designed in such a way as to ensure that the entire Commission-designate is assessed in an open, fair and consistent manner.
4. Each Member of the Commission shall take political responsibility for action in the field of which he/she is in charge, without prejudice to the principle of Commission collegiality.
The President of the Commission shall be fully responsible for identifying any conflict of interest which renders a Member of the Commission unable to perform his/her duties.
The President of the Commission shall likewise be responsible for any subsequent action taken in such circumstances and shall inform the President of Parliament thereof immediately and in writing.
The participation of Members of the Commission in electoral campaigns is governed by the Code of Conduct for the Members of the European Commission.
Members of the Commission may participate in electoral campaigns in elections to the Parliament, including as candidates. They may also be chosen by European political parties as lead candidate (‘Spitzenkandidat’) for the position of President of the Commission.
The President of the Commission shall inform Parliament in due time whether one or more Members of the Commission will stand as candidates in electoral campaigns for elections to the Parliament, as well as of the measures taken to ensure the respect of the principles of independence, integrity and discretion provided for by Article 245 TFEU and the Code of Conduct for the Members of the European Commission.
Any Member of the Commission standing as candidate or participating in an electoral campaign for elections to the Parliament will undertake to refrain from adopting a position, in the course of the campaign, that would not be in line with his/her duty of confidentiality, or that would infringe the principle of collegiality.
Members of the Commission standing as candidates or participating in electoral campaigns for elections to the Parliament may not use the Commission's human or material resources for activities linked to the electoral campaign.
5. If Parliament asks the President of the Commission to withdraw confidence in an individual Member of the Commission, he/she will seriously consider whether to request that Member to resign, in accordance with Article 17(6) TEU. The President shall either require the resignation of that Member or explain his/her refusal to do so before Parliament in the following part-session.
6. Where it becomes necessary to arrange for the replacement of a Member of the Commission during his/her term of office pursuant to the second paragraph of Article 246 TFEU, the President of the Commission will seriously consider the result of Parliament’s consultation before giving accord to the decision of the Council.
Parliament shall ensure that its procedures are conducted with the utmost dispatch, in order to enable the President of the Commission to seriously consider Parliament’s opinion before the new Member is appointed.
Similarly, pursuant to the third paragraph of Article 246 TFEU, when the remainder of the Commission’s term of office is short, the President of the Commission will seriously consider Parliament’s position.
7. If the President of the Commission intends to reshuffle the allocation of responsibilities amongst the Members of the Commission during its term of office, pursuant to Article 248 TFEU, he/she shall inform Parliament in due time for the relevant parliamentary consultation with regard to those changes. The President’s decision to reshuffle the portfolios can take effect immediately.
8. When the Commission comes forward with a revision of the Code of Conduct for Commissioners relating to conflict of interest or ethical behaviour, it will seek Parliament’s opinion.
III. CONSTRUCTIVE DIALOGUE AND FLOW OF INFORMATION
(i) General provisions
9. The Commission guarantees that it will apply the basic principle of equal treatment for Parliament and the Council, especially as regards access to meetings and the provision of contributions or other information, in particular on legislative and budgetary matters.
10. Within its competences, the Commission shall take measures to better involve Parliament in such a way as to take Parliament’s views into account as far as possible in the area of the Common Foreign and Security Policy.
11. A number of arrangements are made to implement the ‘special partnership’ between Parliament and the Commission, as follows:
— the President of the Commission will at Parliament’s request meet the Conference of Presidents at least twice a year to discuss issues of common interest,
— the President of the Commission will have a regular dialogue with the President of Parliament on key horizontal issues and major legislative proposals. This dialogue should also include invitations to the President of Parliament to attend meetings of the College of Commissioners,
— the President of the Commission or the Vice-President responsible for interinstitutional relations is to be invited to attend meetings of the Conference of Presidents and the Conference of Committee Chairs when specific issues relating to plenary agenda-setting, interinstitutional relations between Parliament and the Commission and legislative and budgetary matters are to be discussed,
— meetings shall take place annually between the Conference of Presidents and the Conference of Committee Chairs and the College of Commissioners, to discuss relevant issues including the preparation and implementation of the Commission Work Programme,
— the Conference of Presidents and the Conference of Committee Chairs shall inform the Commission in due time of the results of their discussions having an interinstitutional dimension. Parliament shall also keep the Commission fully and regularly informed of the outcome of its meetings dealing with the preparation of the part-sessions, taking into account the Commission’s views. This is without prejudice to point 45,
— to ensure a regular flow of relevant information between the two Institutions, the Secretaries-General of Parliament and of the Commission shall meet on a regular basis.
12. Each Member of the Commission shall make sure that there is a regular and direct flow of information between the Member of the Commission and the chair of the relevant parliamentary committee.
13. The Commission shall not make public any legislative proposal or any significant initiative or decision before notifying Parliament thereof in writing.
On the basis of the Commission Work Programme, the two Institutions shall identify in advance, by common agreement, key initiatives to be presented in plenary. In principle, the Commission will present these initiatives first in plenary and only afterwards to the public.
Similarly, they shall identify those proposals and initiatives for which information is to be provided before the Conference of Presidents or conveyed, in an appropriate manner, to the relevant parliamentary committee or its chair.
These decisions shall be taken within the framework of the regular dialogue between the two Institutions, as provided for in point 11, and shall be updated on a regular basis, taking due account of any political developments.
14. If an internal Commission document – of which Parliament has not been informed pursuant to this Framework Agreement – is circulated outside the Institutions, the President of Parliament may request that the document concerned be forwarded to Parliament without delay, in order to communicate it to any Member of Parliament who may request it.
15. The Commission will provide full information and documentation on its meetings with national experts within the framework of its work on the preparation and implementation of Union legislation, including soft law and delegated acts. If so requested by Parliament, the Commission may also invite Parliament’s experts to attend those meetings.
The relevant provisions are laid down in Annex I.
16. Within 3 months after the adoption of a parliamentary resolution, the Commission shall provide information to Parliament in writing on action taken in response to specific requests addressed to it in Parliament’s resolutions, including in cases where it has not been able to follow Parliament’s views. That period may be shortened where a request is urgent. It may be extended by 1 month where a request calls for more exhaustive work and this is duly substantiated. Parliament will make sure that this information is widely distributed within the institution.
Parliament will endeavour to avoid asking oral or written questions concerning issues in respect of which the Commission has already informed Parliament of its position through a written follow-up communication.
The Commission shall commit itself to report on the concrete follow-up of any request to submit a proposal pursuant to Article 225 TFEU (legislative initiative report) within 3 months following adoption of the corresponding resolution in plenary. The Commission shall come forward with a legislative proposal at the latest after 1 year or shall include the proposal in its next year’s Work Programme. If the Commission does not submit a proposal, it shall give Parliament detailed explanations of the reasons.
The Commission shall also commit itself to a close and early cooperation with Parliament on any legislative initiative requests emanating from citizens’ initiatives.
As regards the discharge procedure, the specific provisions laid down in point 31 shall apply.
17. Where initiatives, recommendations or requests for legislative acts are made pursuant to Article 289(4) TFEU, the Commission shall inform Parliament, if so requested, of its position on those proposals before the relevant parliamentary committee.
18. The two Institutions agree to cooperate in the area of relations with national Parliaments.
Parliament and the Commission shall cooperate on the implementation of TFEU Protocol No 2 on the application of the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality. Such cooperation shall include arrangements related to any necessary translation of reasoned opinions presented by national Parliaments.
When the thresholds mentioned in Article 7 of TFEU Protocol No 2 are met, the Commission shall provide the translations of all the reasoned opinions presented by national Parliaments together with its position thereon.
19. The Commission shall inform Parliament of the list of its expert groups set up in order to assist the Commission in the exercise of its right of initiative. That list shall be updated on a regular basis and made public.
Within this framework, the Commission shall, in an appropriate manner, inform the competent parliamentary committee, at the specific and reasoned request of its chair, on the activities and composition of such groups.
20. The two Institutions shall hold, through the appropriate mechanisms, a constructive dialogue on questions concerning important administrative matters, notably on issues having direct implications for Parliament’s own administration.
21. Parliament will seek the opinion of the Commission when it comes forward with a revision of its Rules of Procedures concerning relations with the Commission.
22. Where confidentiality is invoked as regards any of the information forwarded pursuant to this Framework Agreement, the provisions laid down in Annex II shall be applied.
(ii) International agreements and enlargement
23. Parliament shall be immediately and fully informed at all stages of the negotiation and conclusion of international agreements, including the definition of negotiating directives. The Commission shall act in a manner to give full effect to its obligations pursuant to Article 218 TFEU, while respecting each Institution’s role in accordance with Article 13(2) TEU.
The Commission shall apply the arrangements set out in Annex III.
24. The information referred to in point 23 shall be provided to Parliament in sufficient time for it to be able to express its point of view if appropriate, and for the Commission to be able to take Parliament’s views as far as possible into account. This information shall, as a general rule, be provided to Parliament through the responsible parliamentary committee and, where appropriate, at a plenary sitting. In duly justified cases, it shall be provided to more than one parliamentary committee.
Parliament and the Commission undertake to establish appropriate procedures and safeguards for the forwarding of confidential information from the Commission to Parliament, in accordance with the provisions of Annex II.
25. The two Institutions acknowledge that, due to their different institutional roles, the Commission is to represent the European Union in international negotiations, with the exception of those concerning the Common Foreign and Security Policy and other cases as provided for in the Treaties.
Where the Commission represents the Union in international conferences, it shall, at Parliament’s request, facilitate the inclusion of a delegation of Members of the European Parliament as observers in Union delegations, so that it may be immediately and fully informed about the conference proceedings. The Commission undertakes, where applicable, to systematically inform the Parliament delegation about the outcome of negotiations.
Members of the European Parliament may not participate directly in these negotiations. Subject to the legal, technical and diplomatic possibilities, they may be granted observer status by the Commission. In the event of refusal, the Commission will inform Parliament of the reasons therefor.
In addition, the Commission shall facilitate the participation of Members of the European Parliament as observers in all relevant meetings under its responsibility before and after negotiation sessions.
26. Under the same conditions, the Commission shall keep Parliament systematically informed about, and facilitate access as observers for Members of the European Parliament forming part of Union delegations to, meetings of bodies set up by multilateral international agreements involving the Union, whenever such bodies are called upon to take decisions which require the consent of Parliament or the implementation of which may require the adoption of legal acts in accordance with the ordinary legislative procedure.
27. The Commission shall also give Parliament’s delegation included in Union delegations to international conferences access to use all Union delegation facilities on these occasions, in line with the general principle of good cooperation between the institutions and taking into account the available logistics.
The President of Parliament shall send to the President of the Commission a proposal for the inclusion of a Parliament delegation in the Union delegation no later than 4 weeks before the start of the conference, specifying the head of the Parliament delegation and the number of Members of the European Parliament to be included. In duly justified cases, this deadline can exceptionally be shortened.
The number of Members of the European Parliament included in the Parliament delegation and of supporting staff shall be proportionate to the overall size of the Union delegation.
28. The Commission shall keep Parliament fully informed of the progress of accession negotiations and in particular on major aspects and developments, so as to enable it to express its views in good time through the appropriate parliamentary procedures.
29. When Parliament adopts a recommendation on matters referred to in point 28, pursuant to Rule 90(4) of its Rules of Procedure, and when, for important reasons, the Commission decides that it cannot support such a recommendation, it shall explain the reasons before Parliament, at a plenary sitting or at the next meeting of the relevant parliamentary committee.
(iii) Budgetary implementation
30. Before making, at donors’ conferences, financial pledges which involve new financial undertakings and require the agreement of the budgetary authority, the Commission shall inform the budgetary authority and examine its remarks.
31. In connection with the annual discharge governed by Article 319 TFEU, the Commission shall forward all information necessary for supervising the implementation of the budget for the year in question, which the chair of the parliamentary committee responsible for the discharge procedure pursuant to Annex VII to Parliament’s Rules of Procedure requests from it for that purpose.
If new aspects come to light concerning previous years for which discharge has already been given, the Commission shall forward all the necessary information on the matter with a view to arriving at a solution acceptable to both sides.
(iv) Relationship with regulatory agencies
32. Nominees for the post of Executive Director of regulatory agencies should come to parliamentary committee hearings.
In addition, in the context of the discussions of the interinstitutional Working Group on Agencies set up in March 2009, the Commission and Parliament will aim at a common approach on the role and position of decentralised agencies in the Union’s institutional landscape, accompanied by common guidelines for the creation, structure and operation of those agencies, together with funding, budgetary, supervision and management issues.
IV. COOPERATION AS REGARDS LEGISLATIVE PROCEDURES AND PLANNING
(i) Commission Work Programme and the European Union’s programming
33. The Commission shall initiate the Union’s annual and multiannual programming, with a view to achieving interinstitutional agreements.
34. Every year the Commission shall present its Work Programme.
35. The two Institutions shall cooperate in accordance with the timetable set out in Annex IV.
The Commission shall take into account the priorities expressed by Parliament.
The Commission shall provide sufficient detail as to what is envisaged under each point in its Work Programme.
36. The Commission shall explain when it cannot deliver individual proposals in its Work Programme for the year in question or when it departs from it. The Vice-President of the Commission responsible for interinstitutional relations undertakes to report to the Conference of Committee Chairs regularly, outlining the political implementation of the Commission Work Programme for the year in question.
(ii) Procedures for the adoption of acts
37. The Commission undertakes to carefully examine amendments to its legislative proposals adopted by Parliament, with a view to taking them into account in any amended proposal.
When delivering its opinion on Parliament’s amendments pursuant to Article 294 TFEU, the Commission undertakes to take the utmost account of amendments adopted at second reading; should it decide, for important reasons and after consideration by the College, not to adopt or support such amendments, it shall explain its decision before Parliament, and in any event in its opinion on Parliament’s amendments by virtue of point (c) of Article 294(7) TFEU.
38. Parliament undertakes, when dealing with an initiative submitted by at least a quarter of Member States, in conformity with Article 76 TFEU, not to adopt any report in the relevant committee before receiving the Commission’s opinion on the initiative.
The Commission undertakes to issue its opinion on such an initiative no later than 10 weeks after it has been submitted.
39. The Commission shall provide a detailed explanation in due time before withdrawing any proposals on which Parliament has already expressed a position at first reading.
The Commission shall proceed with a review of all pending proposals at the beginning of the new Commission’s term of office, in order to politically confirm or withdraw them, taking due account of the views expressed by Parliament.
40. For special legislative procedures on which Parliament is to be consulted, including other procedures such as that laid down in Article 148 TFEU, the Commission:
(i) shall take measures to better involve Parliament in such a way as to take Parliament’s views into account as far as possible, in particular to ensure that Parliament has the necessary time to consider the Commission’s proposal;
(ii) shall ensure that Council bodies are reminded in good time not to reach a political agreement on its proposals before Parliament has adopted its opinion. It shall ask for discussion to be concluded at ministerial level after a reasonable period has been given to the members of the Council to examine Parliament’s opinion;
(iii) shall ensure that the Council adheres to the rules developed by the Court of Justice of the European Union requiring Parliament to be reconsulted if the Council substantially amends a Commission proposal. The Commission shall inform Parliament of any reminder to the Council of the need for reconsultation;
(iv) undertakes, if appropriate, to withdraw a legislative proposal that Parliament has rejected. If, for important reasons and after consideration by the College, the Commission decides to maintain its proposal, it shall explain the reasons for that decision in a statement before Parliament.
41. For its part, in order to improve legislative planning, Parliament undertakes:
(i) to plan the legislative sections of its agendas, bringing them into line with the current Commission Work Programme and with the resolutions it has adopted on that programme, in particular with a view to the improved planning of the priority debates;
(ii) to meet reasonable deadlines, in so far as is useful for the procedure, when adopting its position at first reading under the ordinary legislative procedure or its opinion under the consultation procedure;
(iii) as far as possible to appoint rapporteurs on future proposals as soon as the Commission Work Programme is adopted;
(iv) to consider requests for reconsultation as a matter of absolute priority provided that all the necessary information has been forwarded to it.
(iii) Issues linked to better lawmaking
42. The Commission shall ensure that its impact assessments are conducted under its responsibility by means of a transparent procedure which guarantees an independent assessment. Impact assessments shall be published in due time, taking into consideration a number of different scenarios, including a ‘do nothing’ option, and shall in principle be presented to the relevant parliamentary committee during the phase of the provision of information to national Parliaments under TFEU Protocols Nos 1 and 2.
43. In areas where Parliament is usually involved in the legislative process, the Commission shall use soft law, where appropriate and on a duly justified basis after having given Parliament the opportunity to express its views. The Commission shall provide a detailed explanation to Parliament on how its views have been taken into account when it adopts its proposal.
44. In order to ensure better monitoring of the transposition and application of Union law, the Commission and Parliament shall endeavour to include compulsory correlation tables and a binding time limit for transposition, which in directives should not normally exceed a period of 2 years.
In addition to specific reports and the annual report on the application of Union law, the Commission shall make available to Parliament summary information concerning all infringement procedures from the letter of formal notice, including, if so requested by Parliament, on a case-by-case basis and respecting the confidentiality rules, in particular those acknowledged by the Court of Justice of the European Union, on the issues to which the infringement procedure relates.
V. THE COMMISSION’S PARTICIPATION IN PARLIAMENTARY PROCEEDINGS
45. The Commission shall give priority to its presence, if requested, at the plenary sittings or meetings of other bodies of Parliament, as compared to other competing events or invitations.
In particular, the Commission shall ensure that, as a general rule, Members of the Commission are present at plenary sittings for agenda items falling under their responsibility, whenever Parliament so requests. This is applicable to the preliminary draft agendas approved by the Conference of Presidents during the previous part-session.
Parliament shall seek to ensure that, as a general rule, agenda items of the part-sessions falling under the responsibility of a Member of the Commission are grouped together.
46. At the request of Parliament, provision will be made for a regular Question Hour with the President of the Commission. This Question Hour will comprise two parts: the first with leaders of political groups or their representatives, conducted on an entirely spontaneous basis; the second devoted to a policy theme agreed upon in advance, at the latest on the Thursday before the relevant part-session, but without prepared questions.
Furthermore, a Question Hour with Members of the Commission, including the Vice-President for External Relations/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy shall be introduced, following the model of the Question Hour with the President of the Commission, with the aim of reforming the existing Question Time. This Question Hour shall relate to the portfolio of the respective Members of the Commission.
47. Members of the Commission shall be heard at their request.
Without prejudice to Article 230 TFEU, the two Institutions shall agree on general rules relating to the allocation of speaking time between the Institutions.
The two Institutions agree that their indicative allocation of speaking time should be respected.
48. With a view to ensuring the presence of Members of the Commission, Parliament undertakes to do its best to maintain its final draft agendas.
Where Parliament amends its final draft agenda, or where it moves items within the agenda within a part-session, Parliament shall immediately inform the Commission. The Commission shall use its best endeavours to ensure the presence of the Member of the Commission responsible.
49. The Commission may propose the inclusion of items on the agenda not later than the meeting of the Conference of Presidents that decides on the final draft agenda of a part-session. Parliament shall take the fullest account of such proposals.
50. Parliamentary committees shall seek to maintain their draft agendas and agendas.
Whenever a parliamentary committee amends its draft agenda or its agenda, the Commission shall be immediately informed thereof. In particular, parliamentary committees shall endeavour to respect a reasonable deadline so as to allow for the presence of Members of the Commission at their meetings.
Where the presence of a Member of the Commission is not explicitly required at a parliamentary committee meeting, the Commission shall ensure that it is represented by a competent official at an appropriate level.
Parliamentary committees will endeavour to coordinate their work, including avoiding parallel meetings on the same issue, and will endeavour not to deviate from the draft agenda, so that the Commission can ensure an appropriate level of representation.
If the presence of a high-level official (Director-General or Director) has been requested at a committee meeting dealing with a Commission proposal, the representative of the Commission shall be allowed to intervene.
VI. FINAL PROVISIONS
51. The Commission confirms its commitment to examine as soon as possible the legislative acts which were not adapted to the regulatory procedure with scrutiny before the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty, in order to assess whether those instruments need to be adapted to the regime of delegated acts introduced by Article 290 TFEU.
As a final goal, a coherent system of delegated and implementing acts, fully consistent with the Treaty, should be achieved through a progressive assessment of the nature and contents of measures currently subject to the regulatory procedure with scrutiny, in order to adapt them in due course to the regime laid down by Article 290 TFEU.
52. The provisions of this Framework Agreement complement the Interinstitutional Agreement on better lawmaking ( 1 ) without affecting it and do not prejudice any further revision thereof. Without prejudice to forthcoming negotiations between Parliament, the Commission and the Council, the two Institutions commit to agree on key changes in preparation of future negotiations on adaptation of the Interinstitutional Agreement on better lawmaking to the new provisions introduced by the Lisbon Treaty, taking into account current practices and this Framework Agreement.
They also agree on the need to reinforce the existing interinstitutional contact mechanism, at political and at technical level, in relation to better lawmaking, so as to ensure effective interinstitutional cooperation between Parliament, the Commission and the Council.
53. The Commission commits to initiate rapidly the Union’s annual and multiannual programming with a view to achieving interinstitutional agreements, in accordance with Article 17 TEU.
The Commission Work Programme is the Commission’s contribution to the Union’s annual and multiannual programming. Following its adoption by the Commission, a trialogue between Parliament, the Council and the Commission should take place with a view to reaching an agreement on the Union’s programming.
In this context and as soon as Parliament, the Council and the Commission have reached a common understanding on the Union’s programming, the two Institutions shall review the provisions of this Framework Agreement related to programming.
Parliament and the Commission call on the Council to engage as soon as possible in discussions on the Union’s programming as provided for in Article 17 TEU.
54. The practical implementation of this Framework Agreement and its Annexes shall be assessed periodically by the two Institutions. A review shall be carried out by the end of 2011, in the light of practical experience.
Commission meetings with national experts
This Annex lays down the modalities for implementation of point 15 of the Framework Agreement.
The provisions of point 15 of the Framework Agreement concern the following meetings:
(1) Commission meetings taking place within the framework of expert groups established by the Commission to which national authorities from all Member States are invited, where they concern the preparation and implementation of Union legislation, including soft law and delegated acts;
(2) ad hoc Commission meetings to which national experts from all Member States are invited, where they concern the preparation and implementation of Union legislation, including soft law and delegated acts.
Meetings of comitology committees are excluded, without prejudice to existing and future specific arrangements concerning the provision to Parliament of information concerning the exercise of the Commission’s implementing powers ( 2 ).
2. Information to be transmitted to Parliament
The Commission commits to send Parliament the same documentation it sends to national authorities in relation to the abovementioned meetings. The Commission will transmit those documents, including agendas, to a functional Parliament mailbox at the same time as they are sent to the national experts.
3. Invitation of Parliament’s experts
Upon being requested by Parliament, the Commission may decide to invite Parliament to send Parliament experts to attend Commission meetings with national experts as identified in point 1.
Forwarding of confidential information to Parliament
1.1. This Annex shall govern the forwarding to Parliament and the handling of confidential information, as defined in point 1.2, from the Commission in connection with the exercise of Parliament’s prerogatives and competences. The two Institutions shall act in accordance with their mutual duties of sincere cooperation, in a spirit of complete mutual trust and in the strictest conformity with the relevant Treaty provisions.
1.2. ‘Information’ shall mean any written or oral information, whatever the medium and whoever the author may be.
1.2.1. ‘Confidential information’ shall mean ‘EU classified information’ (EUCI) and non-classified ‘other confidential information’.
1.2.2. ‘EU classified information’ (EUCI) shall mean any information and material, classified as ‘TRÈS SECRET UE/EU TOP SECRET’, ‘SECRET UE’, ‘CONFIDENTIEL UE’ or ‘RESTREINT UE’ or bearing equivalent national or international classification markings, an unauthorised disclosure of which could cause varying degrees of prejudice to Union interests, or to one or more Member States, whether such information originates within the Union or is received from Member States, third States or international organisations.
TRÈS SECRET UE/EU TOP SECRET : this classification shall be applied only to information and material the unauthorised disclosure of which could cause exceptionally grave prejudice to the essential interests of the Union or of one or more of its Member States.
SECRET UE : this classification shall be applied only to information and material the unauthorised disclosure of which could seriously harm the essential interests of the Union or of one or more of its Member States.
CONFIDENTIEL UE : this classification shall be applied to information and material the unauthorised disclosure of which could harm the essential interests of the Union or of one or more of its Member States.
RESTREINT UE : this classification shall be applied to information and material the unauthorised disclosure of which could be disadvantageous to the interests of the Union or of one or more of its Member States.
1.2.3. ‘Other confidential information’ shall mean any other confidential information, including information covered by the obligation of professional secrecy, requested by Parliament and/or forwarded by the Commission.
1.3. The Commission shall ensure that Parliament is given access to confidential information, in accordance with the provisions of this Annex, whenever it receives from one of the parliamentary bodies or office-holders mentioned in point 1.4 a request relating to the forwarding of confidential information. Moreover, the Commission may forward any confidential information on its own initiative to Parliament in accordance with the provisions of this Annex.
1.4. In the context of this Annex, the following may request confidential information from the Commission:
— the President of Parliament,
— the chairs of the parliamentary committees concerned,
— the Bureau and the Conference of Presidents, and
— the head of Parliament’s delegation included in the Union delegation at an international conference.
1.5. Information on infringement procedures and procedures relating to competition, in so far as they are not covered by a final Commission decision or by a judgment of the Court of Justice of the European Union on the date when the request from one of the parliamentary bodies/office-holders mentioned in point 1.4 is received, and information relating to the protection of the Union’s financial interests, shall be excluded from the scope of this Annex. This is without prejudice to point 44 of the Framework Agreement and to the budgetary control rights of Parliament.
1.6. These provisions shall apply without prejudice to Decision 95/167/EC, Euratom, ECSC of the European Parliament, of the Council and of the Commission of 19 April 1995 on the detailed provisions governing the exercise of the European Parliament’s right of inquiry ( 3 ) and the relevant provisions of Commission Decision 1999/352/EC, ECSC, Euratom of 28 April 1999 establishing the European Anti-fraud Office (OLAF) ( 4 ).
2. General rules
2.1. At the request of one of the parliamentary bodies/office-holders referred to in point 1.4, the Commission shall forward to that parliamentary body/office-holder with all due despatch any confidential information required for the exercise of Parliament’s prerogatives and competences. In accordance with their respective powers and responsibilities, the two Institutions shall respect:
— fundamental human rights, including the right to a fair trial and the right to protection of privacy,
— provisions governing judicial and disciplinary procedures,
— protection of business secrecy and commercial relations,
— protection of the interests of the Union, in particular those relating to public safety, defence, international relations, monetary stability and financial interests.
In the event of a disagreement, the matter shall be referred to the Presidents of the two Institutions so that they may resolve the dispute.
Confidential information from a State, an institution or an international organisation shall be forwarded only with its consent.
2.2. EUCI shall be forwarded to, and handled and protected by, Parliament in compliance with the common minimum standards of security applied by other Union Institutions, in particular the Commission.
When classifying information for which it is the originator, the Commission will ensure that it applies appropriate levels of classification in line with the international standards and definitions and its internal rules, whilst taking due account of the need for Parliament to be able to access classified documents for the effective exercise of its competences and prerogatives.
2.3. In the event of any doubt as to the confidential nature of an item of information or its appropriate level of classification, or where it is necessary to lay down the appropriate arrangements for it to be forwarded in accordance with one of the options set out in point 3.2, the two Institutions shall consult each other without delay and before transmission of the document. In these consultations, Parliament shall be represented by the chair of the parliamentary body concerned, accompanied, where necessary, by the rapporteur, or the office-holder who submitted the request. The Commission shall be represented by the Member of the Commission with responsibility for that area, after consultation of the Member of the Commission responsible for security matters. In the event of a disagreement, the matter shall be referred to the Presidents of the two Institutions so that they may resolve the dispute.
2.4. If, at the end of the procedure referred to in point 2.3, no agreement has been reached, the President of Parliament, in response to a reasoned request from the parliamentary body/office-holder who submitted the request, shall call on the Commission to forward, within the appropriate deadline duly indicated, the confidential information in question, selecting the arrangements from among the options laid down in point 3.2 of this Annex. Before the expiry of that deadline, the Commission shall inform Parliament in writing of its final position, in respect of which Parliament reserves the right, if appropriate, to exercise its right to seek redress.
2.5. Access to EUCI shall be granted in accordance with applicable rules for personal security clearance.
2.5.1. Access to information classified as ‘TRÈS SECRET UE /EU TOP SECRET’, ‘SECRET UE’ and ‘CONFIDENTIEL UE’ may only be granted to Parliament officials and those employees of Parliament working for political groups to whom it is strictly necessary, who have been designated in advance by the parliamentary body/office-holder as having a need to know and who have been given an appropriate security clearance.
2.5.2. In light of Parliament’s prerogatives and competences, those Members who have not been given a personal security clearance shall be granted access to ‘CONFIDENTIEL UE’ documents under practical arrangements defined by common accord, including signature of a solemn declaration that they will not disclose the contents of those documents to any third person.
Access to ‘SECRET UE’ documents shall be granted to Members who have been given an appropriate personal security clearance.
2.5.3. Arrangements shall be made with the support of the Commission to ensure that the necessary contribution of national authorities within the framework of the clearance procedure can be obtained by Parliament as quickly as possible.
Details of the category or categories of persons who are to have access to the confidential information shall be communicated simultaneously with the request.
Prior to being granted access to such information each person shall be briefed on its confidentiality level and the resulting security obligations.
In the context of the review of this Annex and future security arrangements, as referred to in points 4.1 and 4.2, the issue of security clearances will be re-examined.
3. Arrangements for access to and the handling of confidential information
3.1. Confidential information forwarded in accordance with the procedures set out in point 2.3 and, where appropriate, point 2.4 shall be made available, on the responsibility of the President or of a Member of the Commission, to the parliamentary body/office-holder who submitted the request, in accordance with the following conditions:
Parliament and the Commission will ensure the registration and the traceability of confidential information.
More specifically, EUCI classified as ‘CONFIDENTIEL UE’ and ‘SECRET UE’ shall be forwarded from the Commission’s Secretariat General central registry to the equivalent competent Parliament service who will be responsible for making it available under the agreed arrangements to the parliamentary body/office-holder who submitted the request.
The forwarding of EUCI classified as ‘TRÈS SECRET UE/EU TOP SECRET’ shall be subject to further arrangements, agreed between the Commission and the parliamentary body/office-holder who submitted the request, aimed at ensuring a level of protection commensurate with that classification.
3.2. Without prejudice to the provisions of points 2.2 and 2.4 and the future security arrangements referred to in point 4.1, access and the arrangements designed to preserve the confidentiality of the information shall be laid down by common accord before the information is forwarded. That accord between the Member of the Commission with responsibility for the policy area involved and the parliamentary body (represented by its chair)/office-holder who submitted the request, shall provide for the selection of one of the options set out in points 3.2.1 and 3.2.2 in order to ensure the appropriate level of confidentiality.
3.2.1. Regarding the addressees of confidential information, provision should be made for one of the following options:
— information intended for the President of Parliament alone, in instances justified on absolutely exceptional grounds,
— the Bureau and/or the Conference of Presidents,
— the chair and rapporteur of the relevant parliamentary committee,
— all members (full and substitute) of the relevant parliamentary committee,
— all Members of the European Parliament.
The confidential information in question may not be published or forwarded to any other addressee without the consent of the Commission.
3.2.2. Regarding the arrangements for the handling of confidential information, provision should be made for the following options:
(a) examination of documents in a secure reading room if the information is classified as ‘CONFIDENTIEL UE’ and above;
(b) holding the meeting in camera, attended only by the members of the Bureau, the members of the Conference of Presidents or full members and substitute members of the competent parliamentary committee as well as by Parliament officials and those Parliament employees working for political groups who have been designated in advance by the chair as having a need to know and whose presence is strictly necessary, provided they have been given the required level of security clearance, taking into account the following conditions:
— any documents may be numbered, distributed at the beginning of the meeting and collected again at the end. No notes of those documents and no photocopies thereof may be taken,
— the minutes of the meeting shall make no mention of the discussion of the item taken under the confidential procedure.
Before transmission, all personal data may be expunged from the documents.
Confidential information provided orally to recipients in Parliament shall be subject to the equivalent level of protection as that accorded to confidential information provided in written form. This may include a solemn declaration by recipients of that information not to divulge its contents to any third person.
3.2.3. When written information is to be examined in a secure reading room, Parliament shall ensure that the following arrangements are in place:
— a secure storage system for confidential information,
— a secure reading room without photocopying machines, telephones, fax facilities, scanners or any other technical equipment for the reproduction and transmission of documents etc.,
— security provisions governing access to the reading room, including the requirements of signature in an access register and a solemn declaration not to disseminate the confidential information examined.
3.2.4. The above does not preclude other equivalent arrangements agreed between the Institutions.
3.3. In the event of non-compliance with these arrangements, the provisions relating to sanctions of Members set out in Annex VIII to Parliament’s Rules of Procedure and, in respect of Parliament officials and other employees, the applicable provisions of Article 86 of the Staff Regulations ( 5 ) or Article 49 of the Conditions of employment of other servants of the European Communities shall apply.
4. Final provisions
4.1. The Commission and Parliament shall take all the measures required for the implementation of the provisions of this Annex.
To that end, the competent services of the Commission and of Parliament shall closely coordinate the implementation of this Annex. This shall include the verification of traceability of confidential information and periodic joint monitoring of security arrangements and standards applied.
Parliament undertakes to adapt, where necessary, its internal provisions so as to implement the security rules for confidential information laid down in this Annex.
Parliament undertakes to adopt as soon as possible its future security arrangements and to verify those arrangements by common accord with the Commission, with a view to establishing equivalence of security standards. This will give effect to this Annex with regard to:
— technical security provisions and standards regarding the handling and storage of confidential information, including security measures in the field of physical, personnel, document and IT security,
— the establishment of a specially established oversight committee, composed of appropriately cleared Members for the handling of EUCI classified as ‘TRÈS SECRET UE/EU TOP SECRET’.
4.2. Parliament and the Commission will review this Annex and, where necessary, adapt it, no later than at the time of the review referred to in point 54 of the Framework Agreement, in light of developments concerning:
— future security arrangements involving Parliament and the Commission,
— other agreements or legal acts relevant for the forwarding of information between the Institutions.
Negotiation and conclusion of international agreements
This Annex lays down detailed arrangements for the provision of information to Parliament concerning the negotiation and conclusion of international agreements as referred to in points 23, 24 and 25 of the Framework Agreement.
1. The Commission shall inform Parliament about its intention to propose the start of negotiations at the same time as it informs the Council.
2. In line with the provisions of point 24 of the Framework Agreement, when the Commission proposes draft negotiating directives with a view to their adoption by the Council, it shall at the same time present them to Parliament.
3. The Commission shall take due account of Parliament’s comments throughout the negotiations.
4. In line with the provisions of point 23 of the Framework Agreement, the Commission shall keep Parliament regularly and promptly informed about the conduct of negotiations until the agreement is initialled, and explain whether and how Parliament’s comments were incorporated in the texts under negotiation and if not why.
5. In the case of international agreements the conclusion of which requires Parliament’s consent, the Commission shall provide to Parliament during the negotiation process all relevant information that it also provides to the Council (or to the special committee appointed by the Council). This shall include draft amendments to adopted negotiating directives, draft negotiating texts, agreed articles, the agreed date for initialling the agreement and the text of the agreement to be initialled. The Commission shall also transmit to Parliament, as it does to the Council (or to the special committee appointed by the Council), any relevant documents received from third parties, subject to the originator’s consent. The Commission shall keep the responsible parliamentary committee informed about developments in the negotiations and, in particular, explain how Parliament’s views have been taken into account.
6. In the case of international agreements the conclusion of which does not require Parliament’s consent, the Commission shall ensure that Parliament is immediately and fully informed, by providing information covering at least the draft negotiating directives, the adopted negotiating directives, the subsequent conduct of negotiations and the conclusion of the negotiations.
7. In line with the provisions of point 24 of the Framework Agreement, the Commission shall give thorough information to Parliament in due time when an international agreement is initialled, and shall inform Parliament as early as possible when it intends to propose its provisional application to the Council and of the reasons therefor, unless reasons of urgency preclude it from doing so.
8. The Commission shall inform the Council and Parliament simultaneously and in due time of its intention to propose to the Council the suspension of an international agreement and of the reasons therefor.
9. For international agreements which would fall under the consent procedure provided for by the TFEU, the Commission shall also keep Parliament fully informed before approving modifications to an agreement which are authorised by the Council, by way of derogation, in accordance with Article 218(7) TFEU.
Timetable for the Commission Work Programme
The Commission Work Programme shall be accompanied by a list of legislative and non-legislative proposals for the following years. The Commission Work Programme covers the next year in question, and provides a detailed indication of the Commission’s priorities for the subsequent years. The Commission Work Programme can thus be the basis for a structured dialogue with Parliament, with a view to seeking a common understanding.
The Commission Work Programme shall also include planned initiatives on soft law, withdrawals and simplification.
1. In the first semester of a given year, Members of the Commission shall undertake an ongoing regular dialogue with the corresponding parliamentary committees on the implementation of the Commission Work Programme for that year and on the preparation of the future Commission Work Programme. On the basis of that dialogue each parliamentary committee shall report on the outcome thereof to the Conference of Committee Chairs.
2. In parallel the Conference of Committee Chairs shall hold a regular exchange of views with the Vice-President of the Commission responsible for interinstitutional relations, in order to assess the state of implementation of the current Commission Work Programme, discuss the preparation of the future Commission Work Programme and take stock of the results of the ongoing bilateral dialogue between the parliamentary committees concerned and relevant Members of the Commission.
3. In June, the Conference of Committees Chairs shall submit a summary report to the Conference of Presidents, which should include results of the screening of the implementation of the Commission Work Programme as well as Parliament’s priorities for the forthcoming Commission Work Programme, and Parliament shall inform the Commission thereof.
4. On the basis of that summary report, Parliament shall adopt a resolution at the July part-session, outlining its position and including in particular requests based on legislative initiative reports.
5. Each year in the first part-session of September, a State of the Union debate will be held in which the President of the Commission shall deliver an address, taking stock of the current year and looking ahead to priorities for the following years. To that end, the President of the Commission will in parallel set out in writing to Parliament the main elements guiding the preparation of the Commission Work Programme for the following year.
6. From the start of September, the competent parliamentary committees and the relevant Members of the Commission may meet for a more detailed exchange of views on future priorities in each policy area. These meetings shall be rounded off by a meeting between the Conference of Committee Chairs and the College of Commissioners and by a meeting between the Conference of Presidents and the President of the Commission, as appropriate.
7. In October, the Commission shall adopt its Work Programme for the following year. Subsequently, the President of the Commission shall present that Work Programme to Parliament at an appropriate level.
8. Parliament may hold a debate and adopt a resolution at the December part-session.
9. This timetable shall be applied to each regular programming cycle, except for Parliament election years coinciding with the end of the Commission’s term of office.
10. This timetable shall not prejudice any future agreement on interinstitutional programming.
( 1 ) OJ C 321, 31.12.2003, p. 1.
( 2 ) The information to be provided to Parliament on the work of comitology committees and Parliament’s prerogatives in the operation of comitology procedures are clearly defined in other instruments: (1) Council Decision 1999/468/EC of 28 June 1999 laying down the procedures for the exercise of implementing powers (OJ L 184, 17.7.1999, p. 23); (2) the interinstitutional agreement of 3 June 2008 between Parliament and the Commission on comitology procedures; and (3) instruments necessary for the implementation of Article 291 TFEU.
( 3 ) OJ L 113, 19.5.1995, p. 1.
( 4 ) OJ L 136, 31.5.1999, p. 20.
( 5 ) Regulation (EEC, Euratom, ECSC) No 259/68 of the Council of 29 February 1968 laying down the Staff Regulations of Officials and the Conditions of employment of other servants of the European Communities and instituting special measures temporarily applicable to officials of the Commission.