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Document 51998IP0460

Resolution on the Commission's report to the European Council - 'Better lawmaking 1997' (COM(97)0626 C4-0656/97)

OJ C 98, 9.4.1999, p. 500 (ES, DA, DE, EL, EN, FR, IT, NL, PT, FI, SV)


Resolution on the Commission's report to the European Council - 'Better lawmaking 1997' (COM(97)0626 C4-0656/97)

Official Journal C 098 , 09/04/1999 P. 0500


Resolution on the Commission's report to the European Council - 'Better lawmaking 1997' (COM(97)0626 - C4-0656/97)

The European Parliament,

- having regard to the Commission's report (COM(97)0626 - C4-0656/97),

- having regard to the Treaty establishing the European Community, in particular Article 3b thereof,

- having regard to the Treaty of Amsterdam, in particular Protocol No 7 on the application of the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality,

- having regard to the conclusions of the Edinburgh European Council of 11 and 12 December 1992 and the Cardiff European Council of 15 and 16 June 1998,

- having regard to the interinstitutional agreement of 25 October 1993 between Parliament, the Council and the Commission on procedures for implementing the principle of subsidiarity ((OJ C 329, 6.12.1993, p. 135.)),

- having regard to its resolution of 13 May 1997 on the application of the subsidiarity principle ((OJ C 167, 2.6.1997, p. 34.)),

- having regard to the report of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Citizens' Rights and the opinion of the Committee on Institutional Affairs (A4-0460/98),

A. whereas the principle of subsidiarity is a political principle of constitutional status and its inclusion in the Treaty is an invitation for those concerned to seek maximum effectiveness in selecting the appropriate decision-making level;

B. whereas the principle of subsidiarity cannot be applied to areas falling within the exclusive competence of the Community,

C. whereas the principle of subsidiarity should be applied in such a way as to preserve the acquis communautaire in its entirety and, consequently, a reversal of Community integration is contrary to the Treaty,

D. whereas the principle of subsidiarity is one of a number of principles in the Treaty and it must not become an obstacle to the application of other principles, in particular the principle of solidarity arising from the objective of economic and social cohesion,

E. whereas the principle of proportionality requires the Community to restrict its action to what is necessary to achieve the objectives set by the Treaty,

F. whereas application of the principle of proportionality should not be to the detriment of the adoption of directives establishing precise objectives and creating legal obligations for the Member States,

G. mindful of the problems posed by the lack of a hierarchy of norms in the nomenclature of Community acts,

1. Points out that the requirement to produce high-quality legislation concerns both the formal quality of texts and their substance and that the drafting of simpler and clearer legislation in accordance with the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality is a condition which will determine its acceptance and proper application by citizens;

2. Deplores, however, that the Commission deals in a single document with the implementation of the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality on the one hand and with matters relating to the formal quality of texts on the other hand, and considers such an approach prejudicial to in-depth analysis of the various issues;

3. Recalls that the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality constitute mandatory legal rules of a constitutional nature binding on the institutions and the Member States and that the principle of subsidiarity does not apply in areas falling within the exclusive competence of the Community;

4. Welcomes the fact that Protocol No 7 to the Treaty of Amsterdam lays down that 'the application of the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality shall respect the general provisions and the objectives of the Treaty, particularly as regards the maintaining in full of the acquis communautaire and the institutional balance' and that 'it shall not affect the principles developed by the Court of Justice regarding the relationship between national and Community law' (point 2);

5. Notes with satisfaction that the protocol does not regard the principle of subsidiarity as a one-way principle working systematically to the detriment of the Community but as a 'dynamic concept' allowing 'Community action within the limits of its powers to be expanded where circumstances so require, and conversely, to be restricted or discontinued where it is no longer justified' (point 3);

6. Deplores the fact that, even though Parliament called upon it to do so in its resolution of 13 May 1997, the Commission has not carried out a detailed analysis with a view to demonstrating that the principle of subsidiarity has not been applied to the detriment of the acquis communautaire;

7. Invites the Council to act on the pending legislative proposals drawn up by the Commission on the subject of company law, the free movement of persons and taxation;

8. Welcomes the fact that the Commission has adopted a practical approach to the principle of subsidiarity, making a systematic case-by-case evaluation whenever action is envisaged, and that it thus demonstrates the legitimacy of its action by identifying both the Community dimension of the issue and the value added in terms of the effectiveness of Community action;

9. Considers that certain problems such as that encountered at national and regional levels of the diminishing scope for action of political decision-makers should not be tackled by reducing Community activities but, on the contrary, by expanding them in a constructive way;

10. Notes that the Commission withdrew 'about 30' legislative proposals considered obsolete in 1997 and asks that, in future, the Commission inform Parliament in advance in this connection;

11. Reiterates its concern as regards the growing tendency to present proposals for 'framework directives' (e.g. in the areas of water policy, VAT applied to telecommunications services, the transport of dangerous goods by waterway, energy product taxation and airport taxes) following the failure of more ambitious proposals and emphasises the risk of thereby creating law of a status which is uncertain, less mandatory ('soft law') and less sure, which results in fictitious harmonisation and in uncertain transposition into the national legal systems; stresses, moreover, that there is a risk of creating confusion between directives and recommendations as defined in Article 189 of the EC Treaty;

12. Welcomes in principle the Commission's implementation of the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality and its comprehensive pre-legislative preparatory work and consultation; however, the Commission should ensure that the proposals agreed with Parliament in the annual legislative programme are actually presented within the set period;

13. Notes, at the same time, with concern the Commission's excessive production of non-legislative documents (Green and White Papers, communications and interpretative notes) and the growing imbalance between such activities and legislative activity, on which the Commission has a sole right of initiative;

14. Calls on the European Council to initiate a study, with a view to the forthcoming institutional reforms, on the matter of revising the nomenclature of Community acts and introducing a hierarchy of norms;

15. Calls on the Commission also to provide details of the trend in the number of rules other than directives, such as implementing rules etc.;

16. Recalls that the principle of subsidiarity is one political principle among others and that, in particular, it should not be invoked in order to restrict Community action aimed at ensuring solidarity between regions in accordance with the objective of economic and social cohesion;

17. Invites the Council to ensure that the search for a compromise does not lead to the legislative proposals submitted to it being weakened or rendered ambiguous;

18. Calls furthermore on the Council to abandon the practice of annexing declarations to legislation and recalls in this respect that the Court of Justice categorically refuses to take these declarations into account in interpreting legislation where the provisions of the act in question do not explicitly refer to them;

19. Invites the Commission and Council to ensure that levels of protection in the area of the environment, product quality and the health and safety of workers are not lowered under the guise of legislative simplification;

20. Calls on the Commission to continue its efforts in the area of simplification, formal consolidation, informal consolidation and improving access to Community legislation but not to submit, concomitantly and separately, proposals for the consolidation and substantial amendment of the same text;

21. Considers it desirable for legislative proposals and preparatory documents to be made available to the national parliaments in good time in order to enable them, if they so wish, to express opinions on certain subjects and so strengthen cooperative relations with the European Parliament; welcomes the fact that the protocol to the Treaty of Amsterdam on the role of national parliaments in the European Union contains provisions to this effect;

22. Invites the national parliaments, as regards their own responsibilities and those of the governments accountable to them, to ensure the correct and timely transposition of Community directives into national law;

23. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Commission, the Council, the parliaments of the Member States and the Committee of the Regions.