Friday, March 14, 2014
Chairman's (Omni Shoreham)
This paper analyses the European Parliament’s “new” powers in the budgetary process after the coming into force of the Lisbon treaty. Taking the US Congress as a “benchmark” we look into the new competences as well as the de facto capabilities of the European Parliament in deciding about EU spending. Apart from assessing the constitutional state of the art, we concentrate on the analytic capacities available to the European Parliament, and explore the quality of its access to authoritative and timely information. Since legislatures typically operate through committees, we focus particularly on whether the relevant committees with resource-allocation purview have adequate analytic capacities to compete with the executive institutions engaged in resource allocation. Our analysis based on documentary analysis as well as expert interviews with MEPs, officials of the European Parliament, the Council and the European Commission brings to light that the European Parliament’s powers in the budgetary process have been de facto substantially “reduced”. With the abolishment of the (contested) distinction between obligatory and non-obligatory spending the EP has formally lost his “last word” in the area of “non-obligatory” spending. Even worse for the Parliament: in the technically complex context of budgetary politics its intuitional capacities fall far short from being effective when compared to the information processes capacities of the Commission and the Council (back up by the national administrations).Bringing in a comparison with the US Congress the paper finally points to options the European Parliament might have to improve its situation.