November 30, 2018
It does not happen so often that an editorialist begins his piece by requesting readers, first of all, to read the articles on the following pages. Such is the case here! The articles published on pages 2 and 3 of this Newsletter are very illuminating in exposing the bureaucratic impasse the EU finds itself in.
Manipulating the border between delegated acts and implementing acts: EP demands in the CAP reform
Delegated acts and implementing acts are different in nature: the former are quasi-legislative, the latter are administrative and technical. They also differ in the way they are adopted. Delegated acts are proposed AND adopted by the Commission subject to a potential veto by the Parliament or the Council. By contrast, implementing acts rely on comitology committees, with a possible appeal. In short, the European Parliament dislikes implementing acts because it has no role.
The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), technical by nature, has many implementing acts (via the old management committees). In the latest reform proposal, MEP Ulrike Mueller proposes to convert a substantial number of implementing acts into delegated acts!
This legal distortion – if accepted, which is possible – would upset the balance of power between the Commission/EP/Council triangle, adding uncertainty and confusion to a system that is already incomprehensible to most people.
Do Expert Groups have to respect gender equality?
Once again we see the damage caused by the grouping of a disparate committee under the generic name ‘Expert Groups’. Are they active upstream, or downstream? Are they even comitology committees? Recently an experienced academic spoke before the European Parliament to assess the functioning of horizontal rules for Expert Groups: the role of civil society, transparency of discussions and balance between men and women.
These principles may be sound and are applied without distinction, but they only add to the confusion. Should we make talks in the Examination Committee public? Frankly, I do not think so; without confidentiality, you cannot have negotiations. Can they respect gender equality? One of the priorities is to adopt the vocabulary to every type of body by avoiding portmanteaus, ‘Expert Groups’ being the best example.
In the post-Brexit era, the British will have one foot outside and one foot inside comitology committees
Page 202 of the draft EU-UK divorce treaty is interesting: during the transition period, the UK will be invited exceptionally to comitology/Expert Group meetings. In some cases, their presence will be required, in particular when individual measures affecting the UK or UK nationals are debated. But in all cases, the British representatives will have no voting rights.
One of the key problems of Brexit lies in the transition period, for which the duration seems to be extending as the deadline approaches. Before summer we were talking about 18 months; today we talk about doubling it. But since they have pushed all the difficulties into the transition period (WTO, EU-UK free trade agreement, customs union, fisheries, Single Sky, etc.), it surely cannot be less than 10, if not 15 years.
The system of passive British participation in committees and Expert Groups, which manage all aspects of EU policy, would paralyse the United Kingdom in the defense of their own legitimate interests. Accepting the withdrawal treaty in its current form would mean the British buying themselves a pig in a poke (or buying a cat in a bag, to use the German expression).
Brexit, Brex-in, Brex-out…there will only be a disappointment!
The three scenarios on the table are all negative. The hard Brexiters led by Boris Johnson are seeing their vision of a ‘Global Britain’ and a UK-US free trade agreement slip away. Soft Brexiters like Theresa May are proposing a vassal UK under a dominant EU. And how can Remainers sell the idea of staying in an EU so badly led and run?
30 months after the fateful and poorly-prepared referendum, no attempt has been made to convince the UK to stay in the EU. Far from considering European governance as a central parameter to be urgently improved, everything has been done to reinforce de facto the complexity, opacity, dilution, and laxity of EU authorities, as cases cited in this month’s Newsletter illustrate.
It is good to have a pro-European leader like President Macron, but alongside his geo-political vision, it would be nice to see Jupiter come down from Olympus to undertake an in-depth reform of day-to-day EU governance.Daniel Gueguen