The European Commission is accusing the European Parliament of misinterpreting parts of an accord on closer working ties between the two institutions that is supposed to apply for the next five years.
A Commission source has said that the Parliament’s constitutional affairs committee had “pushed the envelope” and gone too far in claiming that MEPs would have automatic access to sit in on international negotiations led by the Commission on behalf of the EU.
A report drafted by Paulo Rangel, a Portuguese centre-right MEP, on the framework agreement between the Commission and the Parliament, says that MEPs should be allowed to participate in international negotiations that lead to accords that need the backing of the Parliament. It adds that “only in exceptional cases” should MEPs be refused a seat at such talks by the Commission.
The Commission source said that the Commission interpreted the accord differently, saying that it would consider MEPs’ participation only on a “case-by-case basis”. Attendance would be permitted if “politically, diplomatically and logistically possible”.
This week the Commission gave its approval for MEPs to attend talks on an international convention on biodiversity in Nagoya, Japan. But the Commission argues that having MEPs at certain sensitive talks, such as free-trade negotiations, could cause confusion and diplomatic problems.
The full Parliament is expected to approve the agreement, the fruit of 11 months of negotiations between MEPs and Maroš Šefc?ovic?, the European commissioner in charge of inter-institutional relations, on Wednesday (20 October).
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The Commission fears that if Rangel’s report is passed as it stands, the Council of Ministers, which has been against the accord, especially MEPs’ participation in EU delegations at negotiations, might try to get the European Court of Justice to annul it.
The new framework agreement was part of Barroso’s efforts to develop a “special partnership” with the Parliament during his second term, with closer co-operation between the political leaderships of the two institutions to secure better and faster results.