Wednesday, 30 December 2009

The Questions - Europe 2010

Washminster is extending its coverage to "Europe" in 2010. Not only will transatlantic issues be considered - but the working of the institutions of the EU and other European bodies (NATO, Council of Europe, OSCE) - and particularly the European Parliament (the only directly elected institution within the EU) - will be discussed.

The Lisbon Treaty has now come into force. This gives a greater role to the European Parliament within the EU legislative system. (Further details here). The Parliament began life as a talking shop - it was the Council of Ministers which was the legislative body. The Commission would propose legislation, and the Council (made up of members of national Executives) who decided if the proposed legislation would be passed, amended or blocked. Over a series of treaties the Parliament increased its role - so now - for almost all matters - the Parliament is co-legislator. This year will see how the Parliament rises to the challenges of its increased powers.

In January the Parliament will hold hearings with the nominees for the new Commisssion. This will be held between 11th & 19th January. A vote on the Commission will be held around 1pm (noon, GMT - 07.00am) on Tuesday 26th January.

While it was elected in 2009 for a five year period - national elections will impact the makeup of the Parliament. MEPs who are appointed to ministerial office at home must resign their seats. The list systems in operation mean that by-elections (special elections) are not required, the next available person on the party list takes over. [Hence, theoretically, I could become an MEP before 2014 - should Glenis Willmott stand down (and Roy Kennedy and Kathy Salt either be unable to take her place - or themselves subsequently stand down from the parliament) - a very unlikely scenario!].

As with parliaments around the world - the economy; energy security and consumer rights are likely to be key issues in 2010.