Changes to internal rules on how the EP operates and how to draft legislation and use MEPs’ allowances in a more transparent way were approved in committee on Thursday.
The key changes adopted by the Constitutional Affairs Committee relate to Members’ standards of conduct (including transparency rules and measures to prevent harassment), intergroups, parliamentary questions and interpellations and the procedure related to European political parties and foundations.
New provisions aiming at increasing transparency are also introduced. The key actors of the legislative process – rapporteurs, shadow rapporteurs and committee chairs – would have to publish online all scheduled meetings with interest representatives falling under the scope of the Transparency Register. The other MEPs should also publish online all scheduled meetings with interest representatives. Parliament’s website will have to be technically adapted in order to allow the Members to publish public information on their use of the General Expenditure Allowance.
Standards of conduct
The new rules provide that Members must refrain from “improper behaviour” (for example from displaying banners at the plenary sittings) and “offensive language” (for example defamation, hate speech or inciting discrimination), as well as from any type of psychological or sexual harassment. A serious breach of these rules by a Member may entail possible sanctions.
European political parties and foundations
According to the treaties, “political parties at European level contribute to forming European political awareness and to expressing the will of citizens of the Union”. An organisation has to comply with specific conditions to qualify as and gain the status of a European political party or European foundation. The members of the Constitutional Affairs Committee defined the conditions according to which a group of at least 50 citizens can request that the European Parliament asks the Authority for European political parties and Foundations to verify whether a given European political party or foundation fulfils these requirements.
The reform also includes measures on parliamentary questions, in particular interpellations to the Council and the European Commission, Committees’ consultations on confidential information, rules on standing Committees and the rule on parliamentary Intergroups.
The proposal has been drafted by a working group with representatives from all the political groups. The report drafted by Richard Corbett (S&D, UK) was approved unanimously.
“This set of revisions to Parliament’s rulebook continues the step-by-step process of making parliament more effective, efficient and transparent. It has grown out of the first experience of the general revision of the rules adopted in December 2016.” – said the rapporteur Richard Corbett (S&D, UK).
The whole House should vote on the proposals in January. The approved changes will enter into force on the first day of the part-session following their adoption in plenary meeting, except for some provisions referring to the MEPs’ conduct, standing committees, and committee office holders that should apply to the European Parliament after the 2019 elections.