Increased role and visibility of the European Parliament culminating in the collapse of the European Commission in 1999
Post Amsterdam, co-decision increased from 15-38 policy areas. Greater workload prompts close cooperation between Council and Parliament, early meetings with rapporteurs and committees
First rejections by EU voters. Denmark rejects the Maastricht treaty and then the Euro. Irish voters reject the Nice Treaty. France and the Netherlands block the Constitutional treaty
Reform treaty of 2007 - institutions Council decisions needs double majority (55% of member states and 65% of the EU's). But this is delayed until 2014 and the ‘Ioannina clause’ allows a transition period until 2017 President of the Council no longer rotates, one person holds this role for a two-and-a-half years renewable term College of Commissioners drops from 27 to 15 by 2014; MEPs limited to maximum of 750 (> 6 and < 96 per country), plus the Parliament President (750+1) EU has legal personality Exit clause was introduced making it possible to leave the EU.
Reform treaty of 2007 - policies Strengthens national parliaments can raise objections against draft EU legislation (so-called orange card) as a reinforced control mechanism for the principle of subsidiarity; QMV extended voting to 40 policy areas, especially those relating to as asylum, immigration, police cooperation and judicial co-operation in criminal matters; Reference to new challenges, such as globalisation, climate change and energy security UK gets some opt-outs (asylum, criminal justice) Charter of Fundamental Rights replaced by a short cross-reference with the same legal value but will not be binding in the UK and Poland.
Funded by the EU for their co-regulatory role in ’Social Dialogue’. Under this process the Commission looks for agreement on new measures by submitting proposals to the social partners. If the partners agree to negotiate, they are given a defined period in which to reach a common decision. If they are successful, the wording of their agreement is incorporated into a subsequent Directive. If they are not, the Commission is free to decide whether it wants to shelve proposals, or pursue them through the traditional decision-making channels.
Can be classified by academic approach or political/economic viewpoint. Often receive core funding from the Commission under the budget lines devoted to ‘debate’ on European integration. Trustees are usually key figures e.g former Commissioners, MEPs, Ministers etc
Most have corporate members and/or industry funding
Trends: Huge increase in well funded, neo-liberal, free-market economics structures with close links to the US
Pro European integration - CEPS, EPC, Breugel, Notre Europe. More sceptical include CNE, Bruges group
Blurring of the lines lobbying and think-tanks. Emergence of ‘think-do’ tanks such as The Centre which combines classic consultancy for private clients with policy debate or ‘do-tanks’ ConsumerPowerhouse.
Information services - overview of EU institutions, tracking policy and political events
Introductions to policy-makers, ‘meet and greet ‘events
Networking - meeting the other key actors, putting faces to the names, stakeholder analysis
Visibility - raising the profile of your organisation, ensuring that your voice is heard
Lobbying - getting your viewpoints across and providing detailed expertise (amendments for legislation, data and statistics, writing reports)
How does the alcohol industry operate in Brussels?
The alcohol industry is large, powerful, incredibly well connected and with deep pockets. Producers are integrated into a wide range of generalist, specialist and sectoral trade associations.
Specific drinks sectors are also strongly identified with national cultures and traditions. As such they are championed by MEPs, regional representations and national governments.
Alcohol producers - as businesses - have high level access and support in EU institutions as ‘world class enterprises’ and sources of ‘economic growth’.
Uncovering the lobbying In late 2006 , MEP Caroline Lucas asked the Commission to reveal how many official and unofficial meetings took place with alcohol industry lobbyists. Answer: Not possible without an expensive and disproportionately difficult admin job. November 2007 , CFI rules that the Commission cannot use privacy laws to hide the identity of lobbyists it meets. Case brought by the German beer industry to find out who influenced the Commission to drop an investigation into whether a UK law limiting certain beer imports was compatible with EU law.
Multiple points of entry EU Institutions Drinks Trade association National Chambers of Commerce EP interest group (beer) Food industry trade association Business trade association Retail trade associations Alcohol and Health Forum Advisory Committees for EU agencies Advertising Self Regulation bodies Advertiser and Brand networks Social Aspect organisations Think-tanks
The European Parliament Beer Club, formed in 1995. > 170 MEP members … biggest group of its kind at the European Parliament.
Members believe that Europe should have and retain a strong brewing sector and support the positive aspects of beer culture .
The Beer Club organises major symposiums on beer and health and meetings and seminars with MEPs and representatives from The Brewers of Europe - on issues such as the excise rates review and the EU Communication on alcohol and health.
Source: Beer Club website
Section III: Finding a way through the information labyrinth
IDEA database, http://europa.eu/whoiswho/index.htm
An electronic directory of the organisation charts of the EU institutions, bodies and agencies in the eleven official EU languages. Updated weekly.Can be consulted the directory in three ways: by organisation (Directorate or Department), by individual or by position
TR Comment: data varies considerably. Ranges from just a name to complete telephone, fax and email contacts .
The database is part of the Commission's commitment to provide better information about its consultation processes.
Provides information about the Commission's formal or structured consultative bodies, in which civil society organisations participate.Also includes a directory of non-profit making civil society organisations organised at European level. The directory is a voluntary register, is intended only for information purposes. Inclusion in the directory does not constitute any recognition on the part of the Commission.
European Parliament legislative observatory (OEIL)
Free registration allows use of the procedure tracking instrument - update emails to inform you of any change on that dossier
Lots of different ways to search: by committee, rapporteur, procedure, document, title, legal basis, etc
Also has information on Council activities and documents
TR comments: Highly recommended to spend some time on this site, very powerful and useful tool
First 2 created in 1970s. More regulatory agencies created in the last 50 months than during the first 50 years. Huge diversity of roles, formats and responsibilities.
Two basic types : technical assistance through scientific and technical opinions, recommendations or inspection reports (assist the Commission in science based decisions or ensure that Community law is respected); agencies with the power to adopt individual decisions that are binding third parties.
Address emerging social, health and environmental issues linked to the internal market. The agencies are created by a specific legislation to accomplish a technical task . Each agency has its own legal personality and a management board consisting of MS, Commission and Parliament. Decentralised and therefore locally visible.
First Committees created in 1962 by the Council as a way of keeping some control over legislative powers delegated to the Commission. Committees used on an ad-hoc basis.
1987, the ‘ Comitology Decision’ following the Single European Act.
1999, updated Decision defines committees and operating procedures. European Parliament gains a minor role (can express ‘disapproval’), some transparency introduced.
advisory, management and regulatory committees - work according to different procedures and have varying levels of legislative control over the Commission. The type of committee assigned normally depends on the policy area being regulated.
Approximately 60 Committees , 50 % of them on agricultural issues. The Commission regularly consults experts before drawing up new legislation. These committees, are composed of relevant experts (private sector or MS) designed to ensure that the Commission hears the concerns of those who affected by laws. Following draft measures by the Commission, the committee delivers its opinion within a certain time limit "if necessary by taking a vote" (simple majority).
The Commission only has to take "utmost account of the opinion delivered" and inform the committee about how its views were dealt with.
This procedure is generally used when the policy matters is not very politically sensitive ( Commission wording !)
Private sector and Government representatives national experts Drafting phase (> 1350) Advisory committees Expert groups Scientific committees Social dialogue committees (47-50) Set up by the European Commission Adoption phase (+/-400) COREPER I and II Specialised Committees Working groups Set up by the Council, Commission and the Parliament 30-40 decisions a year - signed off by the Council Implementation phase (+/-400) * Regulatory * Management * Advisory Run by the Commission but participants from Member States 3-4,000 execution decisions annually
How many Committees? Nobody knows for certain ! The European Training Institute suggest there are more than 2,000 committees. In 2004, the Commission sent MEP Jens-Peter Bonde a list with more than 3,000 groups which it later corrected to approximately 1,500. Only 1,535 groups appear in the European Commission’s two online registers. In 2007, the Parliament threatened to block travel reimbursement for these groups unless there was full transparency. (Source: CorporateEurope.org)
Where the measures adopted by the Commission are not consistent with the Committee's opinion (delivered by qualified majority), the Commission must communicate them to the Council which, acting by a qualified majority, can change the Commission decision.
This procedure is used in particular for measures relating to the management of the Common Agricultural Policy, Fisheries and the main Community programmes e.g Public Health Programme;
The strictest procedure. Approximately 300 such committees, chaired by Commission and consisting of MS experts. The Commission can adopt implementing measures only if it obtains the approval of the Committee (voting by qualified majority)
If the Committee doesn’t agree or delivers an unfavourable opinion, the proposed measure is sent to the Council which either rejects (Commission cannot adopt the proposal) or confirms via a qualified majority. If neither course of action happens within 3 months, the Commission can go ahead.
This procedure is used for measures relating to protection of the health or safety of persons, animals and plants (eg approval of GM crops) and measures amending non-essential provisions of the basic legislative instruments.
The key role of Regulatory Committees The Commission estimates that 99.5 per cent of implementing measures are adopted following the agreement of the committees without reference to the Council. The latest report available from the Commission on the working of committees during 2003 (OJ C 65 17.3.2005) records only one example of a measure being referred to the Council and subsequently adopted by the Commission (authorisation of the placing on the market of sweet corn from genetically modified maize Bt11). This compares with 2,768 instruments adopted by the Commission in 2003.
Article 133 Committee decides EU trade policy . Technically a working group of the Council it features one member and one substitute from each MS. The closed meetings take place weekly. The Committee controls the Commission trade negotiations with third countries.
The civil servants take decisions on international trade issues and trade disputes. The Council resolves any political problems and ratifies the decisions taken by the Committee. Some proposals are debated solely within the committee and approved en bloc by COREPER without further debate. But the citizens and elected representatives do not get to see what has been negotiated on their behalf until after the deals have been concluded either in the WTO, the GATS, or with individual countries.
Having limited influence on the committee procedures, the Parliament wants to restrict the delegation of implementation measures to the Commission to purely routine measures. There are calls to ensure the role of the Parliament as co-legislator in procedures of legislative oversight
Extensive law-making powers to invisible and largely unaccountable committees made up of Commission officials and civil servants from Member States
"the case for greater transparency is overwhelming" and that the “precise details of the remit of each committee, membership, agendas, rules of procedure and opinions should be published .”, UK House of Lords
Expert committees composed of senior officials from the European Commission and national ministries form an integral part of the European Union's system of governance preparing decisions for the Commission
Besides preparing new legislation, committees are crucial to processes of information exchange, peer review and the comparative assessment of country specific policy responses. A committee is meant to provide additional expertise on a subject matter and thus complement the Commission services. It may also serve as an arena for floating policy ideas and anticipating future reactions to them, for example, in the Council
In general, expert committees are considered vital in building consensus.
Not linked to the legislative process and no formal role in decision-making. Invitation either by invitation or open application. Agenda, rules and working practices often agreed with participants as a way of building shared ownership. Commission facilitates by hosting meetings and sometimes covering travel costs.
EU Platform on Diet and Nutrition, EU Alcohol and Health Forum
European Commission Working Parties (e.g; alcohol, mortality, health indicators)
New ‘ r egulatory procedure with scrutiny ’ . The European Parliament now has a right of veto on ‘quasi-legislative’ measures dealt with by the Regulatory, Management and Advisory committees in the execution phase.
But the Commission can still create expert groups to advise it. There are no formal requirements on transparency for these groups.
Section V: Alcohol in EU policies and initiatives EC Communication on alcohol and health EU Road Safety programme Common Agricultural Policy and wine reform Food labelling legislation and alcohol DAPHNE programme to prevent violence against women and children
Full list of ingredients or just allergy producing substances?
Health warnings or moderate consumption messages?
DAPHNE, 50 million €, 2004-2008 Action to prevent violence against children, young people and women : the DAPHNE programme Designed to prevent and combat all forms of violence against children, young people and women. Three target groups have been clearly identified. These are children (up to the age of 18), young people (12-25 years old) and women. All types of violence and all aspects of this phenomenon are covered, whether occurring in public or in private. It includes violence in the family, in schools and other educational institutions or in the workplace, commercial sexual exploitation, genital mutilation and human trafficking.
Mopping up the wine lake The EU is the world's biggest producer, consumer, exporter and importer of wine. The Common Market Organisation (CMO) for wine was last reformed in 1999. € 1.3 billion a year of EU subsidies including € 14 million on marketing and promotion of wines and € 500 million on “crisis distillation” turning surplus wine into industrial alcohol and biofuels . The EU has 45 % of the world’s vineyard land. France, Italy and Spain are not only the EU's but the world's top producers by volume. Then Germany, Portugal, Hungary, Greece, Austria, Slovenia, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Cyprus. There has been consistent overproduction, mostly poor quality table wine. The surplus wine lake is now estimated at 1.5bn litres, or enough for every European Union citizen to take roughly four free bottles each. The Commission proposes 1/8 vineyards to be dug up over 5 years.
Drink-driving moving up EU the agenda EU Road Safety Action Plan plans to cut accidents by 50 % by 2010 17,000 deaths on the road 10,000 of which are not the drivers. 1 in 3 of such fatalities. What the WHO says works: - Tightening the Blood Alcohol Concentration levels - Random breath testing - Withdrawal of licenses and stronger penalties - Use of IT tools and new technology to update vehicle design
Needs a unanimous decision by all Member States to change minimum excise duties
Beer producing countries are determined not to lose out in comparison to wine producing countries
Enlargement has increased the number of EU Member States that produce alcohol and have low tax rates.
Commission is prioritising tobacco taxation issues over alcohol taxes because of the low likelihood of agreement
Commission services (DG TAXUD) are unconvinced about tax as a mechanism to influence consumption patterns on alcohol.
BUT, takes action against 5 MS for minimum retail price for cigarettes, recommending instead tax as a mechanism to cut tobacco use !
Retailing - the non Nordic way ! Point of sale - allocation of prime shelf space Sales promotions - reductions for multiple purchases In-store tastings
The impact of the single market Alcohol allowances are excessive compared to other excise products. (800 cigarettes, 10 litres of diesel or 230 litres of alcohol).
Knock, knock ……… Sales of alcohol over the internet have raised concerns in the US and Europe. Age-checks to prevent underage sales. The ECJ ruled that tax rates of the home country apply rather than those of the supply country. (JOUSTRA). The ECJ ruled that the private import ban in Sweden was not an intrinsic part of the operating of the retail monopoly and therefore contravened EU law (ROSENGREN)
What about the EU alcohol strategy ? The strategy was supposed to cover the following issues: Protection of young people – no sales to underage. Better enforcement of laws. No marketing targeting them and supporting effective interventions Drink-driving – better enforcement, random breath testing, license suspensions, awareness raising, reducing the BAC for young/novice drivers, treatment for repeated DUI Protection of 3rd parties – awareness raising on impact during pregnancy, support for kids in families affected by drinking problems Preventing ARH in adults – brief treatment and interventions, responsible beverage service, active enforcement of existing legislation Cross-cultural evidence – common knowledge basis, quality data and research at MS level, exchange of best practice Awareness raising on alcohol impact – eg with consumer policy and better information especially labelling, education but not in isolation
EC Communication on alcohol and health Finally, an EU alcohol strategy…. but it is very limited in scope and rests largely on supporting Member State actions. Alcohol is firmly on the EU policy agenda…but the most powerful EU mechanism, legislation, is off the agenda. The Forum will NOT be the place for policy discussions but both NGOs and industry seek such policy dialogue. Where will this happen? The ‘price of entry’ for industry to have access to SANCO via the Alcohol and Health Forum is that they must commit to concrete actions and increasing funds. But they already enjoyed frequent and good relations at senior SANCO level and NGOs face the same ‘price of entry’. There will be no balance in numbers of NGO/industry members
Alcohol at EU level before the Strategy SANCO Working Party on health indicators (project leaders, academics) SANCO Network of Competent Authorities (MS) European Health Policy Forum (stakeholders inc healthcare economic operators but not alcohol industry) This was the only formalised input for the alcohol industry towards DG SANCO Working Group on Alcohol and Health - MS and WHO. Occasionally linked meetings with interest groups. Alcohol specific Indirectly addressed alcohol in policy or data collection
Alcohol at EU level after the Strategy Standing Committee on data collection (MS, academics, links to SANCO WP on lifestyles) Standing Committee on National Policy (MS) Industry has a role in all of the elements of the strategy implementation except the Standing Committees but some cross-linking is foreseen Open Forum - all interested parties incl industry MS are observers of the Forum. Forum members may be invited to SC meetings Forum Plenary - stakeholders incl industry and observers (MS, WHO) Standing Group on Science - experts some nominated by industry