Heavy workload, but here's how the European Parliament could take things a little easier

8 July 2018

Heavy workload, but here's how the European Parliament could take things a little easier

With two weeks remaining before the European Parliament's summer recess, most of my fellow MEPs are becoming more than fed up with the ever-growing pressure of work. On 27th June mainstream media reported that according to the Austrian EU presidency, which began on 1st July, 200 legislative proposals had been presented. Yet the European Commission and the European Parliament have themselves to blame, at least in part, for this. Below, a few ideas for slowing down a little.

My first tip is for the European Commission, the body responsible for writing all proposed EU laws. Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker and his Dutch vice-president Frans Timmermans originally stated proudly that 'their' Commission would not only scrap existing unnecessary EU measures, but would also come forward with as few new proposals as possible. Things went well for the first couple of years, to the extent that many MEPs found that they were being given too little to do. More recently, however, the Commission has more than made up for this. In theory, the Commission may have been overwhelmed by new developments which demanded new measures to be taken at the last minute, but that certainly doesn't apply to the dozens of proposals relating to the internal market. Instead of making promises which they couldn't fulfil, Juncker and Timmermans would have been better spreading the proposals out through their five-year term of office. Instead, we are now the victims of a public relations exercise which has misled everyone, followed by a flood of proposals which must now be hurried through.

However, I also have a number of tips for the Parliament itself. Let's be done with the avalanche of non-binding resolutions. Non-legislative reports have now been suspended until the European Parliament elections next May, but why not more look more carefully at the motions submitted on the eve of the plenary on, for example, foreign policy, over which the Parliament has very little say.

Finally, perhaps the most important tip for the Parliament. There are so many parliamentary committees with overlapping responsibilities that with every new proposal a fight breaks out over which committee should take the lead. For the outside world, this is of absolutely no importance, but when it comes to MEPs, as well as officials from the Parliament Secretariat, it often seems that their lives depend on it. Once again, this should stop. If for each proposal we made a single parliamentary committee responsible, at the same time giving other MEPs the chance to read the proposal and put forward amendments together with their colleagues from the competent committee, things would become, in an instant, a bit more manageable. And equally, we could get by with rather fewer officials.

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