Bicameral EU legislature:
Council of European Union (not the administrative European Council)
The European Parliament
Minimium Winning Coaliition
comprised of the least number of parties needed to obtain a winning majority. Why? There are fewer parties that will share power
Minimum Connected Winning Coalition
similar to the above, this happens when two parties close to each other on the ideological spectrum (if A-B-C...a/b and b/c are connected).
institution/actor who has right to make new proposal and set it on spectrum. Why is he important? On A-B-C-D-E if E is agenda setter policy ends up at D. Commission is Agenda Setter in EU.
Specialization in the Legislative Process
Only know one space dimension. If you have a strong committee power then they often only have to worry about one dimension. If the law is decided on the floor instead of in committee then they will want to trade a concession perhaps between industry and constituency.
Different Types of Majority
Simple, Absolute, Qualified, and Unanimous (review). Qualified is when there is more than absolutely majority, usually specific number like 2/3.
CONSULTATION Legislative Procedure
Formed with Treaty of Rome. ECJ ruling (1980)
o This is when the EEC is founded, consultation style established-this means the commission initiates legislation and it goes to Council, council uses QMV to pass legislation. Council can use unanimity to amend and then pass the legislation. Then they must consult with EP—send bill to EP and they can send back decision. Council does not have to take into account the opinion of the EP. What does the EP get out of this? The power to DELAY passing legislation. Remember the first acting EP was not formed until 1979, many years after Treaty of Rome
COOPERATION Legislative Procedure
Formed with SEA. Commission makes proposal, proposal goes to EP, EP can choose to amend bill, bill goes to European Council. If the EP amends bill, the Council can overrule those amendments with Unanimity. IF the EP does not amend the bill then the Council can pass law with QMV. This raises stakes for Council. If you want to delay what EP wants, you must have unanimity in the Council.
ASSENT Legislative Procedure
Formed with SEA. Before council can vote on a bill, the EP must give approval to the bill. This is an exception only rarely used such as acceptance of new member to EU.
CO-DECISION Legislative Procedure
Maastricht Treaty introduced this, Amsterdam and Lisbon expanded this aka Ordinary Legislative Procedure: most are passed with Co-Decision since Lisbon. What is the Co-Decision Process?
o C=Council, K=Commission, EP=European Parliament
• K sends to EP who votes with simple majority...now bill goes back Council who use QMV. If Council approve bill we have a law based on EP version. If Council rejects and changes bill it goes back to EP and they can use absolute majority can reject Council version, but if they don't have absolute majority it becomes law. Now, if they want to reject the bill the EP must form committee comprised of equal number of members from EP and Council to create bill both groups will pass.
No Law if at least one chamber rejects version put forward by committee.
We have a law if both houses approve it
Council of Ministers aka Consilium
Council of Ministers, or Consilium
• Membership: the ministers from the governments of the EU member states. However depending on topic at hand there will be different ministers.
• Legally, there is one Council; in practice, there are various Council formations expected to look after the interest of the member states (as opposed to EP that represents interests of EU as a whole)...this is on the legislative side
• These members depend on national laws from individual states for election
The Council of Minsters PRESIDENCY
• Six month rotating presidency
• Draw up provisional agenda for each meeting
• Chair the meetings of the Council and of COREPER
• Represents the Council
The President will represent his country on all issues and is not an additional position but more like a permanent placement for this period of time.
COREPER aka Committee of Permanent Representatives
• Senior civil servants from the member states governments (i.e. "ambassadors")
• Prepares the agenda for the Council meetings
3 ROLES of the EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT
• Passing European laws jointly with the Council, based on one of the following procedures:
o Co-decision (the norm)
o Consultation and assent (the exception)
• Parliament exercises democratic supervision over the other EU institutions
• The Power of the purse, important role in determining where money in budget will go
European Parliament PRESIDENT
elected by absolute majority
• Direct elections since 1979, every five years...the only institution with link to citizens of EU; not totally true; candidates tend to run on national issues
• Lack of uniform electoral rule
• Eligibility to vote and stand for elections-changes by country
EU Law PRIMARY LEGISLATION
refers to treaties of EU; only a treaty can change the content of this and all other law must comply with this content
EU Law SECONDARY LEGISLATION
decisions made by European Institutions like Council or Commission (directives, recommendations, interpretations, opinions, see book). Akin to Dept. Of Homeland Security in US.
EU Law CASE LAW
not based on any legislation...formed by general principle of law. Previous court decision can be used as guideline of new court decision. In US the courts should match previous rulings? President of US comparison??? Effects of law are never retroactive in case law. Economic, human, and political rights are issues here in case law. Does not replace constitutions or laws of countries—thus more general.
EU COURT OF JUSTICE
(created 1952; formerly the Court of Justice)-for a long time there was just this one court. This is the highest court. Member states vs. each other or EU law. THIS COURT Oversees correct implementation of EU law (commission does SOME of this too).
EU General Court
(created in 1988; formerly the Court of First Instance). The court of Justice could no longer handle the amount of cases and needed second court. Handles all claims by individuals/business enterprises/citizens of EU against EU law or institutions.
EU Civil Service Tribunal
(created in 2004)-more specific area where they legislate; complaints by EU staff against EU institution.
Composition of the EU Court of Justice
composed of 27 Judges and 8 Advocates General
• Selection process-each member state gets 1 representative and it is internal affair; recommendations in EU treaties regarding general qualifications.
• Length of mandate-6 years; renewable; every 2 years a third of the judges positions are either replaced or renewed. Probably only renewed once.
• Presidency of the Court of Justice-3 year term, renewable. Elected by 27 judges, not member states, internal business.
• LOCATED IN LUXEMBOURG (Commission in Brussels; also in Strasbourg)
• Advocates General are not taking part of regular process; they are advisory body to the judges; judges do not have to listen Advocates General but advice can help. The 8 Advocates General usually have a permanent one and the smaller states rotate the extras.
How does the Court of Justice convene?
The Court may sit as a full court (all 27 members) done RARELY, or
in a Grand Chamber of 13 Judges, or
in Chambers of five or three judges.
What cases does the Court of Justice hear?
• Preliminary ruling procedure. Member states have to implement EU law at national level. The national courts in each EU country are responsible for ensuring EU law is properly applied in that country. But they might potentially implement/interpret law different. To address this problem is this preliminary ruling procedure. If national court decision hinges on EU treaty/law the court can suspend trial and ask ECJ to make preliminary ruling as to how to interpret that treaty article discussed in national trial. Decision is not final ruling; it must be approved by national court.
• Proceedings for failure to fulfill an obligation; the Commission can start these proceedings if it has reason to believe that a member state is failing to fulfill its obligations under EU law. These proceedings may also be started by another EU country. Infringement policy applies here.
• Actions for annulment-if any of the member states, the Council, the Commission or the Parliament believes that a particular EU law is illegal they may ask Court to annul it.
o Private individual's right to ask for annulment—given that the particular law will affect them directly the individual can ask for annulment
• Actions for failure to act-this is against Parliament for example, such as under Consultation procedure, or any other organization that is failing to respond in a timely fashion
• Actions for damages-if an EU citizen/enterprise feel that a law has hurt their interests they can ask EU court to provide for damages. General Court.
How does the Court of Justice enforce decisions?
monetary sanctions can be imposed on national governments-hailing back to Maastrict Treaty but fine tuned under Lisbon Treaty
Direct Effect Principle
-Van Gend en Loos (1963)
-the EU treaties directly affect EU citizens without states approving first.
-EU treaty law has direct impact on citizens and do convey direct rights to individuals, NOT just member states. Nowadays new member states automatically rule that any EU Law IS national law. Ex: Romanian constitution