At 29 March the European Parliament will vote on amending its Rules of Procedure (2011/2266(REG))
1. Question Time with
the Council andthe Commission shall be held at each part-session at times decided by Parliament on a proposal from the Conference of Presidents.
2. No Member may put more than one question
to the Council andone question to the Commission at any given part-session.
In other words the MEPs are asked to lapse their right to pose question during “Question Time” to the Council. This is particularly worrying where the Commission refers to the Council, for instance the ACTA Criminal Chapter, where the Commission had no competence.
The opportunity for MEPs to ask questions to the Council otherwise is further restrained:
Amendment 5 Annex II (new)
– concern in particular, in the case of specific questions to the Council, the exercise of its functions in defining, coordinating and implementing EU policies, or concern its powers relating to appointment procedures or the operation of the institutions, agencies and bodies of the European Union or a revision of the Treaties,
Amendment 6 Annex II
2. A question shall be inadmissible if the agenda already provides for the subject to be discussed with the participation of the institution concerned, or if it relates to the exercise of the Council’s legislative and budgetary functions referred to in Article 16(1), first sentence, of the Treaty on European Union.
The explanatory memorandum says:
“Abolishing Council Question Time in its present form would reflect the shift in the institutional balance referred to by the Conference of Presidents. For the reasons set out above, however, it would be sensible to retain the option of putting questions to the Council – during a specific question hour – on matters relating to responsibilities other than those linked to the exercise of its legislative and budgetary functions.
Behind all this is of course the need of Parliament to free limited plenary time capacity. It would be wise for Parliament to limit the amount of dossiers it accepts from the Commission, instead. For smaller Parliament groups and unattached members the Question Time is a way to make impact. At times in crazy ways.
Here you could find what questions are posed during question time (rule 116). Notably, the procedure for written questions (priority/non-priority) under rule 117 would stay. I hope MEPs would make use of this procedure and, other bodies like COSAR/CoR/EESC etc. been given equal powers to grill the Council with their own questions