The European Parliament’s Environment Committee Scrutiny of Delegated Legislation in 2016 – A review

This is a follow update of my review of the work of the Environment Committee’s scrutinising of delegated legislation in 2015. You can find that piece here.

 

Method

I have reviewed the agenda of each meeting of the Environment Committee in 2016. For each challenge to a delegated legislative proposal,  I have tracked the success at the Committee and Plenary (via Vote Watch) stage.

I will update this blog when the Commission and European Parliament publish their annual activity reports.

Insights

Summary of Challenges by the Environment Committee in 2016

In 2016, the Environment Committee were notified of the following measures (these numbers need to be validated – there is ):

  • 1521 Implementing Acts
  • 27 Delegated Acts
  • 366 RPS – Regulatory Procedures with Scrutiny measures

There is significant difference in the numbers reported on the Commission’s website. It reports(see here) 138 delegated acts in 2016 overall, 1494 implementing acts with committee control (comitology) and 123 RPS measures.

The European Parliament Environment Committee met 20 times in 2016. At 9 meetings there were 15 objections:

  • 4 objections against pesticides
  • 2 for insecticides
  • 7 GMOs
  • 4 regarding food products.

Even though the Environment Committee is active in scrutinizing the Commission’s delegated legislative output, the percentage of proposals they call in to challenge is very low. 15 objections out of 1914 proposed measures is a challenge rate of 0.7%. The idea that Environment Committee is “activist” on their scrutiny of comitology proposals is not borne out by the data.

1  objection amounted to a veto (see baby food – challenge 15).

The EP only has an effective veto on RPS measures and Delegated Acts. As most proposed measures are Implementing Acts, with the Parliament being unable to block a proposal, the Parliament have evolved their tactics. The glyphosate case showed the EP acting early  to inform the Member State Committee before hand. This challenge led to, or was part of the reasons,  that led to European Commission changing their original 15 years renewal to an 18 months technical extension with other conditions on use attached.  The challenges against GMOs (implementing acts) led to no  changes to the measures.

For delegated legislation,in all likelihood, whatever the Commission put out the door, will be adopted. Challenges are noticeable because they are so rare, successful challenges rarer.

In 2016, the Environment Committee focussed on a few areas: GMO, pesticides, and baby food.  These are all sensitive areas of public policy so it is not a surprise that they receive scrutiny. In 2015, challenges also concerned other hazardous substances and broader food issues.

The EPP have little success in blocking proposals they have not supported in the Environment Committee. Rather, the decisive step appears to be when the S&D splits at the margins.

Resolutions launched by the ENF do not pass the Committee stage.

Single MEP initiatives do not have a good track record of success.

Many resolutions that succeed are launched as cross party efforts at the Committee stage and that coalition is kept going in the plenary.

Meetings in 2016

 

Challenge 1: Meeting  7 November 2016, 15.00 – 16.15. Item 7:  Objection pursuant to Rule 106 : Renewing the approval of the active substance bentazone

Rapporteur: Pavel Poc (Czech/S&D)

Challenge: Implementing Act

Committee resolution here.

Decision in Committee: For 30,  Against  21, Abstention 1.

Plenary Vote Watch summary

Date of vote: 23.11.2016

Resolution adopted here

Vote in Plenary:  For 361, Against 289, Abstentions 28

Threshold:  326

Coalition:  GUE, Greens, S&D, ALDE, EFFD, ENF

Vote Watch Visual Summary


 

 

Voting by Group Summary

 

 

 Challenge 2:  Monday 3 October 2016 – Monday 3 October 2016;  Item 6: Objection pursuant to Rule 106: Placing on the market for cultivation of genetically modified maize Bt11 (SYN-BTØ11-1) seeds

Co-Rapporteurs: Bart Staes (Belgium/ Greens/EFA), Guillaume Balas (France/S&D (, Lynn Boylan (Ireland/GUE/NGL), Eleonora Evi (Italy/EFDD) Sirpa Pietikäinen (Finland/EPP).

Committee resolution here

Decision in Committee Adopted: In favour: 37; Against: 18; abstention(s): 1.

Plenary Vote Watch Summary

Date of Vote: 6.10.2017

Resolution adopted here

Vote in Plenary: For 360, Against 190, Abstentions 35

Threshold: 289

Coalition:  GUE, Greens, S&D, ALDE, EFFD, ENF

Vote Watch Visual Summary

Vote by Group Summary

 

 

Challenge 3:  Monday 3 October 2016 – Monday 3 October 2016: Item 7. Objection pursuant to Rule 106: Placing on the market for cultivation of genetically modified maize 1507 (DAS-Ø15Ø7-1) seeds

Co-Rapporteurs: Bart Sates (Belgium/ Greens/EFA), Guillaume Balas (France/S&D (, Lynn Boylan (Ireland/GUE/NGL), Eleonora Evi (Italy/EFDD) Sirpa Pietikäinen (Finland/EPP).

Committee resolution here

Decision in Committee. Adopted: In favour: 39; Against: 17; Abstention(s): 0.

Plenary Vote Watch summary

Date: 6.10.2016

Resolution adopted here

Vote in Plenary: For 375; Against 193;Abstentions 36

Coalition:  GUE, Greens, S&D, ECR, EFFD, ENF

Vote watch visual

 

Vote by Group Summary

 

 

Challenge 4:  Monday 3 October 2016 – Monday 3 October 2016Objection pursuant to Rule 106: Renewing the authorization for the placing on the market for cultivation of genetically modified maize MON 810 (MON- ØØ81Ø-6) seeds

Co-Rapporteurs: Bart Staes (Belgium/ Greens/EFA), Guillaume Balas (France/S&D), Lynn Boylan (Ireland/GUE/NGL), Eleonora Evi (Italy/EFDD) Sirpa Pietikäinen (Finland/EPP).

Committee  resolution here
Decision in Committee. Adopted: For: 37; Against: 19; abstention(s): 0.

Plenary Vote Watch summary here

Date of vote: 06.10.2016

Resolution adopted here.

Vote in Plenary: For 372; Against 181; Abstentions: 46

Threshold:277

Coalition: GUE, Greens, S&D, ECR, EFFD, ENF

Vote Watch Summary

 

Vote by Group Summary

 

Challenge 5:  Monday 3 October 2016 – Monday 3 October 2016Objection pursuant to Rule 106: Placing on the market of products containing, consisting of, or produced from genetically modified cotton 281-24-236 × 3006- 210-23 × MON 88913 (DAS-24236-5×DAS-21Ø23-5×MON-88913-8)

Co-Rapporteurs: Bart Sates, Guillaume Balas, Lynn Boylan, Eleonora Evi Sirpa Pietikäinen.

Committee resolution here

Decision in Committee: For: 39; Against: 17;

Plenary Vote Watch summary here

Date of vote: 6.10.2016

Resolution adopted here

Vote: For 384, Against 169, Abstentions 39.

Threshold: 277

Coalition: GUE, Greens, S&D, ALDE, EFFD, ENF

Vote Watch Summary

Vote by Group Summary

 

Challenge 6:  Monday 3 October 2016 – Monday 3 October 2016. Item 10 Objection pursuant to Rule 106: Renewing the authorisation for the placing on the market of genetically modified maize MON 810 (MON-ØØ81Ø-6) products

Co-Rapporteurs: Bart Staes, Guillaume Balas, Lynn Boylan, Eleonora Evi Sirpa Pietikäinen.

Committee resolution here

Decision in Committee. For: 30,  Against: 19; abstention(s): 0.

Plenary Vote Watch summary here

Date of vote: 6.10.2016

Resolution adopted here

Vote: For 371, Against 189, Abstentions 40.

Threshold: 281

Coalition: GUE, Greens, S&D,  EFFD, ENF

Vote Watch Summary

 

 

 

Vote by Group Summary

 

 

Challenge 6: DRAFT AGENDA – Monday 11 July 2016 – Tuesday 12 July 2016 Item 10Objection pursuant to Rule 106: extension of the approval period of glyphosate

Rapporteur: Merja Kyllönen (GUE/NGL

Adoption of motion for Resolution

Decision in Committee: Rejected. For: 9; Against: 28; abstention(s): 22.

 

Challenge 7. DRAFT AGENDA – Tuesday 21 June 2016 – Tuesday 21 June 2016. Item 8: Objection pursuant to Rule 106: Maximum residue levels for thiacloprid in or on certain products

Co-rapportuer: Sylvie Goddyn (ENF)

Decision in Committee: rejected: For: 7, Against: 41, Abstentions: 1

 

Challenge 8. DRAFT AGENDA – Wednesday 15 June 2016 – Thursday 16 June 2016. Item 6: Objection pursuant to Rule 106: Health claims on caffeine (Rule 106(2))

 

Rapporteur: Christel Schaldemose (S&D)

Committee Resolution here

Decision in Committee.  Adopted. For: 57; Against: 0; Abstention(s):0

Plenary Vote Watch summary

Date: 07.07.2016

Resolution voted on  here

Defeated: For 257, Against 339, Abstenstions 50

Threshold 259

Coalition:  EPP, ECR,ENF

Vote watch summary

 

Voting by Group Summary

 

 

 

Challenge 9. DRAFT AGENDA – Monday 23 May 2016 – Tuesday 24 May 2016. Item 6: Objection pursuant to Rule 106: placing on the market of a genetically modified carnation (Dianthus caryophyllus L., line SHD-27531-4)

Co-Rapporteurs: Bart Staes, Lynn Boylan, Guillaume Balas. Adoption of motion for a resolution

Committee Resolution here

Decision: Adopted: Yes: 39; Against: 23; Abstention(s): 1.

Plenary Vote Watch summary

Date: 08.06.2016

Resolution adopted here.

For 430, Against 189, Abstentions 33

Threshold 310

Coalition:  GUE, Greens, S&D, EFFD, ENF

Vote watch Summary

 

Voting by Group Summary

 

 

Challenge 10. DRAFT AGENDA – Monday 23 May 2016 – Tuesday 24 May 2016. Item 14: Objection pursuant to Rule 106: authorisation of GMO maize Bt11 x MIR162 x MIR604 x GA21

Co-Rapporteurs: Bart Staes, Lynn Boylan, Guillaume Balas.

Committee Resolution here.

Decision: Adopted:For: 39; Against: 24; Abstention(s): 0.

Plenary Vote Watch Summary

Date of vote: 8.06.2016

Vote in Plenary:For: 426; Against: 202; Abstensions: 33

Threshold: 315

Coalition: GUE, Greens, S&D, EFFD, ENF

Vote Watch Summary

Group Summary

 

Challenge 11. DRAFT AGENDA – Monday 21 March 2016 – Tuesday 22 March 2016. Item 5: Objection pursuant to Rule 106: renewal of the approval of the active substance glyphosate

Co-Rapporteurs: Pavel Poc, Kateřina Konečná, Bas Eickhout, Piernicola Pedicini, Mark Demesmaeker, Sirpa Pietikäinen, Frédérique Ries

Committee Resolution here.

Decision in Committee. Adopted. For: 38; Against: 6; Abstention(s): 18

Plenary Vote Watch Summary

Date of vote: 13.04.2016

Resolution adopted here.

Vote in Plenary: For 396; Against 299 ;Abstenstions 6

Threshold: 348

Coalition:GUE, Greens, S&D, ALDE, ENF

Vote Watch Summary

 

Group Summary

 

Challenge 12. DRAFT AGENDA – Monday 21 March 2016 – Tuesday 22 March 2016. Item 12: Objection pursuant to Rule 106: renewal of the approval of the active substance glyphosate

Rapporteur: Mireille D’Ornano (ENF)

Committee Decision: Resolution Fell (see above challenge 11).

 

Challenge 13. Agenda Thursday 14 January 2016. Item 5: Objection pursuant to Rule 105: infant and follow-on formula

Rapporteur: Keith Taylor (Green/UK)

Committee resolution here

Decision in Committee: For 16; Against: 47; Abstention(s): 0

 

Challenge 14. Agenda Thursday 14 January 2016. Item 6: Objection pursuant to Rule 105: food for special medical purposes

Committee resolution here

Decision in Committee: 17; against: 46; abstention(s): 0

 

Challenge 15. Agenda Thursday 14 January 2016. Item 7.  Objection pursuant to Rule 105: processed cereal-based food and baby food

Rapporteur: Keith Taylor (Green/UK)

Committee resolution here

Decision in Committee: For: 35; Against: 28; Abstention(s): 0

Plenary Vote Watch Summary

Date of Vote: 20.01.2016

Resolution adopted here

Vote in Plenary: For: 393; Against 305; Abstenstions:  12

Threshold: 376

Vote Watch Summary

Group Summary

Which MEP counts?

Why do you want to meet with Roger Helmer MEP?

I could never understand why clients wanted to meet Roger Helmer MEP when he sat as a Conservative MEP.He seemed to hit the sweet spot for many industrialists. He saw the world through their eyes, he reflected their prejudices, he even believes climate change is a myth. They insisted meeting him. Many thought that what he said would even happen.

I understand the benefit of having one’s own biases confirmed. It gives you a warm feeling, and gives you the impression that there are others to see the world as you do. But, it is usually a recipe for self-deception and political failure.

 

Who to meet 

I take a different approach. I think it’s more important to meet the politicians, and their advisors, who will make or break a key decision.

As there are 751 MEPs and as many, if not more, key advisers and relevant  national politicians influencing your issue, the numbers see, foreboding.

You can instead chuck down the numbers involved. You really need to focus on:

  • Relevant Committee co-ordinations
  • Rapporteur and shadow rapporteurs
  • Group co-ordinators for your issue
  • National Party leader and whip
  •  National group co-ordinator (if not national party leader)
  • Minister and shadow minister back home in 28 capitals

If relevant:

  • National party committee co-ordinator
  • Key MEPs co-ordinating group voting lists. This is important for the EPP.
  • Bureau of party

Don’t forget – All politics is local

Governments and national parties send voting lists to their MEPS. National political loyalties are often stronger than loyalty to the european political group.

I have found this avenue particularly fruitful. Struan Stevenson MEP was about to instruct his fellow conservative MEPs to vote on a sensitive fisheries matter one way, until the then shadow fisheries minister, Richard Benyon MP, was altered to this move against party and national policy. A late night exchange of calls and emails corrected Struan Stevenson’s errant deviation from the national party position and brought the conservative group vote into line.

Beyond the committee

Too often people focus on the rapporteur and shadows. This goes on without realising that all too often rapporteurs are ignored and outvoted by their colleagues on the same committee, and sometimes a committee’s recommendation is ignored by the full Parliament.

But, the more technical an issue the more likely fellow MEPS will defer to their designated colleagues. They will step out of line if persuaded, but it happens a lot less you may think.

Downside

There is a downside to this approach. You will need to expand your political base from your friends and will need to speak to people in 28 countries. If you do it though you will stand a far better chance of getting the political result you want. You won’t of course have your prejudices confirmed by fellow travellers.