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MEPs and their impacts on financial instruments

Between the 22nd and the 25th May 2014, Europeans will be called to the polls to elect a new European Parliament, composed by 751 members.

It is the eighth election by direct universal suffrage in a single ballot since 1979. For the first time, the results of these elections will influence the choice of the President of the European Commission. This novelty, introduced by the Lisbon Treaty in 2009, is not a compulsory requirement, but can be a valid antidote against the democratic deficit which affects the European institutions.

But what is the role of the European Parliament? What powers do its members have regarding to a multiannual programming?

Firstly, this institution is the public body representing the democratic expression and political control over the Union. It represents the 500 million citizens of the Member States. At the beginning, it had just advisory competences; today it has wider powers concerning three main areas:

– Legislative powers: the European Parliament shares the legislative power with the Council (i.e. ordinary legislative procedure or co-decision procedure). In addition, it contributes to the development of various Union legislative acts, depending on the appropriate legal basis for each of these acts;

– Budgetary powers: the European Parliament has a real budgetary power. It establishes, with the Council, the annual budget of the European Union. The budget shall enter into force only after the signature of the President of Parliament;

– Control powers on European institutions: the European Parliament has several democratic control systems regarding the other institutions. For instance: the Commission cannot be appointed without the approval of the Parliament and the European Commission is politically accountable to the Parliament.

Obviously, the Parliament also has a very important and incisive role in establishing the structures, objectives, priorities and budgets of the European financing programmes valid in the context of a multiannual financial framework (MFF). The MFF, established for a period of seven years, sets for every year the maximum budget amount not to exceed.
Financial instruments initially developed and proposed by the European Commission, need to be negotiated and amended by the European Parliament and the Council.

The negotiations between the EU institutions on the MFF can be very long. Concerning the MFF for the programming period 2014-2020, negotiations were heavy and they ended on December 2 with a compromise on a budget lower than the previous one (about 35 billion euro). The delay of the adoption of a new financial framework may include practical and legal difficulties regarding the disbursement of funds to the various beneficiaries. Hence, the importance of the members of the EU Parliament and their powers concerning the EU funds.

What other impacts do the members of Parliament have on EU funds and programmes?

In addition, the Parliament has the power to approve the regulations establishing the various European programmes and financial instruments. These will, then, be adopted after getting an approval from the Council. For example, concerning the LIFE Programme 2014-2020, the Parliament gave its favorable opinion in November 2013 and the Council in early December. The regulation was finally adopted on the 11th December 2013.

What is interesting especially for project managers is that the Parliament is also asked to approve the regulations establishing the different annual or multiannual work programmes of the financial instruments, proposed by the Commission. It is worth remembering that the annual work programme contains the priorities and the type of actions to be financed during the year. It also indicates the dates and number of calls for proposals and procurements that will be proposed.


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