A high-level anniversary conference marking 20 years since Parliament won the power to co-decide legislation with national governments, following the entry into force of the Maastricht i Treaty on 1 November 1993, was held in Parliament on Tuesday. Debates focused on past and present trends as well as future expectations, including Parliament’s growing powers as legislator and its implications.
Since co-decision was introduced, "Council has had to learn to deal with the European Parliament as an equal player. This was not always straightforward, particularly in the early years. And recent difficulties in new areas of co-decision, such as agriculture, prove that the challenge of building mutual trust is never over", said EP Vice-President Gianni Pittella (S&D, IT) in his opening remarks.
"Our common aim must be exercising to the full the powers which have been conferred on us - even if the result is a political dispute", he added.
Closing the four-hour debate with current and former MEPs, Commission and Council representatives, inter-institutional practitioners and academics, EP Vice-President Alejo Vidal-Quadras (EPP, ES) also stressed that since co-decision was introduced 20 years ago, "the need for close cooperation and mutual trust between EP and Council negotiators" has remained a key factor.
"Co-decision is a story about people and the importance of getting the right people around the table. The people taking part in negotiations make the difference as to whether proceedings are pleasant and this can help in reaching an agreement", he added.
The co-decision procedure, now formally called the "ordinary legislative procedure" gives the same weight to the Parliament and the Council in a wide range of areas (for example, economic governance, immigration, energy, transport, the environment and consumer protection). The vast majority of EU laws are adopted jointly by the two institutions.
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