Road to EU 2024

European Parliament votes to revamp EU Institutions and bolster influence in Commission President selection

October 2023
By Maximilian Powell

MEPs are increasing efforts to play a stronger role in shaping the future of EU Institutions. On Wednesday, 25October, the Committee on Constitutional Affairs (AFCO) approved two separate draft reports aimed at reforming the power dynamics within EU institutions.

One report outlines the European Parliament’s desire to be actively involved in negotiations with national leaders to select the European Commission President following EU elections. This proposal calls for an agreement between the Parliament and the European Council, ensuring that lead candidates, in collaboration with the presidents of the European political parties and their respective parliamentary groups, engage in negotiations immediately after the European elections to put forward a common candidate for Commission President.

At the heart of the report was MEPs complaint that the lead candidate system to elect the European Commission President was not applied in 2019 and insist that a clear and credible link between voters’ choice and this position is needed. They highlight that, based on the Treaties, this election depends on securing a majority in Parliament and called on the European Council to stop the practice of striking deals behind closed doors.

The other report calls for the long-awaited major reform of the EU Treaties. It proposes the creation of a convention to revise the Treaties, with the goal of making EU institutions, especially the European Commission, more explicitly political.

First of all, it suggests renaming the European Commission as the ‘European Executive,’ with its President nominated by Parliament and approved by the European Council (a reversal of the current system), and members chosen based on their political preferences.

The report suggests implementing a more balanced two-chamber system to enhance Parliament’s influence and modify voting procedures within the Council. It proposes a significant expansion of decisions made through qualified majority voting (QMV) and the ordinary legislative procedure (OLP). Additionally, Parliament would acquire a comprehensive right to propose legislation and share legislative authority concerning the European Union’s long-term budget.

The draft report asks for the introduction of a mechanism for EU-wide referendums on matters relevant to the Union’s actions and policies (including the approval of the Treaty reform proposals at hand) and enhance the existing participatory mechanisms. 

The report also wishes to establish an exclusive Union competence for the environment and biodiversity and shared competences on public health matters, civil protection, industry, and education. MEPs propose the advancement of Union shared competences in the areas of energy, foreign affairs, external security and defence, external border policy in the area of freedom, security and justice, and cross-border-infrastructure.

Both reports are provisionally scheduled to be on the agenda at the 20-23 November plenary session in Strasbourg. It’s worth noting that these resolutions, while non-binding, would exert additional pressure on Member States, historically posing obstacles to EU Treaty reforms. However, given the complex challenges emerging from the current geopolitical landscape, the time might be right to encourage and improve the EU’s configuration.