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Comitology and delegated acts after Lisbon: How the European Parliament lost the implementation game

Keywords: European Parliament , comitology , co-decision procedure , Lisbon Treaty , implementation , European Commission , Council of Ministers , treaty reform , political science

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Abstract:

The European Parliament is frequently seen as the ‘big winner’ of the Lisbon Treaty, given the fact that several changes have significantly extended its powers, such as the extension of co-decision as the ordinary legislative procedure, and the introduction of the assent procedure to international agreements. The reform of comitology (Article 291) and the introduction of the new instrument of delegated acts (Article 290) are generally seen in the same light, marking the culmination of a long-standing quest of the EP to gain equal rights to the Council in this area. This article questions the view that the Parliament has had unconditional ‘success’ by examining in detail the way the new provisions have been implemented. It argues that Member States in the Council managed to claw back influence on delegated powers through the manner that the new treaty articles have been put into practice. We identify the EP’s timing and selective attention with regard to this domain as the main explanations for this outcome. Our analysis demonstrates the need to study the actual implementation of treaty provisions before coming to a conclusion about the identity of ‘winners’ and ‘losers’ of treaty reform.

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