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European Community

Volume 978: debated on Wednesday 6 February 1980

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asked the Prime Minister if it is the view of Her Majesty's Government that there is authority in the Treaty setting up the European Economic Community for the Assembly elected by direct universal suffrage to exercise other than advisory and supervisory powers expressly conferred upon it by the Treaty; and if she will publish a list of those powers, distinguishing between the advisory and the supervisory.

There is no authority in the Treaty for the directly-elected Parliament to exercise any power other than those conferred on it by the treaties.The Parliament exercises advisory powers when it uses its right under a treaty provision to express its opinion or make a recommendation. There are numerous instances throughout each of the Community Treaties where consultation of the Parliament is mandatory in the legislative process, but in none of these instances is the Council required to follow the advice given by the Parliament.The Parliament exercises supervisory powers of two kinds—budgetary powers and powers in relation to the Commission.The budgetary powers may be summarised as follows:—

  • (1) The Parliament can amend any provision in the draft community budget relating to non-obligatory expenditure—almost all expenditure items except those connected with the CAP. The Parliament has the last word subject to a ceiling on total expenditure—calculated by the Commission—which can be overstepped only by agreement of both Parliament and Council;
  • (2) The Parliament can also propose to modify items of obligatory expenditure—that is, largely CAP. If these modifications increase expenditure they fall unless approved by a qualified majority vote in the Council. If they do not increase overall expenditure they stand unless rejected by the Council's qualified majority vote;
  • (3) The Parliament has the power to adopt the budget;
  • (4) The Parliament may reject the entire draft budget by a majority of its members and two-thirds of the votes cast.
  • The Parliament may require the Commission to reply orally or in writing to questions put to it either by the Parliament or by its members. By passing a vote of censure by a two-thirds majority on the Commission the Parliament may force it to resign as a body.