On politico.eu there is an interesting article on an attempt by EPP and S&D, the European Parliament’s biggest groups, to push through a “reform package” that would dramatically reduce the possibility of smaller groups to influence the outcome of proceedings.The move is justified by an alleged need to “reduce time-wasting abuse of procedures by Euroskeptic groups trying to gum up the legislative works.” In reality, however, the EP currently does not have many legislative files to work on consequent to Commission President Juncker’s decision, at the beginning of his mandate, to dramatically cut back the number of legislative proposals. As a result, the Parliament finds it now difficult to fill the agendas of its plenary sessions with debates on legislative files, and instead is multiplying other activities such as the drafting and adoption of non-legislative “initiative reports”, or similar. The need to streamline procedures thus appears a mere pretext for a “reform” that would damage the interests of all groups that are not the EPP and S&D – it is therefore no wonder that criticism comes from both the left (including the “liberal” ALDE) and the right.
One also has to wonder whether this attempt will in the end not be self-damaging for EPP and S&D, given that in several Member States it is the so-called “Eurosceptics” that did best in the 2014 EU elections: for example, the French party with the biggest number of MEPs is now the Front National, and in the UK it is the Torys and UKIP. If the “centrist” pay no attention, it might soon be themselves who will be squeezed out.
At the same time, Martin Schulz, whom in 2014 a vast majority of the European electorate did not desire to be appointed as the European Commission’s President (and who, following a strange “logic” of trade-offs between EPP and S&D was instead “rewarded” with an extra long turn as EP President…) is pursuing a personal agenda to gain more personal power and weaken that of individual MEPs. Reference is made to a secret strategy paper which EP Secretary General Klaus Welle was obliged to prepare for President Schulz as a blueprint for the creation of a powerful “US Speaker” type role for the EP President, marginalising backbenchers (e.g. by reducing their possibilities to ask written written or oral questions, to be allotted speaking time in plenary, or to propose amendments.
While this document has never been made public, Politico somehow got hold of a copy. It has the Orwellian title of “First reflections on European Parliamentary democracy” but could with better right simply be called a “Schulz’ Ermächtigungsgesetz”