The investigative function of the European Parliament: Holding the EU executive to account by conducting investigations

The investigative function of the European Parliament: Holding the EU executive to account by conducting investigations

by Christian Syrier

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9789058509598
Publisher: Wolf Legal Publishers
Publication date: 04/01/2013
Pages: 288
Product dimensions: 6.30(w) x 9.30(h) x 0.80(d)

Table of Contents

1 Introduction 1

1.1 Introduction 1

1.2 The Alleged Accountability Deficit in the EU 2

1.3 The Concept of Accountability 3

1.3.1 Defining accountability 3

1.3.2 Purposes of accountability 4

1.3.2.1 Direct purposes of accountability 4

1.3.2.2 Indirect purposes of accountability 6

1.3.3 Three accountability stages 7

1.4 Holding the Executive to Account by Conducting Investigations 8

1.4.1 Political accountability 8

1.4.2 The EU executive as actor and the European Parliament as forum 8

1.4.3 Parliamentary investigations as an accountability instrument 9

1.4.3.1 Accountability investigations 10

1.4.3.2 Non-accountability investigations 10

1.4.3.3 Object of research: accountability investigations 11

1.5 Research Questions and Methodology 11

2 Investigations by Temporary Committees of Inquiry 13

2.1 Introduction 13

2.2 The Right of Inquiry Prior to Maastricht 15

2.3 The Right of Inquiry Since Maastricht; Legal Framework 18

2.3.1 Article 226 TFEU 18

2.3.2 Interinstitutional Agreement 19

2.3.3 Rules of Procedure of the European Parliament 21

2.3.4 Legal status of the arrangements 22

2.3.5 Duty of sincere cooperation 23

2.4 Proceedings and Powers of Committees of Inquiry 24

2.4.1 Chronological proceedings 24

2.4.2 Establishment and composition of committees of inquiry 26

2.4.2.1 Quorum 26

2.4.2.2 Formal requirements 27

2.4.2.3 Duration of inquiries 27

2.4.2.4 Composition of committees of inquiry 28

2.4.2.5 Staff of committees 28

2.4.3 Scope of the right of inquiry 29

2.4.3.1 Object of investigation 29

2.4.3.2 Subject of investigation 34

2.4.4 Powers of committees of inquiry 35

2.4.1.1 The right to call witnesses 35

2.4.4.1 Legal position of witnesses 40

2.4.4.2 Access to documents 43

2.4.4.3 Fact-finding visits 45

2.4.4.4 Sanctions 46

2.4.5 Legal protection in the course of inquiries 49

2.4.5.1 Legal protection against the establishment of a committee of inquiry 49

2.4.5.2 Legal protection against acts of committees of inquiry 51

2.4.6 Inquiry outcomes and follow-up 52

2.5 The Right of Inquiry in Practice: Inquiries Since 1993 54

2.5.1 Inquiry into the Community Transit System 55

2.5.1.1 Subject, establishment and duration of the inquiry 55

2.5.1.2 Inquiry proceedings 56

2.5.1.3 The committee's final report 60

2.5.1.4 Chairman's evaluation of the committee's working methods 64

2.5.1.5 Plenary debate of 12 March 1997 66

2.5.1.6 Follow-up to the inquiry 67

2.5.2 Inquiry into BSE 69

2.5.2.1 Subject, establishment and duration of the inquiry 69

2.5.2.2 Concurrence with judicial investigations 70

2.5.2.3 Inquiry proceedings 72

2.5.2.4 The committee's final report 78

2.5.2.5 Chairman's evaluation of the committee's working methods 82

2.5.2.6 Plenary debate of 18 February 1937 84

2.5.2.7 Follow-up to the inquiry 86

2.5.3 Inquiry into the crisis of the Equitable Life Assurance Society 88

2.5.3.1 Subject, establishment and duration of the inquiry 88

2.5.3.2 Inquiry proceedings 90

2.5.3.3 The committee's final report 95

2.5.3.4 The role of committees of inquiry 97

2.5.3.5 Plenary debate of 19 June 2007 101

2.5.3.6 Follow-up to the inquiry 102

2.5.4 Assessment of the parliamentary inquiries held since 1993 103

2.5.4.1 Gathering of evidence 103

2.5.4.2 Three inquiries, one working method? 106

2.5.4.3 Legal limitations in practice 107

2.5.4.4 The fall of the Santer Commission: a missed opportunity? 111

2.6 The Future Shape of the Right of Inquiry 112

2.6.1 Should the right of inquiry be strengthened? 113

2.6.2 Proposed modifications to the right of inquiry 115

2.6.2.1 The scope of the right of inquiry 116

2.6.2.2 The powers of committees of inquiry 117

2.6.2.3 Legal protection in the course of inquiries 120

2.6.2.4 Remarks on the proposed modifications 120

2.7 Conclusion 123

3 Investigations by Temporary Special Committees 129

3.1 Introduction 129

3.2 Special Committees Prior To Maastricht 129

3.3 Special Committees Since Maastricht; Legal Framework 130

3.4 Proceedings of Special Committees 133

3.4.1 Chronological proceedings 133

3.4.2 Individual aspects of the investigations 134

3.4.2.1 Duration of investigations 134

3.4.2.2 Committee meetings 134

3.4.2.3 Bureau, rapporteur, coordinators, and shadow rapporteurs 135

3.4.2.4 The role of the rapporteur 135

3.4.2.5 Committee staff 136

3.4.2.6 Minority opinions 136

3.5 Practice of Special Committees Since 1993 136

3.5.1 Employment (1994-1995) 137

3.5.2 BSE follow-up (1997) 137

3.5.3 Echelon (2000-2001) 138

3.5.4 Human genetics (2001) 140

3.5.5 Foot-and-mouth disease (2002) 141

3.5.6 Improving safety at sea (2003-2004) 142

3.5.7 Policy challenges and budgetary means of the enlarged Union 2007-2013 (2003-2004) 143

3.5.8 CIA flights (2006-2007) 144

3.5.9 Climate change (2007-2008) 145

3.5.10 Financial, economic, and social crisis (2009-2010) 146

3.5.11 Policy Challenges and Budgetary Resources for a Sustainable European Union after 2013 (2010-2011) 146

3.5.12 Organized crime, corruption and money laundering 147

3.5.13 Types of investigation: concluding remarks 147

3.6 Accountability Investigations By Special Committees 149

3.6.1 BSE follow-up 149

3.6.1.1 Subject, establishment and duration of the investigation 149

3.6.1.2 Committee proceedings 150

3.6.1.3 The committee's final report 152

3.6.1.4 Plenary debate of IS November 1997 154

3.6.1.5 Follow-up to the investigation 155

3.6.2 Echelon 156

3.6.2.1 Subject, establishment and duration of the investigation 156

3.6.2.2 Committee proceedings 157

3.6.2.3 The committee's final report 161

3.6.2.4 Plenary debate of 5 September 2001 163

3.6.2.5 Follow-up to the investigation 164

3.6.3 Foot-and-mouth disease 165

3.6.3.1 Subject, establishment and duration of the investigation 165

3.6.3.2 Committee proceedings 165

3.6.3.3 The committee's final report 167

3.6.3.4 Plenary debate of 17 December 2002 167

3.6.3.5 Follow-up to the investigation 168

3.6.4 Improving safety at sea 169

3.6.4.1 Subject, establishment and duration of the investigation 169

3.6.4.2 Committee proceedings 170

3.6.4.3 The committee's final report 172

3.6.1.1 Plenary debate of 20 April 2004 174

3.6.4.1 Follow-up to the investigation 175

3.6.5 CIA flights 175

3.6.5.1 Subject, establishment and duration of the investigation 175

3.6.5.2 Committee proceedings 177

3.6.5.3 The committee's final report 179

3.6.5.4 Plenary debate of 14 February 2007 182

3.6.5.5 Follow-up to the investigation 183

3.7 Gathering of Information 183

3.7.1 Oral information 183

3.7.2 Written information 186

3.7.3 Fact-finding visits 186

3.8 Conclusion 187

4 Investigations by Standing Committees 191

4.1 Introduction 191

4.2 Standing Committees of the European Parliament 192

4.2.1 Sectoral and functional committees 192

4.2.2 Committee members 194

4.2.3 Committee bureaux 194

4.2.4 Rapporteurs, draftspersons and shadow rapporteurs 195

4.2.5 Group coordinators 196

4.2.6 Committee staff 196

4.2.7 Own-initiative reports 196

4.3 Gathering of Information: Legal Procedures and Informal Practices 197

4.3.1 European Commission 197

4.3.2 European Council 199

4.3.3 Council of the European Union 200

4.3.4 European Central Bank 201

4.3.5 EU agencies 202

4.4 Accountability Investigations by Standing Committees 203

4.4.1 Inquiry-type investigations 204

4.4.2 Investigations following petitions 207

4.4.3 Investigations in the course of the discharge procedure 210

4.4.3.1 Timetable of the discharge procedure 211

4.4.3.2 Holding the executive to account through the discharge procedure 212

4.4.3.3 Discharge to the Commission 214

4.4.3.4 Discharge to EU agencies: two case studies 216

4.4.4 Investigations regarding the implementation of EV legislation 221

4.5 Conclusion 224

5 Conclusion 227

5.1 Three Types of Committees 227

5.2 Formal Investigative Powers; Status Quo and Future Perspectives 231

5.3 Beyond Formal Powers; Incentives to Investigate and to Cooperate 236

5.4 Mutual Influence Between Stages of Accountability 239

5.5 Strengthening the Investigative Function of the Parliament 240

5.6 Outlook 245

Samenvatting 251

Bibliography 257

Curriculum Vitae 271

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