Written by Clare Ferguson
The Members’ Research Service of EPRS is on a mission: to provide Members of the European Parliament with systematic and automatic analysis on all substantial proposals for EU legislation at every stage of the legislative procedure.
This strategy of routine programming of pro-active publications, deliberately takes the political cycle into account, and aims to ensure that all the Parliament’s Members have a fund of essential background information and analysis both leading up to and after deliberations on legislative proposals at the Committee and plenary stages. (These publications complement the targeted ex-ante impact assessments, to test the Commission’s own impact assessments, or of specific amendments put forward by Parliament, and any ex-post evaluation of existing legislation in the area – discussed in a forthcoming blog post.)
These ‘Legislation in progress‘ publications are slightly different to other EPRS briefings, in that they are designed to change and evolve as the discussion around the issue develops. As the topic is often both complex and sensitive, the document is drafted by an expert analyst working for the Members’ Research Service, who tracks progress on the legislation as it passes through the various stages, and liaises with Committee staff and others working on the same file, to ensure that each edition of the paper is an accurate snapshot of the latest situation.
Each analysis contains an account of the purpose, content and legal aspects of the legislation proposed, in particular analysing what the legislation would change, as well as any previous legislation and background. An overview of stakeholders’ views is also provided, as well as the opinions of national parliaments and the two Advisory committees. If relevant, a comparison may be included of similar legislation in other large federal bodies. Later, the context of amendment and negotiations before the vote in Committee, and discussions with, and within, the Council may be included, and lastly, an analysis of the vote in plenary completes the document’s cycle, as the proposal in question becomes law.
A ‘traffic light’ graphic is included on the front page of each publication, showing exactly, and quickly, which stage the legislative proposal has reached, be it with the Committee for vote, or already at the plenary stage (thus avoiding any unfortunate repeat readings of the same document). The next step in the political cycle is announced, and the document looks at, the current positions of the various EU institutions, and expectations for the process to come.
The series already includes publications on a range of EU policies, such as: revision of the Multiannual Financial Framework, imports of GM food and feed, the landing obligation: adapting fisheries to the reform, reform of the European small claims procedure, and reducing air pollution (national emission ceilings for air pollutants).