ORGANIC LAW

Certain European laws of statutory importance should be required to pass higher QMV thresholds in both Council and Parliament than the thresholds applying to ordinary laws. At the top of the hierarchy of norms, we propose therefore to install a new category of organic law. Among the measures to be made subject to organic laws are the following:-

  • breach of rule of law (Article 7 TEU)
  • composition of the European Parliament (Article 14(2) TEU)
  • simplified treaty revision procedure (Article 48(6) TEU)
  • new anti-discrimination measures (Article 19 TFEU)
  • new citizenship rights (Article 22 TFEU)
  • new powers in asylum and immigration (Article 77(3) TFEU)
  • cross-border police operations (Article 89 TFEU)
  • harmonisation of indirect taxation (Article 113 TFEU)
  • stability and growth pact (Article 126(14) TFEU)
  • European stability mechanism (Article 136 TFEU)
  • electoral law (Article 223 TFEU) 
  • own resources decision (Article 311 TFEU)
  • multi-annual financial framework (Article 312 TFEU)
  • enhanced cooperation in foreign and security policy (Article 329 TFEU)
  • location of institutional seats (Article 341 TFEU)
  • decisions on languages (Article 342 TFEU)
  • flexibility clause (Article 352 TFEU)

 

The passage of organic laws would require Parliament to vote by at least an absolute majority of its members. The Council might pass an organic law by a quota of, say, 75% of the weighted vote. Acts passed under the ordinary legislative procedure would require a simple majority of the Parliament and over half the weighted votes in the Council [46].  The introduction of the new hierarchy of norms coupled with the reform of Council voting rules will both ease the taking of decisions and render the whole legislative system much simpler and clearer than it is at present. 

The Treaty of Lisbon installed a number of bridging or passerelle clauses allowing the European Council to change the decision-making procedure in the Council from unanimity to QMV or to shift a special legislative procedure to the ordinary legislative procedure [47].  There is also one general passerelle clause with wider potential [48].  None of these passerelles have ever been used. In the light of our proposed extension of the ordinary legislative procedure and the introduction of organic laws, all these Lisbon passerelles could safely be abolished. 

Unanimity will still be required in the Council to amend a proposal from the Commission, as it is today as part of the ordinary legislative or budgetary procedures [49].  In all other cases, however, unanimity in the Council must be suppressed. The fruits of such a reform will be seen immediately in areas, such as tax evasion, where states have hid behind procedural arguments in the protection of some vested interest, spurious or otherwise. 

[46] Article 238 TFEU. Certain higher thresholds are foreseen in the present treaty for the annual budgetary procedure (Article 314(7)(d)) and the operation of the Article 7 breach of the treaties provisions (Article 354 TFEU). These could be replicated under a reformed voting procedure.
[47] Articles 81, 153, 192, 312 and 333 TFEU. 
[48] Article 48(7) TEU. 
[49] Article 293 TFEU.

 

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