With the coming into force of the Lisbon Treaty today, the decision-making procedure under the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) has changed significantly.

With the coming into force of the Lisbon Treaty today, the decision-making procedure under the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) has changed significantly.

Until now, EC legislation on fisheries and aquaculture were adopted in line with the consultation procedure which meant that the Council of Ministers could, on a proposal from the European Commission, adopt EC legislation on CFP matters. The Council had to consult the European Parliament’s opinion on the proposal before voting on it. However, the Council was not bound by the Parliament’s opinion. Consequently, the Parliament only had limited power; it had to hope for its work to be taken into account by the Council, but there was no guarantee.

From 1st December 2009, most matters falling under the CFP will have to be adopted in accordance with a new legislative procedure, the co-decision procedure. This means a proposal from the Commission is negotiated and adopted jointly by the Council and the Parliament. As a result, the Parliament will cease to be a mere consultative institution and be placed on an equal footing with the Council in the decision-making process: neither the Council, nor the Parliament can adopt a legislative act without the agreement of the other. The expected time span between the publication of a proposal by the Commission and the moment of its adoption by the Parliament and the Council will inevitably take longer under this new procedure, and is expected to take two years. Although the procedure will be slower, it will also be more transparent. The longer procedure will make it almost impossible for the Council to continue taking decisions on detailed measures as has so far been the case. It is currently still unclear how this will be dealt with, but probably more detailed measures will be left for the Commission to decide on.

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