Once the directive on the single market for supplementary pensions is released by the European Commission it will be handled by the parliament through a ‘co-decision procedure’, explains Pia-Noora Kauppi.
“This means that when Commissioner Bolkestein gives the draft directive, it goes simultaneously to the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament (EP).”
At that point both institutions have their own procedures.
Kauppi explains the EP approach: “The directive comes to our Committee of Economic and Monetary Affairs, where we first nominate a rapporteur for the “first reading of the directive”.
The ‘co-decision procedure’, she says, has two stages in the EP.
“The first reading begins with the initial debate in the committee, which is also the basis for the rapporteur to prepare a draft report collecting parliament’s views on the issue.
“Then, the rapporteur brings the draft report to the committee and we have two debates on the subject. The first is a general discussion where members of the committee are free to state their opinions. The deadline for amendments is also given at this stage.
“The second debate is more detailed. There, the political groups and members discuss detailed amendments to the report and the articles. After this debate, the committee votes on the amendments and normally adopts the report in an amended form.”
Following this final report from the committee - including detailed amended articles – the draft then goes to the plenary session, she says.
The whole Parliament then debates the issue and votes.
And the process takes some time, as Kauppi points out: “ Once the EP has voted, this means that we have finalised the first reading, which normally takes something like two to three months.”
Meanwhile, the Council has also decided on possible amendments, and at this point both reports go to the special working groups of the COREPER.
Here, a ‘common position’ is adopted, first in the COREPER and then in the Council of Ministers, which becomes a legislative text taking into account amendments which are ready for inclusion in the directive. “Normally the EP views are taken seriously by the Council and most of the amendments are adopted, “ says Kauppi.
The common position then goes to the EP for its second reading. “We will again nominate a rapporteur in our committee whose job is to give an opinion on whether the EP should adopt the common position or not.
“If the rapporteur thinks the EP views from the first reading have been sufficiently considered, a report is normally written suggesting adoption.
“However, the rapporteur can also demand that the Council rethinks some of the amendments it has not adopted in the common position,” she notes.
To be adopted in the EP second reading, these renewed amendments have to be clear the plenary by an absolute majority – 314 votes - whereas in the first reading a simple majority is enough. If the directive is ready, the process normally takes around two months. If they do not adopt the EP second reading amendments, the directive goes to a conciliation procedure where delegations from the EP, Council and the Commission negotiate on the amendments until they have reached a consensus, which adds a couple of months to the schedule.
A directive may be imminent, but there is some way to go before it sees the light of day.