After officially becoming a EU Girl Geek, I decided to give one more try to our (very infrequent) EU geek quiz series. So, digging deeply, for mere academic purposes, into the Commission’s internal rules of procedure, as amended in February 2010, I did not have many difficulties in finding some very geeky details.
Now, of course, no one would blame you for not knowing this. You might even pass a concours and start working for the EU institutions, completely ignoring its existence. But just in case you come across it and want to show off with your EU knowledge, here are a few facts about the finalisation written procedure. You may be aware that the Commission takes decisions either by oral procedure, written procedure, empowerment or delegation. But what if a file starts as an oral procedure and ends up in a written procedure? And in what circumstances does this happen?
The Commission’s most visible activity consists of the decisions coming out of the weekly College meeting. These are the issues that are decided using the oral procedure and are usually the ones with a big political weight or/ and that have stirred controversy already at the stage of inter-service consultation (the earliest step in policy preparation). But there is always a limit to the issues that can actually be discussed at the College meeting and that can thus make top headlines at the press conference thereafter.
This is the main reason behind the more and more frequent use of the finalisation written procedure. According to this procedure, the Heads of Cabinets (at their weekly meeting on Mondays) or the Commissioners, at their Wednesday meeting, can decide to switch some items initially assigned to the oral procedure to being decided through the written procedure. Thus, the decisions can be taken after the College meeting (usually Thursdays), allowing the Commissioners to focus on the most important and controversial issues and, at the same time, being likely to attract media attention that they might have missed by being just a part of a busy Wednesday agenda. Smart move…