Shifting Power between European Institutions: The EU-US open skies agreement
Title: Shifting Power between European Institutions: The EU-US open skies agreement
Citation: Directorate-General for External Policies. Policy Department (ed.), Workshop. Transatlantic Economic Relations [Brussels], European Parliament, Directorate-General for External Policies of the Union, 2012, 77-88
This briefing paper examines the conduct and interplay between the European institutions on an important international agreement, the Open Skies Agreement (OSA) with the US of 2007/2010. The paper examines the OSA as its main case study to generate transferable lessons for future international bargains and with particular reference to European Parliamentarians about how to successfully exercise their oversight role. To this end it examines the position of the European Commission and how – in this case- the Commission obtained the sole negotiation power with the external partner; an important shift of negotiating rights from member states to a supranational institution. The paper goes onto describe the process and outcome of this set of negotiations and why the OSA came to be renegotiated. It then analyzes the implications of the agreement as regards the shift of competences between member states and the Council on the one hand and the Commission on the other hand, as well as the implications for the new competences of the European Parliament in international agreements under the Lisbon Treaty. Such lessons will be vital to be understood by European officials and legislators as they move forward into future trade negotiations, and therefore this case study serves as one of the few extant examples of where such lessons can be found. This research suggests that in the impending third stage of negotiations on this issue that the European Parliament is likely to have an enhanced role, and could position itself to improve this even further. This is a direct result of its Lisbon powers – connected to the EU’s negotiation of external treaties- and that it can now effectively force the Commission and Member Governments to take its views into account, something that in the first two sets of negotiations had been underplayed. The Parliament had made a series of excellent critiques of the negotiations and the Treaty, but without the ability to bring its views to the fore. Finally, this research finds that the introduction of the Joint Committee is a potentially problematic, as the European Parliament is merely a stakeholder, rather than exerting full legislative oversight (known as a check and balance function). The surveying of implementation and fleshing out of implementing decisions in important areas of policy making such as security, safety, traffic rights, ownership and control, competition, and environment was given to a new transatlantic decision-making body, the Joint Committee, consisting of executive representatives of the EU and the US respectively which decides by consensus and without need of being confirmed by the respective legislatures. The Parliament at best will be consulted in the decisions of the Joint Committee, an informal role based on influence rather than a formalised role, something that should be avoided in other negotiations.
Type of Access: openAccess
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