When the Lisbon Treaty came into force on 1 December 2009, one of the big winners was the European Parliament which gained equal status with the Council of Ministers in most EU decision-making, including for the first time agricultural policy-making (although with some ambiguity about its role in setting prices and aid levels to which Wyn Grant has drawn attention). There is considerable interest in whether these new powers will be used to promote or block CAP reform. The pessimistic view is that the EP will become the focus of intense sectoral lobbying which will be used to block reform.
Some light may be thrown on the way the EP will exercise its new legislative role by looking at trade policy, another area where the Parliament gained new powers under the Lisbon Treaty. Currently, the EU-South Korean Free Trade Agreement, which was negotiated under the old Nice Treaty rules, is up for ratification under the new Lisbon rules. According to a report in EUObserver, there is a possibility that the EP could reject the agreement, in large part because of lobbying by European small car manufacturers.
The EUObserver report notes that a debate in the Parliament next week will throw light on the stance of the European legislature, with observers predicting support or opposition is likely to fall along national rather than political lines. One MEP, Christofer Fjellner, a member of the parliament’s trade committee and a supporter of the agreement is quoted: “It would be very disturbing if the first thing the European Parliament does with its new powers is to take special interests to heart and increasingly act in a protectionist way.”
A signpost of things to come in agricultural policy ?