Pursuant to Article 138 of the Rules of Procedure of the European Parliament, Members, political groups and parliamentary committees have the right to submit questions for written answer to the Commission, the President of the European Council, the Council and the Vice-President of the Commission and High Representative of the Union.
Questions for written answer are an instrument that enables Parliament to obtain the additional information it needs to carry out its legislative functions, as well as to properly perform the functions of supervision and control on behalf of voters from the countries of the European Union.
There can be no talk of a functioning democracy without transparent procedures, accountability and well-functioning institutions.
Unfortunately, the procedure for answering questions is not transparent. In addition, the answers are too often vague or evasive. As a result, they do not receive specific answers or information on matters of interest to them, which makes this instrument of parliamentary oversight illusory.
On 03 September 2020, Polish Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Elżbieta Kruk of the European Conservatives and Reformists Group, raised a written parliamentary question to the European Commission. MEP Kruk asked the Commission “what are the formal procedures for replying to the questions referred to in Article 138 of the Rules of Procedure?” and who were the actual authors of the draft answers.
In closing, MEP Kruk enquired “does the Commission intend to amend the procedure for replying to Parliament’s questions so as to provide timely and comprehensive responses?”
On 26 November, Interinstitutional Relations and Foresight Commissioner and Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič responded on behalf of the European Commission. In his answer, he explained that “parliamentary questions are an integral part of the Commission’s special partnership with the European Parliament and an important political scrutiny tool to which the Commission attaches utmost importance”.
Commissioner Šefčovič stated that “as part of its interinstitutional obligations, the Commission is committed to providing timely and pertinent replies to parliamentary questions” and “the answers are given by the responsible Member of the College, on behalf of the Commission, and after validation by the College of Commissioners”. He reported that “each draft reply is subject to inter-service consultation to integrate additional expertise, then it is complemented and approved by the responsible College Member(s)”.
Commissioner and Vice-President Šefčovič underlined that “the final reply is validated by the entire College of Commissioners” and “once the reply has been approved by the College, it is translated into the language of the Honourable Member(s) author(s) of the question, and sent to the European Parliament”.
In closing, Mr Sefcovic declared that “the Commission is constantly working to improve and rationalise the management of parliamentary questions, respect the deadlines and provide qualitative replies, so as to honour its obligations vis-à-vis the European Parliament and to meet in a transparent way the citizens’ needs for high-quality and pertinent information”.
Photo Credit : https://www.dw.com/en/what-does-the-european-parliament-actually-do/a-48610525