Lobby groups
Parliament
0 On DEsite
1 General
2 Pillar structure
3 Bodies
4 Decision-making
5 Lobby groups
  • On lobbying
  • Commission
  • Parliament
  • Council
  • 6 Case histories
    7 Information and publications

    Parliament is playing an increasingly important role in the community decision-making processes. The Treaty of Amsterdam reinforced this by making the co-decision procedure, in which Parliament together with the Council acts as legislator, the most requisite kind of decision-making method.

    On the whole, members of Parliament are sympathetic towards NGOs. As they need to study a multitude of subjects, background information is very useful. NGOs can also point out less obvious consequences of a decision.

    In Parliament, too, the NGOs come into a particular path as early as possible. Commission proposals are first dealt with in parliamentary committees, where the decisions of the plenary sessions are prepared. The Rapporteur is the most important person in this process as he writes the draft opinion. This is discussed in the committee, whose members may propose amendments, and submitted to the plenary session after voting.

    Though it is formally possible, it is unusual for new amendments to be submitted at the plenary-session stage, particularly since it is unworkable to discuss everything with the large number of 626 members. The final text, therefore, is most amenable to pressure at the moment a subject is being dealt with in a committee. This is why NGOs contact members of the committee or the Rapporteur at such an early point to voice their point of view, provide information, or even make concrete proposals for amendments.

    The (deputy) chairmen of the committees and the coordinators are also important to the NGOs. Each parliamentary party has one coordinator. Together they take care of the political preparation and decide which subject will go to which parliamentary party in the committee.

    Parliament also keeps in touch with NGOs on a more formal basis, such as by means of hearings. These are organised by committees several times a year and present an opportunity for NGOs and other interested parties to voice their point of view.

    Parliament uses an accreditation system: registered NGOs can obtain a so-called ´laissez-passer´. This pass is valid for one year and grants NGOs access to the parliamentary premises to enable them to do their job there on the condition that they abide by a code of behaviour. This code implies they must always state which interest they represent, may not obtain information by unfair means, and may not profit from passing on to third parties copies of documents obtained in Parliament. Non-compliance with the code of behaviour can result in withdrawal of the laissez-passer.