In one of my previous post, I tried to explain how we, Officials at the EC, are accountable to the Europarliament. Well there is another layer of accountability towards Members States this time: Comitology.
So you would think that the EC who is getting more and more autonomy could just act as a rogue beast and passed any legislation it wants to. WRONG! Member states are watching us and they make sure, very carefully, that their parochial interests are preserved.
Basically, the EC has the right of initiatives on a large number of topics (eg agriculture, internal market, competition, etc.) but since the 60's, Members States have developed Comitology. In short, there are now more than 250 committees that scrutinize our works and depending on the topic, the EC cannot issue a regulation without the assent of the oversight committee.
I will take two examples:
1) In the Regulatory Procedure, with regard to health for example, the EC can't do a single thing without the agreement of the Committee. If the committee rules against, the Parliament can be consulted. And at the end, the Council of the EU has the final word, ie Member States.
2) In the Management Procedure, with regard to the Common Agricultural Policy for example, the EC can ignore the committee's opinion. Still the Council of the EU has the final word.
As a conclusion, it is clear Member States have a good idea of what we are doing. If they don't and say that EC is coming up with a surprise piece of legislation, then maybe they should be more active in the different committees. I hope it is becoming clear to you what is the role of the EC in the Union. My next post will deal with that question and answer the question of Grahnlaw, a fellow Euroblogger.