Comitology – Commission proposal would do little for accountability or public health
The European Commission has today published its long-awaited proposal for the reform of the comitology process, used to approve or renew products, such as GMOs and pesticides (see background below). The proposal comes after a series of “no opinion” conclusions from standing committees, due to a number of member states consistently abstaining.
Commenting on the proposals, Greens/EFA transparency spokesperson Benedek Jávor said:
“While we are pleased that the Commission is finally taking action, the proposals announced today fall far short of what is needed. They are merely tinkering with a system that needs to be completely overhauled. The decision making process must be made more accountable and much more transparent. For this to be achieved, decisions should fall to the governments of the EU member states and the European Parliament.”
Green food safety spokesperson Bart Staes added:
“We have seen time and time again that important decisions on GMOs and pesticides are being taken behind closed doors. Give these decisions, as in the recent case of glyphosate, carry significant health implications, they need to be made more openly. The Commission would clearly like to have greater political backing for the approval of GMOs and pesticides, but these proposals will simply mask the political disputes linked to GMO authorisations in the EU.”
The Commission suggests four targeted amendments:
- The qualified majority (55% of Member States representing 65% of population) in the appeal committee will be calculated only on the basis of the number of Member States taking part in the vote (either in favour or against), while abstentions would carry no voting weight at all.
- Transparency of the votes in the appeal committee
- When no opinion is reached either in Standing Committee or in appeal Committee, there will be the possibility of a second referral to the Appeal Committee where Member States are represented at Ministerial level
- Introduction of a right for the Commission to refer the matter to Council for a non-binding opinion/position