vrijdag 3 februari 2012

Written Declarations

Written Declarations 

So what are they?

Written Declarations are a bit of an odd instrument that the European Parliament can use. Basically it is a text of a maximum of 200 words on a matter falling within the European Union’s sphere of activities. Written declarations are printed in all the official languages, distributed and entered in a register. MEPs can use written declarations to launch or relaunch a debate on a subject that comes within the EU’s remit. In order for a Written Declaration to be passed, half of the Parliament needs to have signed it. This sometimes creates funny little campaigns and campaignteams within the EP-buildings. However some MEP Assistants find them quite annoying.

What are they not?

Rule 12 of the written procedures explicitly says that the contents of a written declaration may not go beyond the form of a declaration and may not, in particular, contain any decision on matters for which specific procedures and competences are laid down in these Rules of Procedure. For legislations this is obvious, however sometimes the difference between a Parliament resolution and a Written declaration becomes murky especially when it touched on Human Rights or Foreign Policy. It goes without saying though that Resolutions trump Declarations, i.e are more stronger measures of conveying a message.

How are written declarations adopted? 
  • A group of up to five MEPs can submit a written declaration by presenting a text to be signed by their colleagues.
  • If the declaration is signed by a majority of the MEPs, it is forwarded to the President, who announces it in plenary.
  • At the end of the part-session, the declaration is forwarded to the institutions named in the text, together with the names of the signatories.
  • It is included in the minutes of the sitting at which it is announced.
  • Publication in the minutes closes the procedure.
How can written declarations further my advocacy or my case? 

Written declaration do not have the political soft-power that resolutions have. They have however great agenda-setting or exposure potential. If a written declaration is circulated heavily and brought under the attention of a lot of MEP's, it is certainly a good tool to "market" an issue. This is even more so if there is a signigicant amount of MEP supporting the declaration. Then the written declaration can be used to gain moment for agenda-setting. Another thing that written declaration do is that they anchor positions of MEP, which you can refer to in future dealings. 

Examples of written declarations

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