The new European Commission has reduced the number of legislative proposals in its work program. As a result the European Parliament has less to do and many of the members of the parliament (MEPs) have become “technically unemployed”. This seems to have resulted in MEPs asking more questions to the Commission.
In a recent answer given by Vice-President Frans Timmermans on behalf of the Commission, he states that the Commission attaches great importance to Parliament’s right of democratic scrutiny and to giving replies of high quality to parliamentary questions. However, he also complains that the ever increasing number of questions does entail considerable costs for the Commission.
Only during the first four months of 2015, 6 000 questions were asked. If the current trend continues, this will results in some 17.000 parliamentary questions for the year 2015. The time spent by the Commission staff in replying to parliamentary questions will represent at least 76 full-time equivalents. This can be expressed as approximately EUR 490 per question.
The average number of questions per MEP in 2015 is 9. This average increases to 133 for ten MEPs, with the frontrunner having asked 193 questions! Each written reply to a parliamentary question generates a bureaucratic process in the Commission including attribution, drafting, validation, inter-service coordination, collegiate endorsement, and finally translation.
The note from Timmermans does not disclose what the MEPs are asking about and how the questions are distributed by policy area.
By Mose Apelblat