« Laws are like sausages, it is better not to see them being made »

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The EU-decision making process is a complex one. Firearms United has been following the EU legislation process up close and personal since the day ill-conceived proposal from the commission saw the light of day, and based on what we have seen, Otto von Bismarck was right when he (allegedly) said: « Laws are like sausages, it is better not to see them being made.« 

The « Trilogue » is still ongoing and we are now in the phase called: « First Reading »

That is where in a nutshell The European Parliament examines the Commission’s proposal and may:

  • adopt it or
  • introduce amendments to it

After that the Council may:

  • decide to accept the Parliament’s position: in such a case the legislative act is adopted
  • amend the Parliament’s position: the proposal is returned to the Parliament for a second reading

What ACTUALLY really happened so far was that in council France, Germany, Italy and Spain did some shady dealing in backstage and sent a veiled threat in the letter and thus heavily dictated the Council position to which some improvements were pushed in by some countries (FI, CZ, etc).

During that time, the parliament examined the proposal, noticed that it was « unworkable » (We have to agree with the rapporteurs on this one!). Some 900 or so amendmends were made, some voted in – some left out – but in the end we had parliament position. In the trilogue meetings during autumn, a compromise – which we described and published earlier – was reached.

This brings us to present day – The key parts of the proposal are still unfinished (the ones that got this mess started in the first place – deactivation rules) and the parliament is due to vote on the proposal in March – over month before the new deactivation rule proposal is even returning from comments round.

Now two things may happen – either proposal is approved or amended, which brings us to

« The Second Reading »

In the Second reading the European Parliament examines the Council’s position and either:

  • approves it: the act is adopted
  • rejects it: the act will not enter into force and the whole procedure ends
  • proposes amendments and returns the proposal to Council for a second reading

The Council examines the Parliament’s second reading position and either:

  • approves all of the Parliament’s amendments: the act is adopted
  • does not approve all amendments: the conciliation committee is convened

The Council votes by qualified majority on the Parliament’s amendments for which the Commission has delivered a positive opinion. It votes unanimously on the Parliament’s amendments for which the Commission has delivered a negative opinion. The Council can only react to the Parliament’s amendments. All this happens within three months.

So what now?

We know for a FACT that some MEPs who believe in civil rights and and also know the topic well are about to introduce some amendments to the proposal. This is because we have been working together to define those amendments in some cases.

One of three things will happen, and they are in order of probability as follows:

  • The Parliament approves the current compromise as is (amendments do not get enough votes).
  • The parliament introduces the amendments to improve directive and remove the parts that impact law abiding citizens. We end up to second reading.
  • The process somehow gets delayed past the French election, and depending on the results, all bets are off.

We have received lot veiled indications that if the process goes to second reading, the commission and council will push even for stricter directive than the current compromise.

That is a clear indication that they do not want the second reading. Does this mean, that the longer this process drags on, the more publicity it gets and the lower the probability that it actually passes is, and the commission and council are now using scare tactics?

Time will tell. We certainly live interesting times.

You can find details regarding the whole legislation process from here: http://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/council-eu/decision-making/ordinary-legislative-procedure/second-reading/

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