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Excerpts of the Council Rules of Procedure

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Excerpts of the 'Council Rules of Procedure', plus the beginning of a review of the 'Council Guide', selected for relevance to the questions to be asked in a letter to the Council presidency after "adoption" of the Common Position 2005-03-07.

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Council Rules of Procedure

Article 3: Agenda

1. Taking into account the Council annual programme, the President shall draw up the provisional agenda for each meeting. The agenda shall be sent to the other members of the Council and to the Commission at least 14 days before the beginning of the meeting. (1) See statements (a) and (b) set out below # --> here irrelevant

2. The provisional agenda shall contain the items in respect of which a request for inclusion on the agenda, together with any documents relating thereto, has been received by the General Secretariat from a member of the Council or from the Commission at least 16 days before the beginning of that meeting. The provisional agenda shall also indicate by way of an asterisk the items on which the Presidency, a member of the Council or the Commission may request a vote. Such an indication shall be made once all the procedural requirements provided for by the Treaties have been complied with.

3. # irrelevant

4. Only items in respect of which the documents have been sent to the members of the Council and to the Commission at the latest by the date on which the provisional agenda is sent may be placed on that agenda.

5. The General Secretariat shall transmit to the members of the Council and to the Commission requests for the inclusion of items in the agenda and documents in respect of which the time limits specified above were not respected. # rest is irrelevant

6. The provisional agenda shall be divided into Part A and Part B. Items for which approval by the Council is possible without discussion shall be included in Part A, but this does not exclude the possibility of any member of the Council or of the Commission expressing an opinion at the time of the approval of these items and having statements included in the minutes.

7. The agenda shall be adopted by the Council at the beginning of each meeting. The inclusion in the agenda of an item other than those appearing on the provisional agenda shall require unanimity in the Council. Items entered in this way may be put to the vote if all the procedural requirements provided for by the Treaties have been complied with.

8. However, an "A" item shall be withdrawn from the agenda, unless the Council decides otherwise, if a position on an "A" item might lead to further discussion thereof or if a member of the Council or the Commission so requests.

9. # irrelevant

Article 6: Professional secrecy and production of documents in legal proceedings

1. Without prejudice to Articles 8 and 9 and to provisions on public access to documents, the deliberations of the Council shall be covered by the obligation of professional secrecy, except in so far as the Council decides otherwise.

2. The Council or Coreper may authorise the production for use in legal proceedings of a copy of or an extract from Council documents which have not already been released to the public in accordance with the provisions on public access to documents.

Article 8: Council deliberations open to the public and public debates

1. Council deliberations on acts to be adopted in accordance with the codecision procedure pursuant to Article 251 of the EC Treaty shall be open to the public as follows:

(a) # irrelevant

(b) the vote on legislative acts shall be open to the public, as well as the final Council deliberations leading to that vote and the explanations of voting accompanying it (1).

Footnote (1): See statement (c) set out below: (c) Concerning Article 8(1)(b): Article 8(1)(b) will be implemented in the following way: the Presidency will indicate in the provisional agenda, using the words "Public deliberation", those items on which the Council will take a vote at the end of the deliberations. This practical arrangement shall have no effect on the rule according to Article 11(1) of the Council's Rules of Procedure.

In such cases, Council deliberations shall be open to the public through transmission of the Council meeting by audiovisual means, notably in an overflow room. The outcome of voting shall be indicated by visual means.

Article 9: Making public votes, explanations of votes and minutes

1. and 2. # irrelevant

3. Votes shall not be made public in the case of discussions leading to indicative votes or the adoption of preparatory acts. # ???

Article 11: Voting arrangements and quorum

1. The Council shall vote on the initiative of its President. The President shall, furthermore, be required to open a voting procedure on the initiative of a member of the Council or of the Commission, provided that a majority of the Council's members so decides.

2. - 4. # irrelevant

Article 13: Minutes

1. Minutes of each meeting shall be drawn up and, when approved, shall be signed by the Secretary- General/High Representative for the common foreign and security policy (hereinafter referred to as "the Secretary-General") or the Deputy Secretary-General. They may delegate their power to sign to Directors-General of the General Secretariat.

The minutes shall as a general rule indicate in respect of each item on the agenda:

2. The draft minutes shall be drawn up by the General Secretariat within 15 days and submitted to the Council or to Coreper for approval.

3. Prior to such approval any member of the Council, or the Commission, may request that more details be inserted in the minutes regarding any item on the agenda. These requests may be made in Coreper.

Article 20: The Presidency and the businesslike conduct of discussions

1 (c) organise the time allotted for discussion of a particular item, in particular through limiting the time during which participants may speak and determining the order in which they may take the floor; (...)

ANNEX IV: WORKING METHODS FOR AN ENLARGED COUNCIL

Conduct of meetings

9. At the start of a discussion on a substantive point, the Presidency shall, depending on the type of discussion which is needed, indicate to delegations the maximum length of their interventions on that point. In most cases interventions should not exceed two minutes.

16. Unless indicated otherwise by the Presidency, delegations shall refrain from taking the floor when in agreement with a particular proposal; in this case silence will be taken as agreement in principle.

Council Guides Vol 1, Chapter I

3. The Presidency is neutral

The Presidency must, by definition, be neutral and impartial. It is the moderator for discussions and cannot therefore favour either its own preferences or those of a particular Member State. This presupposes both good coordination with its own State's spokesmen so that they can voice the national position without impeding the work of the Presidency, as well as taking due account, on their own merits, of all positions expressed.

The duty to be neutral exists alongside the political dimension which informs the conduct of Union business and which is particularly apparent in the order of priority set in the choice and handling of items of business. This order of priority is occasioned by considerations of topicality and of deadlines, as well as by the political tone which the Presidency wishes to set for its six-month period. In its role as moderator, the Presidency must also take action where it notes that a stalemate has occurred; this will take the form of compromise suggestions to reconcile the different interests involved in a single issue or a set of interconnected issues (package deal), which inevitably means that political choices have to be made.

5. The Presidency is always in the hands of the Council

Any procedural decision by the Presidency may be challenged by the Council by a simple majority. Any statement by or letter from the Presidency expressing the Council position, particularly in its relations with the other institutions, must meet with the Council's agreement.

CG Vol 1, Chapter III

4. The Council

(...)

Like the agenda for Coreper, the Council's agenda is divided into two parts:

(1) See also Chapter III, Section 4(g) , `Publication of votes

CG Vol 1, Chapter III

4 d) The Council proceedings

In the interests of concision and lower costs for the Council, the Presidency must endeavour to avoid proceedings continuing beyond 21.00.

As regards conduct of business, the Presidency proceeds in turn to:

  • take note of `Other business' items and any requests for changes to the agenda;
  • adopt the agenda;
  • adopt the A' items, taking account of any statements (1) or reservations. These A' items are normally adopted en masse. If an item is the subject of a statement by one or more members of the Council which is likely to give rise to a discussion or a request for withdrawal, it can either be withdrawn from the agenda or left on the agenda on the basis of a simple majority vote (see above);

(1) Council members who make a statement may request that it appear in the Council minutes. See Chapter III, Section 4(g), `Publication of votes

4 e) Voting procedure

As regards voting procedure, Article 11 CRP provides that:

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