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Democratic Implications of the Treaty of Lisbon


The mechanism through which deals may be struck at an

early stage involves so-called

trilogue meetings

between the

Commission, the Council, and the European Parliament. Originally,

trilogue meetings were devised for the post-second reading and

pre-conciliation period. By bringing together a reduced number of

participants from the Council and the Parliament, these meetings

allowed participants an opportunity to identify potential

compromises in advance of meetings of the full conciliation

committee. Over the years, the trilogue meetings have proven

effective in reducing uncertainties and channeling conflicts

(Shackleton, 2000: 334, 336).

Such pre-arrangements, however, have been moved up ever

earlier in the process from the post-second-reading and

pre-conciliation phase of the co-decision procedures. Increasingly,

trilogues are being used in earlier stages, during the first and

second readings (Curtin, 2009). Apart from the success in bringing

about compromise between the institutions, the increasing

dependence on trilogues can be explained by the time pressures

under which the EP and the Council operate, needing to enter the

conciliation process within a maximum of eight weeks of the

Council’s second reading. With the ever expanding scope of the

co-decision legislative procedure with each treaty reform, relevant

institutions cannot afford to be engaged in constant conciliation

talks, and conciliation is increasingly seen as a measure of last

resort. As a tradeoff, a growing percentage of legislation is adopted

without meaningful, Parliament-wise dialogues in the plenary

session. The new legislative pattern fostered by the co-decision

procedure has encouraged use of the less open, less public,

decision-making style of the Council by the European Parliament.

Open deliberations have been increasingly replaced by small group

negotiations, both within and across institutions, further distancing

only on a comparison between policy formation before and after the Treaty

of Lisbon.