There's big trouble brewing between the Council and the Commission.
The European Parliament and Commission have, apparently, concluded a new "Framework Agreement" on how the two institutions should coöperate (for a press release see here). This new agreement, signed on October 20, 2010, replaces the 2006 Framework Agreement (available here (main part), here (annex 1) and here (annex 2)).
The new Framework Agreement generally updates the old one to take account of the Lisbon Treaty. In particular, it seeks to improve the accountability of the Commission by setting up a Question Hour with Commissioners, including the Vice-President for External Relations/High-Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy based on the existing Question Hour with the Commission President. It also provides that if Parliament asks the Commission President to withdraw confidence in an individual Member of the Commission, he will seriously consider whether he should request that Member to resign. The President shall either require the resignation of that Member or explain his refusal to do so before Parliament in the following part-session. The new Agreement also increases the involvement of Parliament in international negotiations and provides that the Commission will provide Parliament with immediate and full information at every stage of negotiations on international agreements and in particular those on trade matters and other negotiations involving the consent procedure. At international conferences, the Commission shall, in view of Parliament's extended powers under the Lisbon Treaty, at Parliament's request, act as facilitator in order to enable the chair of the EP delegation to be granted observer status in relevant meetings and guarantee access to EU facilities for Parliament's delegations.
Despite the European Parliament and the Commission paying lip service to transparency, open access to information and all that jazz, they don't feel that the reading public is fit to see the actual text of the new Agreement. Well, a search of their respective websites has proved vain. Fortunately, Council has published a more-or-less final version dated June 29, 2010, on its public register here.
But now the Council has registered a public protest about the new Framework Agreement and has written to the Parliament and Commission to voice its misgivings. The Council's Legal Service has published a thorough legal opinion on the matter in which it states that the text agreed by the European Parliament and Commission negotiators on June 29 2010 aims, on several points, to modify the balance between the Institutions that was established by the Treaties and according the Parliament powers which are not conferred upon it by the Treaties. The Legal Service recommends that the Council should, by statement published in the Official Journal, reserve the right to submit to the Court of Justice any act or action of the Parliament or the Commission which refers to the Agreement and would have an effect contrary to the interests of the Council and the prerogatives conferred upon it by the Treaties. The Council should in particular reject the provisions on international agreements, infringement proceedings against Member States and transmission of classified information to the European Parliament. The text of the protest and Legal Service Opinion is available here.
UPDATE: A reader kindly pointed us to the text of the new Framework agreement, available here on the European Parliament's website.
FURTHER UPDATE: The new Framework Agreement is now published in the OJ (OJ 2010 L 304, p. 47)