Institutional balance and democratic legitimacy
Originally, the Council alone could adopt legislation and the European Parliament only had advisory power. The Treaty of Maastricht bolstered democratic legitimacy within the institutional system by giving the European Parliament greater powers over the appointment and supervision of the Commission.
As part of the reform of the institutions, the Treaty of Amsterdam seeks to strike a balance between the institutions so as to bring about a more democratic distribution of powers and involve Europe's citizens and national parliaments more closely in the decision-making process.
The changes made by the Treaty of Amsterdam include, inter alia:
· establishing the codecision procedure (whereby the European Parliament legislates jointly with the Council) as general practice, while extending the European Parliament's powers in relation to lawmaking;
· enhancing the legitimacy of the Commission vis-à-vis the European Parliament and the Member States by overhauling the system for the appointment of the Commission and boosting the role of its President.
Intergovernmental Conference (IGC)
Confirmation of the Commission
Council of the European Union
This is the term used to describe negotiations between the Member States with a view to amending or supplementing the Treaties. An IGC is of major importance as regards European integration, where changes in the institutional and legal structure, conferral of further powers and the framing of new treaties have always been the outcome of intergovernmental conferences (e.g. Single European Act and Treaty on European Union).