The House of Lords EU Committee has today called for a greater role for national parliaments in EU decision-making, including the introduction of a ‘Green Card’ procedure to enable a group of national parliaments to work together to propose new EU legislation or amend existing European law. The report also says that national parliaments, working together, should have the right to require proposed EU legislation to be withdrawn or substantially amended.
Greater cooperation between national parliaments and early engagement by national parliaments with the European Commission form key themes in the report. The Committee say that national parliaments should work together to engage with the Commission early in the development of legislative proposals, and that the Commission should respond positively and promptly to that engagement.
The report also calls for a strengthening of the existing ‘Yellow Card’ process which enables national parliaments to ask the European Commission to think again. The Committee say that when a Yellow Card is issued the Commission should be required to withdraw or substantially amend its proposal. They also propose expanding the scope of Yellow Cards to include proportionality concerns over measures that go beyond what is necessary to achieve EU treaty objectives.
The Committee conclude that these improvements can be made through agreements involving national parliaments, national governments and the EU institutions, without the need for Treaty change.
- Given that the response to the European financial crisis is likely to involve closer eurozone integration and control of domestic economic policy of eurozone member states by central EU institutions it is vital national parliaments are given greater control of those developments to avoid ever greater democratic deficit;
- European institutions should begin to tackle this immediately by giving national parliaments a greater role in scrutinising proposals for ‘Genuine Economic and Monetary Union’ (GEMU);
- Effective scrutiny of the EU by national parliaments is vital to ensuring there is legitimacy and accountability for actions of the EU. Each national parliament will have their own way of working but it is important that even in the current challenging economic conditions that the Committees undertaking that scrutiny are adequately resourced;
- National parliaments should work more closely with the European Parliament including closer working between national parliamentary committees and European Parliament committees where appropriate;
- COSAC, the body which brings together EU committees of national parliaments, can play a valuable role in sharing expertise. It would benefit from clearly focused agendas and discussions at its meetings.