The Treaty on European Union states that national parliaments “contribute actively to the good functioning of the Union”. The purpose of the Committee’s inquiry was to explore ways in which national parliaments could play a full and active role, individually and collectively, in enhancing the accountability and legitimacy of the Union.
In particular, the Committee focused on five areas:
- Promoting effective scrutiny by national parliaments of their own governments
- Encouraging better dialogue between national parliaments and the European Commission, so as to assist early engagement with policy proposals
- Improvements to the “reasoned opinion” procedure, whereby national parliaments scrutinise EU proposals for compliance with the principle of subsidiarity
- Better inter-parliamentary co-operation and exchange of information
Economic and financial governance, to ensure democratic oversight of EU economic policy
Following publication of the report, the Chairman of the EU Committee, Lord Boswell, joined the Chairs of 28 other national parliamentary committees in sending a letter to the President-Elect of the European Commission, Mr Jean-Claude Juncker, proposing the establishment of a working group to examine further the role of national parliaments in the EU. A response to this letter is still awaited.
On 19 January, Lord Boswell will meet other parliamentarians at an informal meeting in Brussels to discuss concrete next steps for improving the role of national parliaments in the EU, including improvements to the “reasoned opinion” procedure and a possible new mechanism for national parliaments collectively to suggest an EU initiative for the European Commission to take forward.