23 January 2018
A. National Parliaments and the E.U.

Since the beginning of the European integration project, the Member States recognised the need to lay down common principles on information for and contributions from the national parliaments. Today, national Parliaments not only ratify EU legislative acts or occasionally control their governments while shaping European policies; national parliaments’ demand for their timely and substantial briefing on decisions made in Councils of Ministers has taken on new dimensions in the expanding European actuality, thus enabling them to formulate views and express opinions, in a timely and concrete way on the overall EU action.

The role of national parliaments in the European Union has been substantially reinforced during the last two decades, both through discussions on dealing with the democratic deficit and through EU Treaties’ elaboration process.

Since 1989 members of the national parliaments and the European Parliament have been meeting at six-monthly intervals within the Conference of European Affairs Committees (COSAC), primarily for the purpose of exchanging information.

The Treaty of Lisbon constitutes a fundamental stage for the role of national parliaments in the European integration in that, for the first time, a whole Article is devoted to them. Article 12 of the Treaty on European Union brings together the provisions relating to national parliaments, which were dispersed across the Treaties:

“National Parliaments contribute actively to the good functioning of the Union:


(a) through being informed by the institutions of the Union and having draft legislative acts of the Union forwarded to them in accordance with the Protocol on the role of national Parliaments in the European Union;


(b) by seeing to it that the principle of subsidiarity is respected in accordance with the procedures provided for in the Protocol on the application of the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality;


(c) by taking part, within the framework of the area of freedom, security and justice, in the evaluation mechanisms for the implementation of the Union policies in that area, in accordance with Article 70 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, and through being involved in the political monitoring of Europol and the evaluation of Eurojust's activities in accordance with Articles 88 and 85 of that Treaty;


(d) by taking part in the revision procedures of the Treaties, in accordance with Article 48 of this Treaty;


(e) by being notified of applications for accession to the Union, in accordance with Article 49 of this Treaty;


(f) by taking part in the inter-parliamentary cooperation between national Parliaments and with the European Parliament, in accordance with the Protocol on the role of national Parliaments in the European Union.”

Following the Lisbon Treaty, national parliaments play a major role in revision procedures of the Treaties and have obtained better methods to defend  the principle of subsidiarity, by checking whether the Commission’s legislative proposals are in line with this principle. This principle means that the EU must not undertake or regulate what can be managed or regulated more efficiently at national or regional levels, in a spirit of cooperation between the various levels of power (see also here)

1. EU Treaties’ Revision and Ratification

2. Control and briefing of the Parliament regarding community legislation and the application of the principle of subsidiarit

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European Parliament: Maintaining close links with the Member States’ national parliaments

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