National MPs demand more say in EU law-making
By Benjamin Fox
National MPs want more powers in EU law-making, according to a letter backed by most of the EU’s national parliaments.
The letter, a copy of which was obtained by EUobserver, warns that “there are signs that [the EU’s] democratic legitimacy is fading,” adding that “Europe needs a new relationship of co-operation between the Union and its member states” involving a beefed up role for national parliaments.
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It calls on the next president of the EU executive, likely to be Jean-Claude Juncker, to immediately set up a working-group tasked with drawing up a plan to increase the role of national law-makers in EU decision-making.
Under the current system, legislative proposals can be sent back to the European Commission to be re-considered if one third of national parliaments agree, but the parliaments have no power to block proposals.
“Their [national parliaments] role must go beyond monitoring the principle of subsidiarity and scrutinising national government,” the letter states.
The letter is signed by leading members of 20 of the bloc’s 28 national parliaments.
Speaking to EUobserver, Eva Kjer Hansen, who chairs the Danish parliament’s EU affairs committee, said that the initiative had received broad support across EU capitals.
“National parliaments must play a more active role in European decision-making,” said Hansen, adding that this should involve “having a say at an early stage”.
“With the integration of the eurozone we are getting closer in terms of budgetary and fiscal policies ... and we are getting to the core of national parliaments’ work,” she added.
There are also signs that citizens are keen for national law-makers to have more say in EU policy-making. A majority of Britons and Germans agree that either each country’s national parliament or a group of national parliaments should be able to block proposed new EU laws.
“This is a great initiative ... and a sign that an increasing number of politicians realise that the chief way to re-connect the EU with its citizens is to substantially strengthen the role of democratically elected national MPs,” Mats Persson, director of the Open Europe think tank, told this website.
“It is essential to translate this into concrete measures, such as ‘red’ and ‘green’ cards, that allow national parliaments to actively engage in the EU policy-making process,” he added.
The paper on the EU’s ‘strategic agenda’ until 2020 by European Council president Herman van Rompuy which is due to be discussed by EU leaders on Friday, also refers to the need to beef up the role of national lawmakers in EU legislation.
“A greater place should be given to national parliaments, including by strengthening their means of participating in the debate and making their voice heard in the decision-making process,” it says.