Wednesday

28th Sep 2022

MPs pilot new powers on EU law-making

  • The Danish parliament is among the most active on EU issues (Photo: Jonas Smith)

National parliamentarians are busy shaping up a new 'green card' system that would give them more of a say on EU law-making, amid concerns about the distance between EU policymakers and citizens.

MPs are keen to be able to suggest new EU legislation as well as propose amendments to existing laws, while some chambers want to be able to ask for laws and secondary legislation to be repealed.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

The idea was first formally floated by the House of Lords early last year but has gained momentum in recent months.

"This has gone from an aspiration to an intention," Lord Boswell from the UK's upper chamber told EUobserver.

He paints the idea as filling the gap between EU law-makers and the European Citizens Initative - a tool for petitioning the commission.

"In between you have national parliaments who are attending to the policies of their national governments where most of the money is spent. And they haven’t quite been able to articulate a collective opinion. So that’s what we’re anxious to repair", he noted.

Eva Kjer Hansen, a Danish MP, says the green card would give parliaments "a more proactive role and a part in developing Europe instead standing of in a corner shouting ‘Stop, we don’t want you to go any further’."

Work on the details of the proposal, such as how many parliaments are needed to trigger a green card and what scope it would have, are to be worked on in the second half of this year, when Luxembourg takes over the EU presidency.

But there are already plans to kick off the project by making suggestions for the EU's circular economy legislative package due out later this year.

"At some point you just have to get on with it," said Lord Boswell.

MPs gained new powers in 2009 with a yellow card system under which a third of parliaments could raise the alarm if they felt the commission was legislating in an area which was better dealt with at a more local level.

It's been used just twice, partly because there a relatively few activist chambers when it comes to EU issues and, partly, say critics, because the yellow card system only allows eight weeks to potentially complain about a proposed EU law.

However, the raft of legislation coming out of Brussels as a result of the financial crisis - often going to the heart of state-definining issues such as how the national budget should be spent - has brought the discussion back onto the agenda.

"We need to have an ability as national parliaments to get together and to be taken seriously when we are seen to have got together," says Lord Boswell.

"No matter how we turn it - members of the commission and MEPS are further away from people than national members of parliament," said Hansen.

Commission - lukewarm

The European Commission has reacted cautiously to the idea of a green card.

Vice-president Frans Timmermans in a recent letter said the commission was open to more "frequent and frank direct contacts" but did not refer to the new card system.

Hansen for her part notes that a letter sent last year by 20 parliaments asking that a working group be set up on increasing the role of MPs in EU law-making was never answered.

Lord Boswell characterises the commission's attitude as a "degree of friendly interest". For their part, serveral MEPs are concerned that national law-makers might encroach on their powers.

But things on the - national - ground appear to be moving anyway.

Danielle Auroi, a French MP, pointed out the national assembly "for the first time" debated the European Commission's work programme for this year.

All national parliaments are becoming "more curious" about the annual legislative programme, she said at a gathering, earlier this week, of MPs in Latvia.

Europe's far-right celebrates Meloni victory

In Warsaw and Budapest, the prime ministers were quick to congratulate the new Italian leader, who — they hope — will back them in their battles with the EU over civil rights, rule of law and democratic backsliding.

EU seeks crisis powers to take control over supply chains

The Single Market Emergency Instrument (SMEI) introduces a staged, step-by-step, approach — providing emergency powers to the EU Commission to tackle any potential threat which could trigger disruptions or shortages of key products within the EU.

Testimony from son rocks trial of ex-Czech PM Babiš

In a fraud trial relating to €2m in EU subsidies, Andrej Babiš son testified his signature on share-transfer agreements was forged. He claims his father transferred the shares to him without his knowledge, making him a front man for scheme.

Column

EU should admonish less, and listen more, to the Global South

Whether on Russia, or gas, or climate change, or food security, the EU's constant finger-wagging and moralising is becoming unbearably repetitive and self-defeating. Most countries in the Global South view it as eurocentric and neo-colonial.

Podcast

How Europe helped normalise Georgia Meloni

Should Georgia Meloni be considered neofascist? She insists she's a patriotic conservative. And indeed, if she's prime minister, she's expected to respect Italy's democracy — if only to keep money flowing from the EU.

News in Brief

  1. EU to ban Russian products worth €7bn a year more
  2. Denmark: CIA did not warn of Nord Stream attack
  3. Drone sightings in the North Sea 'occurred over months'
  4. Gazprom threatens to cut gas deliveries to Europe via Ukraine
  5. New compromise over EU energy emergency measures
  6. 15 states push for EU-wide gas price cap
  7. EU: Nord Stream explosions 'result of a deliberate act'
  8. EU okays €21bn Covid-recovery funding for Italy amid concern

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. The European Association for Storage of EnergyRegister for the Energy Storage Global Conference, held in Brussels on 11-13 Oct.
  2. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBA lot more needs to be done to better protect construction workers from asbestos
  3. European Committee of the RegionsThe 20th edition of EURegionsWeek is ready to take off. Save your spot in Brussels.
  4. UNESDA - Soft Drinks EuropeCall for EU action – SMEs in the beverage industry call for fairer access to recycled material
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic prime ministers: “We will deepen co-operation on defence”
  6. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBConstruction workers can check wages and working conditions in 36 countries

Latest News

  1. Netherlands tops EU social safety net for the poor
  2. New EU rules to make companies liable for their AI failures
  3. Can King Charles III reset the broken Brexit relationship?
  4. Meloni's navy-blockade plan to stop Libya migrants 'unlikely'
  5. Underwater explosions were detected near Nord Stream leaks
  6. EU countries stall new pesticide rules, blame Ukraine war
  7. The UN's Uyghur report must push EU into China sanctions
  8. Russian diamonds ban 'would cost 10,000 jobs', Antwerp claims

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us