Wednesday

20th Feb 2019

'Yellow cards' from national EU parliaments not very effective

  • Westminster, UK: National parliaments worry more about finished law proposals than about drafts. (Photo: UK Parliament)

New tools national parliaments received five years ago this month to influence EU lawmaking are not very effective, a research requested by the Dutch national assembly found.

The report - "Engaging with Europe" - by Radboud University in Nijmegen was presented in The Hague on Wednesday (3 December).

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

Since the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon on 1 December 2009, national parliaments in EU member states have the right to raise a “yellow card" if they think that a proposed law should actually be dealt with on at the national level.

After the European Commission has published a legislative proposal, parliaments may send a so-called reasoned opinion. If at least a third of the parliaments have a negative opinion about the proposal, the commission should reconsider it.

However, according to the researchers, national parliaments think Brussels does not reply quickly enough. And when they get the reply, it often “simply comes down to repeating the argumentation from the original draft legislative act”.

Another problem is that there is no objective way to define if a rule falls under the principle of "subsidiarity".

Subsidiarity is, in the words of the EU, “the principle whereby the Union does not take action ... unless it is more effective than action taken at national, regional or local level".

The researchers however found that national parliaments “give the principle their own interpretation, and also put forward several, and often contradictory, political arguments”.

“As such, it is not only unnecessary, but also impossible for the commission to satisfy the demands of all national parliaments.”

The researchers suggest that a clarification of the principle of subsidiarity could be sought by making a case with the European Court of Justice.

The report also notes that national parliaments are mostly concerned with laws that have already been fully proposed.

In 2013, just 28 of the 621 contributions that the commission received from national parliaments, were about so-called Green and White Papers or public consultations.

“The Commission advises parliaments to provide input at an early stage, because changes can be more easily implemented when the legislation is still in the preparatory phase”, the report writes, adding that only “the Swedish parliament is involved in the early phase of law-making on a structural basis”.

The authors of the report expect that the new commission and European Parliament "will listen more carefully to the standpoints of the national parliaments".

"The limited influence of reasoned opinions so far may be discouraging, yet if national parliaments really want to have their voice heard in Brussels, they have to persist."

Investigation

MEPs shun commission-led group on future of EU

The European Parliament have decided, on principle, to refuse to take part in any high-level working group organised by the Commission, because it would undermine its ability to scrutinise the executive body.

EU Parliament demands Saudi lobby transparency

A resolution demanding Saudi Arabia release prisoners and stop gender-based violence was passed by over 500 MEPs on Thursday in Strasbourg. They also demanded greater transparency over Brussels-based lobbying for the Saudis, following an EUobserver exclusive.

News in Brief

  1. British PM to batter against EU wall on Brexit
  2. Hungary and Slovakia break EU line on Jerusalem
  3. Germany and France to overhaul EU competition law
  4. Estonia kicks out Danske Bank over money laundering scandal
  5. May and Juncker meet over Brexit on Wednesday
  6. EU promises to open up advisory groups
  7. EU agrees to limit CO2 emissions by trucks
  8. Juncker under attack in Hungary government ad

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  2. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  3. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  4. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law
  5. UNESDASoft Drinks Europe welcomes Tim Brett as its new president
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers take the lead in combatting climate change
  7. Counter BalanceEuropean Parliament takes incoherent steps on climate in future EU investments
  8. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups

Latest News

  1. 'No evidence' ECB bond-buying helped euro economy
  2. Juncker: Orban should leave Europe's centre-right
  3. College of Europe alumni ask rector to cut Saudi ties
  4. EU says Hungary's anti-Juncker campaign is fake news
  5. Trump right for once: Europe should take back foreign fighters
  6. EU should clarify rules for plant burgers and lab meat
  7. Italian populists could be second biggest force in EU parliament
  8. Merkel defends Russia ties, ridicules Trump on cars

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us