Thursday

30th Mar 2017

Brussels to keep national parliaments on short leash

The European Commission will from next week onwards start to send its proposals for EU laws directly to national parliaments for comment - but it has made clear that it will not review any of its plans if national deputies dislike them.

The commission will on Tuesday (5 September) adopt guidelines detailing the "strengthened partnership with national parliaments" announced by commission president Jose Manuel Barroso in a major policy initiative in May.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

The scheme, endorsed by EU leaders in June, means that Brussels will directly email all new proposals and consultation papers to national parliaments, "inviting" them to react at an early stage.

A commission official said the first documents will be transmitted to parliaments as early as next week, with communication commissioner Margot Wallstrom set on Wednesday to symbolically fire off the first email.

Take note, not review

The early warning initiative reflects national MPs' growing ambitions to play a stronger role in overseeing EU legislation.

At present deputies tend to raise the alarm only at a stage when the legislation is already too far down the Brussels the lawmaking machine.

The plan resembles the so-called "yellow card" procedure foreseen in the shelved EU constitution stating that the commission should review a legislative proposal, if at least one third of national parliaments believe the proposal falls outside EU competencies.

But a commission source said that with the constitution being on ice, "the question of review [of law proposals] is not on the agenda," adding that Brussels will only "take note" of national parliamentarians' wishes.

In its reply to comments from national deputies, the commission will "reiterate the goal of its proposals" but not offer "new arguments."

"We cannot do anything which would anticipate the constitution," said a commission source.

Brussels is keen to avoid criticism of "cherry-picking" from the comatose charter, the future of which is highly controversial among EU member states.

Test case on divorce law

But some national parliaments' EU affairs chiefs are set to ask for more than just consultation at a planned meeting with commissioner Wallstrom in Helsinki on 11 September.

"I'm not sure that the commission can go ahead with a proposal which is disliked by 25 national parliaments," said one national parliament source.

Member states' parliaments earlier this year decided to jointly scrutinize two of this year's commission proposals - on cross-border divorces and liberalisation of postal services - where they suspect the commission could over-regulate.

Brussels' planned divorce law, presented just before the summer break, will serve as the first test case of national parliaments' watchdog aspirations, with national parliaments' common Brussels secretariat, COSAC, setting a 27 September deadline for reactions.

It is however unclear to what extent MPs will participate in the common move, with the Swedish parliament for example focusing on elections at home.

Eurozone bank needs more scrutiny, says NGO

Transparency International says eurozone's central bank is not subject to "appropriate democratic scrutiny" and should have no say on EU bailout projects.

Analysis

From Bratislava to Rome: Little more than a show of unity

The so-called Bratislava process of reflection for the EU came to an end on Saturday, but there were few tangible results that citizens could take away from the soul-searching. Despite that, unity among the EU-27 has been maintained.

Rome summit tries to restart EU momentum

EU 27 leaders in Rome to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the signing of Treaty of Rome, in bid to counter rising challenges after Brexit. But new ideas are scarce.

Rome summit tries to restart EU momentum

EU 27 leaders in Rome to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the signing of Treaty of Rome, in bid to counter rising challenges after Brexit. But new ideas are scarce.

Opinion

Birthday wishes to the European Union

With the EU soon to celebrate its 60th birthday, there are still lingering questions about the bloc's future and whether there can be a change in fortune.

News in Brief

  1. UK publishes 'Great Repeal Bill' plan to replace EU laws
  2. Scots share May's vision for Brexit deal, survey says
  3. Coalition talks leader expects Dutch government by summer
  4. EU commission allows ex-member Hill to join law firm
  5. Reuters: Greece and lenders move closer to deal
  6. Italy: Le Pen win would mean 'permanent political risk'
  7. Danish parliament misinformed on Nord Stream 1
  8. UK delivered its Article 50 letter to the EU

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Malta EU 2017Green Light Given for New EU Regulation to Bolster External Border Checks
  2. The Idealist QuarterlyCan Progressive Stories Survive Our Post-Truth Era? After-Work Discussion on 6 April
  3. ACCAG20 Citizens Want 'Big Picture' Tax Policymaking, According to Global Survey
  4. Belgrade Security ForumCall for Papers: European Union as a Global Crisis Manager - Deadline 30 April
  5. European Gaming & Betting Association60 Years Rome Treaty – 60 Years Building an Internal Market
  6. Malta EU 2017New EU Rules to Prevent Terrorism and Give More Rights to Victims Approved
  7. European Jewish Congress"Extremists Still Have Ability and Motivation to Murder in Europe" Says EJC President
  8. European Gaming & Betting AssociationAudiovisual Media Services Directive to Exclude Minors from Gambling Ads
  9. ILGA-EuropeTime for a Reality Check on International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
  10. UNICEFHuman Cost to Refugee and Migrant Children Mounts Up One Year After EU-Turkey Deal
  11. Malta EU 2017Council Adopts New Rules to Improve Safety of Medical Devices
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Energy Research: How to Reach 100 Percent Renewable Energy

Latest News

  1. Hungary attempts to stifle Soros-founded university in Budapest
  2. European right shows divisions on EU values after Brexit
  3. Transparency is key EU tactic in Brexit talks
  4. Russia building 'arc of iron' around Europe
  5. Französische und deutsche Wahlen 'entscheidend' für Putin
  6. EU trying to salvage US deal on data privacy
  7. MEPs draw 'red lines' on Brexit deal
  8. MEPs call for reset in relations with Belarus