2nd Apr 2020

National parliaments get say on EU laws

National parliaments are to start getting an unprecedented say on emerging EU laws, with one seasoned observer noting that it could be "revolutionary".

EU leaders on Friday (15 June) passed a text requesting the commission "to duly consider comments by national parliaments" on proposed EU laws.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

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

... or join as a group

In the future the commission will "make all new proposals and consultation papers directly available to national parliaments, inviting them to react so as to improve the process of policy formation", say the conclusions of the two-day summit on Brussels.

The initiative came from the commission itself with president Jose Manuel Barroso making the proposal in May as part of Brussels' attempt to carry out reform that citizens can directly relate to.

It resembles the so-called "yellow card" procedure foreseen in the 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.

Will parliaments use their new power?

Commenting on the agreement, Austrian chancellor Wolfgang Schussel said "national parliaments are going to have a far greater role to play"

Veteran Danish politician Jens-Peter Bonde said it could "revolutionise" EU law-making but added that this would depend on whether national parliaments make proper use of the facility.

Mr Bonde has long campaigned for national parliaments to have more say, arguing that they are best placed to keep a check on what is emerging from Brussels.

The text also urges the European Parliament and the European Commission "to consistently check the correct application" of two fundamental principles – subsidiarity – whereby the EU only takes action when it can achieve better results than member states acting alone – and proportionality – that EU laws should be kept to a minimum.

For their part national parliaments have also been asked to cooperate when monitoring EU law.

The Danish parliament, which already has a strong say over EU legislation, is set to galvanise its 24 national counterparts towards the end of the month with a special meeting on the issue.


The proposal is not without its critics, however. The draft conclusions of the summit were watered down from saying the commission should "take into account" any comments by national parliaments to "duly consider".

This reflected worries by Belgium, in particular, that the commission's right to initiate laws - a right enshrined in the EU treaties - would be undermined.

Some members of the European Parliament are also likely to be unhappy with the proposal.

When Mr Barroso floated the idea last month, Austrian green MEP Johannes Voggenhuber said "these are intentional, systematic efforts by national governments to strengthen intergovernmental Europe".

Already doubts over Belgium's new 'anti-corona government'

Belgium's King Philippe has given interim prime minister Sophie Wilmès the task of forming a government, after seven opposition parties agreed to support it. The agreement came after a political drama - and there are doubts if it will hold.


What does Erdoğan want?

By opening Turkey's border, Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan wants to push Europe into supporting him in Ankara's negotiations with Russia's Vladimir Putin for a deal on Syria's Idlib.

'Fragmented' Slovakia votes amid corruption woes

Saturday's elections in Slovakia could herald the rise of the far-right People's Party Our Slovakia, or the emergence of a populist anti-corruption candidate, in a country wracked by mistrust since the assassination two years ago of an investigative journalist.

German ex-commissioner Oettinger lands Orban job

Hungary's PM Viktor Orban appointed controversial former commissioner Guenther Oettinger to a government council in a way that might break EU rules. Oettinger claims he did not know about the appointment.

Five new post-Brexit MEPs to watch

Five MEPs to keep an eye on from the 27 new members who are joining the European Parliament this week, following the UK's departure from the EU.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAMaking Europe’s Economy Circular – the time is now
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersScottish parliament seeks closer collaboration with the Nordic Council
  3. UNESDAFrom Linear to Circular – check out UNESDA's new blog
  4. Nordic Council of Ministers40 years of experience have proven its point: Sustainable financing actually works
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Baltic ministers paving the way for 5G in the region
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms

Latest News

  1. Court: Three countries broke EU law on migrant relocation
  2. Journalism hit hard by corona crisis
  3. EU fighting shortages and faulty medical supplies
  4. New EU navy operation to keep migrant details secret
  5. MEP: Constituents are our window into this tragedy
  6. Without European patriotism, EU decline is inevitable
  7. EU cancels April Fool's 'fake news'
  8. A coronavirus 'Marshall Plan' alone won't be nearly enough

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us