Procedure : 2016/2149(INI)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected : A8-0127/2018

Texts tabled :

A8-0127/2018

Debates :

PV 18/04/2018 - 23
CRE 18/04/2018 - 23

Votes :

PV 19/04/2018 - 10.15
Explanations of votes

Texts adopted :

P8_TA(2018)0186

REPORT     
PDF 396kWORD 71k
28.3.2018
PE 612.115v03-00 A8-0127/2018

on the implementation of the Treaty provisions concerning national parliaments

(2016/2149(INI))

Committee on Constitutional Affairs

Rapporteur: Paulo Rangel

PR_INI_ImplReport

AMENDMENTS
EXPLANATORY STATEMENT - SUMMARY OF FACTS AND FINDINGS
 MOTION FOR A EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT RESOLUTION
 INFORMATION ON ADOPTION IN COMMITTEE RESPONSIBLE
 FINAL VOTE BY ROLL CALL IN COMMITTEE RESPONSIBLE

EXPLANATORY STATEMENT - SUMMARY OF FACTS AND FINDINGS

Introduction

Eight years after the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon, the Committee on Constitutional Affairs (AFCO) considered necessary to draw up an own-initiative implementation report (INI) assessing “The implementation of the Treaty provisions concerning national parliaments”.

The goal of the report is to assess the use of current mechanisms for national parliaments’ participation in the European political process. Based on that assessment, the report then looks into possible improvements to those mechanisms, in order to bring national parliaments closer to the overall integration process. The report should also assess the political structured debate established between the European Commission and national parliaments.

Fact-finding activities

The scrutiny tools and findings on the state of implementation carried out were the following:

- a Workshop with experts from the academic world on 20 March 2017, organised by the Policy Department C of DG IPOL, where a Study(1) and two Briefings(2) were presented and debated;

- an Interparliamentary Committee Meeting (ICM) held in 2 May 2017, where three experts presented studies on the subject matter of the report, allowing members of national parliaments to express their views as well as to engage in a dialogue with Members of the European Parliament(3);

- written contributions from several national parliaments;

- fact-finding missions to the Assembleia da República on 21 February 2017, to the Danish Folketing on 22 and 23 May 2017 and to the Hellenic Parliament on 24 May 2017;

- an European Implementation Assessment(4) and a Survey(5) from the Ex-Post Evaluation Unit of DG EPRS, presented and discussed on 12 October 2017;

- a legal opinion from the European Parliaments legal services, on 27 October 2017.

I.  The primary function of national parliaments: scrutinizing European politics by mandating their own governments, represented in the Council and in the European Council

The Treaty of Lisbon became known as the Treaty of the Parliaments, precisely because it has considerably increased the powers of the European Parliament, while recognising national parliaments their own constitutional role within the European framework. These came to have an essential role in securing the democratic legitimacy of the Union, in promoting its pluralism and diversity and in granting its constitutional functioning.

As reflected in earlier reports and in art. 10(2) TFUE, it is evident that the core function of national parliaments remains the democratic scrutiny and monitoring of governmental activity in the Council and in the European Council. By supervising their governments’ actions at national level, and the better and more effectively they do so, the greater will be their role in influencing EU’s political and constitutional life. To this extent, it is of paramount importance that national parliaments come to compare best practices within the framework of COSAC and even spontaneously amongst themselves. It is equally crucial to improve and mobilise all means available to IPEX in order to increase the range, the speed and the efficiency of all existing information on European matters.

Given the recurrent complaint that national parliaments have been losing some of their power in budgetary matters due to the so-called “European semester”, it might, perhaps, in full respect of the prerogative of self-organisation of each parliamentary chamber, be beneficial to envision the future adaptation of their relevant “rules of procedure”. In fact, the establishment of a term (national trimester) which brings budget talks between governments and Commission forward and, the establishment of a follow-up parliamentary mechanism that allows for subsequent monitoring of the relation between Commission and Council, would grant a substantial increase to national parliaments’ capacity of scrutiny in a matter that has historically been theirs.

II.  The specific constitutional contribution of national parliaments to the European level: the creation of an European political sphere

Furthermore, and by virtue of the wording and the spirit of the Treaty of Lisbon, national parliaments have increasingly been called on to act directly at European level, be it in interaction with the European Parliament, or in interaction with the European Commission. Except for matters related with the control of subsidiarity and information rights, national parliament’s involvement in European affairs is nonetheless perceived as remaining limited.

If the Treaty of Lisbon calls on a more intimate relation between national parliaments and the European institutions, it is naturally because it expects their specific contribution further from that which its executives convey through their voice and vote in the Council and in the European Council. There is a true constitutional differentia specifica between the participation of national parliaments in the European life and the participation of national governments in the aforementioned Council and European Council. While governments represent a single political stance, reflected in the indivisibility of their vote, the national parliaments are precisely the expression of the plurality and internal diversity (without prejudice to the strict compliance with the will of the majority expressed within). The specific contribution that the national parliaments can bring to the European level is precisely this diversity of national visions (proportionately represented). However, little has been done to draw attention and give precedence to the irreplaceable constitutional function of national parliaments within the European life. The latter strongly contributes to the establishment of a true European political space and a true authentic public sphere. In fact, minority positions in a national parliament might match a majority position in another, and the interaction between them reflects the emergence of an European political arena. Amongst others, the report aims to bridge this gap. Firstly, strongly encouraging the representation of internal plurality by the delegations of national parliaments, in all of its joint events, and in accordance with the political groupings’ proportions. Secondly, allowing minority groupings that stand for a minority position to add their dissenting opinions to the reasoned opinions, without undermining the commitment of the adopted opinions to the will of the majority.

III.  Aiming at a full interinstitutional cooperation: developing the European political sphere

The creation of the European political arena is obviously strengthened by the reinforcement of all kinds of initiatives already in place. In fact, the ongoing cooperation between the EU institutions and national parliaments has improved considerably in the past decade. Firstly, the Barroso initiative, documented in annual reports on their relations, has undoubtedly fostered political dialogue between national parliaments and the Commission.

Secondly, any ‘constitutional jealousy’ that may have existed between the European Parliament and national parliaments has faded post-Lisbon (see articles 9 and 10 of Protocol No. 1 TFEU, on determining the organisation and promotion of effective and regular Interparliamentary cooperation within the Union).

While this cooperation is closely linked to the dialogue between national legislative branches themselves, there is still room for improvement(6). First and foremost, efforts should be made to simplify the current framework of relations between the EU and national parliaments, including the Conference of Speakers of EU Parliaments, the COSAC, the Interparliamentary Conference on Stability, Economic Coordination and Governance in the EU, the Joint Parliamentary Scrutiny Group on Europol, the interparliamentary committee meetings and the joint parliamentary meetings, just to name a few. The development of a committee-based approach would be extremely beneficial in this regard(7).

The same applies to the implementation of the Treaty provisions concerning the role of national parliaments in the areas of freedom, security and justice (see articles 70, 88 and 85 TFEU). At a time when these matters are all the more complex, the EU should call on all national parliaments, one of its major sources of democratic legitimacy, in order to ensure an active role in the monitoring of a future European Defence Union. Thus, the participation and active involvement of national parliaments seems to be crucial and truly indispensable.

To the same end, we shall call for the establishment of an “European week”, which may take place simultaneously in the 27 national parliaments and which should be attended by Commissioners and Members of the European Parliament, debating European affairs with national parliamentarians. Such initiative would, moreover, be an optimal way to carry out the much-discussed idea of organizing national “democratic conventions” on the future of Europe. The “European week” would entail, once more without jeopardizing each parliament’s sovereign prerogative, a reform of the “rules of procedure” of national parliaments and of the European Parliament.

IV.  The role of national parliaments with respect to the control of subsidiarity

Aware that this is one of its most important constitutional powers, national parliaments are unanimous in their evaluation of certain throttling in the functioning of the EWS, which may trigger the yellow card or the orange card procedures. The first obstacle is the limited eight-week standstill period, which can only be altered with a Treaty reform and which should be increased once said reform occurs. There is, however, a technical question - with legal implications within the scope of the separation of powers - which might ease the burden of this obstacle. Indeed, the starting day to count the eight-week standstill period should not be left to the discretion of the Commission. Thus, as is the case with many national proceedings, a technical extension should be considered, in such a manner that the commencement of the eight-week period is not at the sole disposal of the Commission.

The second obstacle, yet just as importantly, relates to a narrow understanding of the principle of subsidiarity as provided for in article 5 TEU, which excludes the principle of conferral and the principle of proportionality. This is the argument with which the Commission more often refuses national parliaments the exercise of this power of control. Yet, legal doctrine has long drawn a distinction between subsidiarity stricto sensu and lato sensu, the latter comprising the three dimensions enunciated. Prior experience shows that it is extremely difficult to understand the precise boundary between the political dimension of subsidiarity and the legal dimension of proportionality. It being a fine line between politics and law, the Commission should exercise self-restraint, when referring to EWS, in the adoption of an overtly restrictive vision of the subsidiarity principle.

In this regard, and after the concession made in the framework of the British referendum process, there are no appeals from national parliaments for a future red card. Conversely, there is a strong movement, also documented in the EP’s reports, for the creation of a green card, which awards national parliaments a sort of instrument within the field of legislative initiative. Such an innovation would necessarily have three limits: it cannot be a true legislative initiative, as this is a right exclusively reserved to the Commission (neither Parliament nor Council may initiate legislation); it cannot be used in relation to the repeal of existing EU law as it would otherwise act as a reverse red card and, finally, it should not incorporate any right to amendment European legislation (that would usurp powers assigned to the EP and Council by the Treaties). The idea is, therefore, most commendable, as it reflects the right understanding of subsidiarity, to the extent that it means that national parliaments recognize that some matters are of exclusive competence of the Union. At full deployment, it will be a right of proposal or suggestion that, similar to parallel mechanisms, could originate the obligation for a reasoned reply from the Commission in the event of refusal.

(1)

“The Role of National parliaments in the EU after Lisbon: Potentialities and Challenges”, by Prof. Dr. Olivier Rozenberg.

(2)

“Subsidiarity as a Means to Enhance Cooperation between EU Institutions and National parliaments”, by Prof. Dr. Diane Fromage, and “The Legisprudential Role of National parliaments in the European Union”, by Prof. Dr. Luís Heleno Terrinha.

(3)

“The interparliamentary cooperation at EU level”, by Carlo Casini, “Subsidiarity and National parliaments”, by Ludwik Dorn, and “Political structured dialogue and National parliaments”, by Prof. Dr. Ingolf Pernice.

(4)

European Implementation Assessment “Working with national parliaments on EU affairs”, by Dr. Milan Remac, European Parliament 2017 (PE 603.271).

(5)

Implementation in action briefing on the “Survey of permanent representatives of national parliaments in the European Parliament” (PE 610.992).

(6)

See Prof. Dr Olivier Rozenberg’s study “The Role of National parliaments in the EU after Lisbon: Potentialities and Challenges”.

(7)

See: Final report of the Fact finding Missions, 17 July 2017, PE608.137v01-00.


MOTION FOR A EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT RESOLUTION

on the implementation of the Treaty provisions concerning national parliaments

(2016/2149(INI))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Treaty on European Union (TEU), in particular Article 5 on the conferral of competences and subsidiarity, Article 10(1) on representative democracy, Article 10(2) on the representation of EU citizens, Article 10(3) on the right of EU citizens to participate in the democratic life of the Union, Article 11 on participatory democracy, Article 12 on the role of national parliaments, Article 48(3) on the ordinary revision procedure, and Article 48(7) (passerelle clause) thereof,

–   having regard to Protocol No 1 on the role of national parliaments in the European Union annexed to the Treaty of Amsterdam and to Protocol No 2 on the application of the principles of subsidiary and proportionality annexed to the Treaty of Lisbon,

–  having regard to Article 15 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) and Articles 41 and 42 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union,

–  having regard to its resolutions of 12 June 1997 on relations between the European Parliament and the national parliaments(1), of 7 February 2002 on relations between the European Parliament and the national parliaments in European integration(2), of 7 May 2009 on the development of the relations between the European Parliament and national parliaments under the Treaty of Lisbon(3) and of 16 April 2014 on relations between the European Parliament and the national parliaments(4),

–  having regard to its resolutions of 16 February 2017 on Improving the functioning of the European Union building on the potential of the Lisbon Treaty(5), on Budgetary capacity for the euro area(6) and on Possible evolutions of and adjustments to the current institutional set-up of the European Union(7),

–  having regard to the Commission’s annual reports on relations between the European Commission and national parliaments, in particular the report for 2014 of 2 July 2015 (COM(2015)0316), and for 2015 of 15 July 2016 (COM(2016)0471), and to its annual reports on subsidiarity and proportionality, in particular the reports for 2015 of 15 July 2016 (COM(2016)0469), and for 2016 of 30 June 2017 (COM(2017)0600),

–  having regard to the annual reports of the European Parliament’s Directorate for Relations with National Parliaments, in particular the 2016 Mid-term Report on Relations between the European Parliament and national parliaments,

–  having regard to its resolution of 26 October 2017 on monitoring the application of EU law 2015(8),

–  having regard to the Commission White Paper on the Future of Europe of 1 March 2017, and to the State of the Union address by the President of the Commission Jean-Claude Juncker of 13 September 2017, in which a roadmap was presented,

–  having regard to the Declaration entitled ‘Greater European Integration: The Way Forward’ by the Presidents of the Camera dei Deputati of Italy, the Assemblée Nationale of France, the Bundestag of Germany and the Chambre des Députés of Luxembourg, signed on 14 September 2015 and currently endorsed by 15 national parliamentary chambers in the EU,

–  having regard to the conclusions adopted by the Conference of Speakers of EU Parliaments (the EU Speakers’ Conference) at its meetings since the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon, in particular those held in Luxembourg in 2016 and Bratislava in 2017,

–  having regard to the contributions to and conclusions of the meetings of the Conference of Parliamentary Committees for Union Affairs of Parliaments of the European Union (COSAC) since the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty, in particular the meetings held in Valletta and Tallinn in 2017, and to COSAC’s biannual reports,

–  having regard to Article 13 of the Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance in the Economic and Monetary Union (TSCG), which enshrined the organisation of inter-parliamentary conferences for the purposes of discussing budgetary policies and other issues covered by the treaty;

­–   having regard to the resolution of the Senát of the Czech Republic of 30 November 2016 (26th resolution of the 11th term), to the resolution of the Senato della Republica of Italy of 19 October 2016 (Doc. XVIII n. 164) and to the contributions of its European Union Policies Committee of 2 May 2017 (Prot. 573), and to the contributions of the EU Affairs Committee of the Assemblée Nationale of France of 31 May 2017 (reference 2017/058) and the Standing Committee on European Affairs of the Tweede Kamer der Staten-Generaal (House of Representatives) of the Netherlands of 22 December 2017 (letter A(2018)1067);

–  having regard to Rule 52 of its Rules of Procedure, as well as Article 1(1)(e) of, and Annex 3 to, the decision of the Conference of Presidents of 12 December 2002 on the procedure for granting authorisation to draw up own-initiative reports,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Constitutional Affairs (A8-0127/2018),

A.  whereas national parliaments improve and contribute actively to the good constitutional functioning of the European Union (Article 12 TEU), thereby playing an important role in its democratic legitimacy and realising it to the fullest extent;

B.  whereas the parliamentary accountability of national governments within the framework of European affairs, which depends on individual national practices, is the cornerstone of the role of national parliaments in the current European Treaty;

C.  whereas, in order to improve ownership, national parliaments should scrutinise national governments, in the same way as the European Parliament scrutinises the European executive; whereas, however, the level of influence of national parliaments over national governments varies significantly at Member State level;

D.  whereas national parliaments often lament their limited involvement in Union affairs and wish to be more associated with the development of the European integration process;

E.  whereas a lack of transparency in the EU legislative and decision-making processes risks undermining both the prerogatives of national parliaments under the Treaties and relevant Protocols, and, in particular, their role as the watchdogs of their governments;

F.  whereas the pluralism of national parliaments is remarkably beneficial to the Union, as the alignment of different political stances across the Member States can strengthen and broaden cross-sectional debates at European level;

G.  whereas the underrepresentation of parliamentary minorities in European affairs should be counterbalanced while fully respecting the majorities in each national parliament, and in accordance with the principle of proportional representation;

H.   whereas national parliaments play a role in any revision of the European Treaties and have recently been called upon to engage in a series of EU democratic forums;

I.  whereas a European public sphere could be fostered by a series of forums on the future of Europe, to be organised by national parliaments and the European Parliament as natural representatives of the European demos; whereas such forums could be endorsed through a common European Week, in which members of national parliamentary chambers would simultaneously discuss European affairs with Commissioners and Members of the European Parliament;

J.  whereas as shown by recent electoral trends, the economic, financial and social crisis has increased EU citizens’ distrust of and disillusionment with the current democratic model of representation, both at European and national levels;

K.  whereas the implementation of the right for national parliaments to scrutinise compliance with the principle of subsidiarity, on the basis of the so-called early warning system (EWS), has partially improved relations between the EU institutions and national parliaments;

L.  whereas national parliaments are sometimes critical of the EWS, claiming that its provisions are not easy to put into practice and lack a broad scope of application;

M.  whereas progress in the implementation of the EWS has been achieved, as demonstrated by the latest figures on the total number of opinions submitted by national parliaments within the framework of the political dialogue; whereas the limited usage of the yellow card procedure and the ineffectiveness of the orange card procedure show that there is still room for improvement and that better coordination between national parliaments is possible in this respect;

N.  whereas the eight-week period laid down in Article 4 of Protocol No 1 has proven to be inadequate for timely monitoring of compliance with the principle of subsidiarity;

O.  whereas the EWS can be complemented by the system that currently allows national parliaments to submit constructive proposals for the Commission’s consideration and with due regard for its right of initiative;

P.  whereas several national parliaments have expressed their interest in an instrument to improve political dialogue, which would afford them the opportunity to suggest constructive proposals for the Commission’s consideration and with due regard for the Commission’s right of initiative, having first secured Parliament’s support;

Q.  whereas national parliaments can, at any time, issue opinions within the framework of the political dialogue, mandate their governments to demand the formulation of legislative proposals via the Council, or, in accordance with Article 225 TFEU, simply call on Parliament to present proposals to the Commission;

R.  whereas the implementation of a red card procedure is not conceivable at this stage of the European integration process;

S.  whereas the comprehensive range of information rights provided for in the Treaty of Lisbon could be enhanced if national parliaments were given more resources and time to cope with the documents forwarded to them by the European Institutions;

T.  whereas the IPEX, a platform for continuous exchange of information among national parliaments and between national parliaments and the European institutions, should be further developed in accordance with its Digital Strategy, in which the European Parliament plays a major supporting role;

U.  whereas interinstitutional cooperation has improved after the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon, and the so-called Barroso initiative – the political dialogue launched by the Commission in September 2006 giving national parliaments opportunities to comment, provide positive feedback or criticise the Commission’s proposals;

V.  whereas national parliaments occasionally raise grievances about their relations with the European Union, claiming that they are too complex;

W.  whereas national parliaments have relevant competencies in the areas of freedom, security and justice pursuant to Articles 70, 85 and 88 TFEU and should therefore play an important role in the future of the Union’s security and defence policy;

X.  whereas there should be greater national and European parliamentary control of fiscal and economic policies, decisions taken, and governance matters at EU level;

Y.  whereas the Court of Justice’s decision of 16 May 2017 on the mixed nature of the trade agreement between the EU and Singapore has changed the way in which national parliaments will be involved in trade agreements in the future;

Z.  whereas better interaction and an improved exchange of information between MEPs and MPs and also between national parliaments’ civil servants could help to improve scrutiny of the European debate at national level and thus foster a genuinely European parliamentary and political culture;

Scrutinising governmental activity in European affairs

1.  Considers that the implementation of the rights and obligations of national parliaments deriving from the Treaty of Lisbon has enhanced their role within the European constitutional framework, thus providing for more pluralism, democratic legitimacy and the better functioning of the Union;

2.  Acknowledges that national governments are democratically accountable to national parliaments as acknowledged by Article 10(2) TEU, in accordance with their respective national constitutional orders; takes the view that such accountability is the keystone of the role of national parliamentary chambers in the European Union; encourages national parliaments to fully exercise their European functions in order to directly influence and scrutinise the content of European policies, in particular via the monitoring of their national governments acting as members of the European Council and the Council;

3.  Calls on the Members States to ensure that national parliaments are granted enough time, the capacity, and the necessary access to information in order to fulfil their constitutional role of scrutinising and thus legitimating the activity of national governments when these governments act at European level, whether in the Council or in the European Council; recognises that this European function should take place in full compliance with the Member States’ respective constitutional traditions; believes that, in order to preserve and reinforce this role, the existing exchange of best practices and interaction between national parliaments should be strengthened and promoted;

4.  Considers that transparency of the working methods and decision-making processes of the EU institutions represents a precondition to enable national parliaments to effectively fulfil their institutional role deriving from the Treaties; calls, furthermore, for national parliaments to make full use of their respective competences with the aim of exercising scrutiny over governments’ actions at European level, inter alia by adapting their internal organisation, timetables and rules of procedures to enable them to do so; further suggests an exchange of best practices between national chambers, regular debates between the respective ministers and specialised committees in national parliaments before and after Council and European Council meetings and regular meetings between members of national parliaments, Commissioners and MEPs;

5.  Takes the view that care needs to be taken to avoid any kind of gold-plating of EU legislation by Member States and that national parliaments have a key role to play in this regard; recalls, at the same time, that this is without prejudice to the right of Member States to apply non-regression clauses and to lay down, for example, higher social and environmental standards at national level;

6.  Recalls, while encouraging strengthened and political dialogue with national parliaments and recognising the clear need to reinforce parliamentary participation, that decisions must be taken in accordance with constitutional competences and by taking into account the clear delineation between the respective decision-making competences of the national and European bodies;

7.  States that the European Parliament and national parliaments should be better involved in the European Semester and recommends that budgetary calendars at national and European level are better coordinated throughout the process in order to encourage more effective use of this instrument; recalls, moreover, that the alignment of the European Semester with the agendas of national parliaments could further contribute to the coordination of economic policies, while underlining that such alignment should not disregard the powers of self-governance and the specific rules of procedure of each parliamentary chamber;

8.  Suggests the implementation of a national period for budgetary dialogue, during which national parliaments would be able to deliberate upon and contribute to the European Semester by providing their governments with a mandate in their relations with the Commission and the Council;

9.  Underlines that during the last plenary meeting of the Conference of Parliamentary Committees for Union Affairs (COSAC), in Tallinn, it was recognised that the majority of national parliaments actively attend plenary sessions to debate EU matters, whether at regular intervals or on an ad hoc basis, and that more plenary debates on EU matters increase the visibility of the Union and give citizens the opportunity to learn more about the EU’s agenda and the positions of political parties on these issues;

Creating a European public sphere

10.  Notes that the alignment of different political stances across the Member States could strengthen and expand cross-sectional debates at European level; recommends, therefore, that national parliamentary delegations acting before the European Institutions should reflect political diversity; stresses the relevance of the principle of proportional representation of members from different political parties in this regard;

11.  Notes the fact that the binding will of parliamentary majorities could be expressed in the opinions issued by national parliaments, within or outside the framework of the EWS; endorses the idea, however, of national parliamentary political minorities being given the possibility to express dissenting points of view, which could then be incorporated into the annexes to such opinions; believes that these opinions should be issued in full compliance with the principle of proportionality and in accordance with the rules of procedure of each national parliamentary chamber;

12.   Takes good note of the recent call for a series of democratic conventions across Europe; believes, in this regard, that the establishment of an annual European week would allow MEPs and Commissioners, notably Vice-Presidents in charge of Clusters, to stand before all national parliamentary assemblies in order to discuss and explain the European agenda alongside with MPs and representatives of civil society; suggests reviewing its own rules of procedure in order to endorse the initiative, and encourages national parliaments to do the same; further believes that meetings between national and European political groups in the framework of EU interparliamentary cooperation could bring added value in the form of an authentic European political debate;

Backing reform of the EWS

13.  Underlines the fact that the EWS has seldom been used since the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon, and believes that it could be reformed within the current constitutional framework;

14.  Notes that examples such as the triggering of the ‘yellow card’ procedure against the Commission proposal on the revision of the ‘Posting of Workers Directive’ in 2016 show that the EWS is operational; underlines that the limited use of the ‘yellow card’ procedure could indicate that the principle of subsidiarity is, on balance, respected within the EU; believes, therefore, that the procedural shortcomings of the EWS should not be regarded as conclusive proof of failure to respect subsidiarity; recalls, moreover, that national parliaments may intervene and examine the question of compliance with the principle of subsidiarity prior to the presentation of a legislative proposal by the Commission in the form of Green and White Papers or the annual presentation of the Commission’s Work Programme;

15.  Recalls that, in relation to any new legislative initiative, the Commission is obliged to examine whether the EU has the right to take action and whether such action is justified; underlines, moreover, that prior experience has proven that drawing a line between the political dimension of the principle of subsidiarity and the legal dimension of the principle of proportionality is, on occasion, difficult and troublesome; calls on the Commission, therefore, in its responses to reasoned opinions issued within or outside the framework of the EWS, also to address proportionality, and, where appropriate, any concerns about proposed policy options, in addition to its interpretation of the principle of subsidiarity;

16.  Acknowledges the request by national parliaments to extend the eight-week period during which they can issue reasoned opinions under Article 3 of Protocol No 1; underlines, however, that the current Treaty framework does not provide for such an extension; considers, therefore, that the Commission should implement a technical notification period within the EWS in order to grant additional time between the date on which draft legislative acts are technically received by national parliamentary chambers and the date on which the eight-week period begins; recalls, in this regard, that other practical arrangements for the operation of the subsidiary control mechanism were put into practice by the Commission in 2009;

17.  Takes note of the request from certain national parliaments to extend the eight-week period during which they can issue a reasoned opinion, under Article 6 of Protocol No 2;

18.  Suggests, in line with the political dialogue launched by the Commission in 2016, the full use of the system whereby national parliaments can submit constructive proposals to the Commission with the aim of positively influencing the European debate and the Commission’s power of initiative; suggests, in this regard, that the Commission could enjoy the discretion either to take on board such proposals or to issue a formal response underlining its reasons for not doing so; points out that such a procedure cannot consist of a right of initiative, or the right to withdraw or amend legislation, as it would otherwise subvert ‘the Union method’ and the distribution of competences between national and European level, thus violating the Treaties; recommends, meanwhile, that in the event of a future revision of the Treaties, the right of legislative initiative should be mainly accorded to the European Parliament, as the direct representative of EU citizens;

Implementing the right to information

19.  Reaffirms that Article 12 TEU and Protocol No 1 give national parliaments the right to receive information directly from the European institutions;

20.  Stresses that national parliaments could better cope with the information sent to them either by virtue of the EWS, or under their right to information, if the IPEX platform was given the relevance of an Agora, or forum, for an informal permanent dialogue among national parliaments and between these and the European institutions; resolves, therefore, to promote the use of the platform for the enhancement of political dialogue; recommends that national parliaments use the IPEX platform in a timely fashion to ensure an early start to the national scrutiny mechanism; recommends using IPEX as a channel for the systematic sharing of information and the early flagging of subsidiarity concerns; sees the potential for developing IPEX as the main channel for communication and the transmission of relevant documents from the EU institutions to national parliaments and vice versa, and, in this context, undertakes to offer assistance to national parliamentary chambers’ administrations on how to work with the platform; encourages, in addition, the establishment of more exchanges between the officials of institutions and political groups within the administrations of the European Parliament and national parliaments;

Envisaging better interinstitutional cooperation

21.  Takes good note of the existing cooperation between the European Parliament and national parliaments in COSAC, in the Interparliamentary Conference on Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP-IPC), and within the framework of Article 13 TSCG; stresses that such cooperation should be developed on the basis of the principles of consensus, information-sharing and consultation, in order for national parliaments to exercise scrutiny over their respective governments and administrations;

22.  Reiterates that the current framework of relations between the Union and national parliaments could be simplified and harmonised in order to make it more efficient and effective; calls, in this context, for a review of the engagement between the Union and its national parliaments across existing platforms and forums, with the aim of strengthening these relations and adapting them to current needs; insists, however, upon a clear delineation of decision-making competences between national parliaments and the European Parliament, in which the former should exercise their European function on the basis of their national constitutions, in particular by exercising scrutiny over the members of their national governments as members of the European Council and the Council, which is the level at which they are best placed to monitor the European legislative process; rejects, therefore, the creation of joint parliamentary decision-making bodies for reasons of transparency, accountability and the capacity to act;

23.  Points out that strengthening political and technical dialogue between parliamentary committees, both at national and at European level, would be a greatly productive step towards full interparliamentary cooperation; is considering the possibility of allocating additional resources to achieve this aim and the use of videoconferences where possible;

24.  Acknowledges the relevance of the Interparliamentary Committee Meetings (ICM) established in Articles 9 and 10 of Protocol No 1; believes that better interinstitutional cooperation could be attained if the ICM were accorded more relevance by the Members of the European Parliament and the national parliaments, and if they were prepared for in closer cooperation;

25.  Recommends that national parliaments be fully involved in the continuing development of the Common Security and Defence Policy; believes that such involvement should be promoted in close cooperation with the European Parliament and with full respect for the provisions of national constitutions regarding security and defence policies, including through joint inter-parliamentary meetings between representatives from national parliaments and Members of the European Parliament and via political dialogue between a fully fledged Committee on Security and Defence in the European Parliament and the corresponding national parliamentary committees; notes the potential this has for neutral EU Member States to exercise constructive scrutiny in this area;

26.  Considers that an enhanced political and legislative dialogue between and with national parliaments would favour compliance with the objectives set out in the inter-institutional agreement on better law-making;

o

o    o

27.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission and the governments and parliaments of the Member States.

(1)

OJ C 200, 30.6.1997, p. 153.

(2)

OJ C 284 E, 21.11.2002, p. 322.

(3)

OJ C 212 E, 5.8.2010, p. 94.

(4)

Texts adopted, P7_TA(2014)0430.

(5)

Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0049.

(6)

Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0050.

(7)

Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0048.

(8)

Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0421.


INFORMATION ON ADOPTION IN COMMITTEE RESPONSIBLE

Date adopted

21.3.2018

 

 

 

Result of final vote

+:

–:

0:

23

1

0

Members present for the final vote

Gerolf Annemans, Michał Boni, Mercedes Bresso, Elmar Brok, Fabio Massimo Castaldo, Pascal Durand, Esteban González Pons, Danuta Maria Hübner, Alain Lamassoure, Jo Leinen, Morten Messerschmidt, Maite Pagazaurtundúa Ruiz, Markus Pieper, Paulo Rangel, Helmut Scholz, György Schöpflin, Pedro Silva Pereira, Barbara Spinelli, Claudia Țapardel, Kazimierz Michał Ujazdowski

Substitutes present for the final vote

Max Andersson, Pervenche Berès, Sylvia-Yvonne Kaufmann, Jasenko Selimovic


FINAL VOTE BY ROLL CALL IN COMMITTEE RESPONSIBLE

23

+

ALDE

Maite Pagazaurtundúa Ruiz, Jasenko Selimovic

ECR

Morten Messerschmidt, Kazimierz Michał Ujazdowski

EFDD

Fabio Massimo Castaldo

GUE/NGL

Helmut Scholz, Barbara Spinelli

PPE

Michał Boni, Elmar Brok, Esteban González Pons, Danuta Maria Hübner, Alain Lamassoure, Markus Pieper, Paulo Rangel, György Schöpflin

S&D

Pervenche Berès, Mercedes Bresso, Sylvia-Yvonne Kaufmann, Jo Leinen, Pedro Silva Pereira, Claudia Țapardel

VERTS/ALE

Max Andersson, Pascal Durand

1

-

ENF

Gerolf Annemans

0

0

 

 

Key to symbols:

+  :  in favour

-  :  against

0  :  abstention

Last updated: 4 April 2018Legal notice