Research Handbooks in European Law series
Edited by Adam Lazowski and Steven Blockmans
Chapter 4: National parliaments as guardians of the principle of subsidiarity
The debate surrounding democracy and accountability in the EU has not been laid to rest by the Treaty of Lisbon. On the contrary, in Member States such as the UK and the Netherlands both parliamentary and public debate has continued with respect to the ambit of the EU’s powers and how EU decision-making may be made more accountable. In the UK, this debate has culminated in an ‘in/out’ referendum on EU membership in 2016, but this headline-grabbing event has overwhelmed the more measured and arguably informed constitutional discussions which national parliaments have recently engaged in. In particular, this parliamentary debate has focused on how to improve the participation of national parliaments in EU affairs and how subsidiarity monitoring can become more effective. The allocation of subsidiarity monitoring in Article 12 TEU to national parliaments together with the requirements within Protocol 2 on the Application of the Principles of Subsidiarity and Proportionality is the single most important development for national parliaments since their contribution was first recognised in Declaration 13 of the Treaty of Maastricht. There are three reasons for this. Firstly, the principle of subsidiarity raises the presumption that legislation will be made at the appropriate level of governance and the monitoring provisions within Protocol 2 are the first formal Treaty provisions which provide for this.
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