The Role of National Parliaments
Since the start of this millennium the European Union (EU) has been preoccupied with securing a new constitutional settlement with the primary purpose of making the EU a more accountable, democratic and relevant organisation in the lives of its citizens. Though the project for a Constitution for Europe was abandoned, the Treaty of Lisbon 2007 maintains many of the constitutional principles and values that were contained within the Constitutional Treaty and which arose from the Laeken Declaration and the Convention on the Future of the European Union. The Laeken Declaration 2001 noted that: The European Union derives its legitimacy from the democratic values it projects, the aims it pursues and the powers and instruments it possesses. However, the European project also derives its legitimacy from democratic, transparent and efficient institutions. The national parliaments also contribute towards the legitimacy of the European project. The declaration on the future of the Union, annexed to the Treaty of Nice, stressed the need to examine their role in European integration. The significance of this statement is that it is recognition of not only the democratic credentials of national parliaments and that they remain constitutionally relevant institutions in the EU polity, but also that national parliaments have a definitive role to play in the future of EU integration. In the first formal recognition of the democratic credentials of national parliaments in the Treaty, Article 12 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU) provides that national parliaments will contribute ‘actively to the good functioning of the Union’.