Accountability, Parliamentarism and Transparency in the EU

Accountability, Parliamentarism and Transparency in the EU

The Role of National Parliaments

Adam Cygan

Adam Cygan analyses the impact of subsidiarity monitoring upon national parliaments and to what extent this provides new opportunities for national parliaments to be engaged in, and exert influence over, the EU legislative process. While the post-Lisbon position of national parliaments may have improved, this book questions whether national parliaments can really be considered as central actors in EU affairs. The author also queries whether subsidiarity monitoring has the capacity to create a collective bloc of horizontal actors which exert effective accountability over the EU legislative process.

Chapter 1: National parliaments, accountability and transparency in a European perspective

Adam Cygan

Subjects: law - academic, european law


Democracy is a fundamental and core value within any system of governance. Moreover, it is the accountability of decision-makers, who govern in the name of the citizens, which is an integral part of the democratic process and which ensures the legitimacy of legislative acts. In the context of the evolvement of EU integration and especially the emphasis, since the Treaty of Maastricht 1992, of the EU seeking improved democratisation and accountability, the debate has focussed on how to secure both input and output legitimacy within the EU legislative process. This debate has focussed primarily on the improvement of accountability of the institutional actors which participate in decision- making. Academic commentators, for example Scharpf, have drawn a distinction between input and output legitimacy when assessing the democratic credentials of the EU. In particular Scharpf identifies that democratic governance requires legislators and policy-makers to make choices that reflect the priorities and preferences of the citizens. In the EU’s system of governance this has witnessed a process of EU democratisation with an increase of powers for the European Parliament, which is intended to provide input legitimacy within the legislative process. Weatherill and Menon have described this need to connect with citizens within the legislative process as requiring a ‘chain of accountability linking those governing to those governed’. Following the Treaty of Lisbon 2007 the two key links in the legitimacy chain are the directly elected European Parliament and national parliaments which through subsidiarity monitoring are expected to inject some element of output legitimacy into the legislative process

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