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 6: Subsidiarity control after Lisbon

Adam Cygan

Subjects: law - academic, european law


The allocation of subsidiarity monitoring in Article 12 TEU to national parliaments together with the requirements within Protocol 2 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. First, as seen in Chapter 5, 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. Secondly, under Protocol 2 national parliaments are expected to co-ordinate their domestic scrutiny activities, principally through the Conference of European Affairs Committees of national parliaments (COSAC), to arrive at a single conclusion of whether a legislative proposal complies with the subsidiarity principle. But in relation to this task there remain difficulties, not least because, as seen in the previous chapter, the Treaty of Lisbon does not provide a clear and unambiguous explanation of what constitutes subsidiarity. Finally, the recognition of national parliaments as guardians, or gatekeepers, of the exercise of EU competence can be considered as a more general acknowledgement of the continued presence and importance of the entity of the nation State within the process of EU integration. National parliaments, above all other institutions, provide a tangible expression of this entity and it is they that have dutifully ratified each new Treaty that has enabled deeper EU integration. Protocol 2 includes what has become known as an ‘early warning mechanism’ for subsidiarity monitoring.

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