Accountability, Parliamentarism and Transparency in the EU
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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.
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Chapter 3: National parliaments in the EU Treaties

The Role of National Parliaments

Adam Cygan


There is a degree of irony with the Treaty of Lisbon including a number of substantial changes aimed at improving the participation of national parliaments in EU affairs. It could be argued that the Treaty-makers have belatedly recognised that national parliaments have a distinct role to play in an enlarged EU. It is also politically expedient for incumbent governments to demonstrate to their domestic electorates that national parliaments are not irrelevant actors in an enlarged EU. Accordingly, Article 12 TEU and Protocols 1 and 2 of the Treaty of Lisbon assign to national parliaments the task of subsidiarity monitoring through which they monitor the application of EU competences, and by doing so are expected to help bridge the democracy gap between the citizen and the EU. The irony in this arises from the fact that national parliaments, with their traditions and principles of democratic scrutiny and accountability, have remained a constant throughout a period when the supra-national EU was developing in a less than democratic fashion. As seen in Chapter 2, Europeanisation and the emphasis upon institutional democratisation can be identified as the primary causes of deparliamentarisation. Against this background, why should domestic legislatures now be considered integral to legitimising EU legislation? At a time when the EU consisted of six, or even twelve Member States, and when their influence and contribution could arguably have been greater, national parliaments were peripheral to the development of European integration and their democratic features were largely ignored.

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