The Role of National Parliaments
Chapter 8: National parliaments after Lisbon: A new dawn of accountability or remaining on the periphery?
Parliaments remain central institutions in European systems of government. Notwithstanding the process of integration and Europeanisation, national parliaments retain their constitutional position within Member States and the need for their consent to approve each new Treaty reiterates that national parliaments retain a constitutional relevance. National parliaments also remain the embodiment of the nation State. The inclusion of Article 50 TEU within the Treaty of Lisbon to some extent underlines this point, by providing a withdrawal clause for Member States. This implies that withdrawal from the EU by a Member State is an issue which a national parliament can unilaterally determine without the need for prior consent from the EU. While this suggests that the nation State remains a central concept within the EU, not too much should be read into the inclusion of Article 50 TEU within the Treaty. First, it offers no new powers for national parliaments; withdrawal from the EU could have been achieved prior to the Treaty of Lisbon and the main development of Article 50 TEU is that this exit clause offers the prospect of an orderly procedure for withdrawal. Secondly, confirming the relevance of national parliaments in the EU by reference to a Treaty provision that provides for the withdrawal of a Member State cannot be said to improve either legislative accountability or EU democracy. Therefore, while Article 50 TEU confirms that the EU remains a supra-national organisation made up of nation States, it is questionable whether this provision will encourage national parliaments to conclude that their democratic parliamentary credentials are any more relevant to EU integration than before the Treaty of Lisbon.
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