Mr. Vytenis Povilas ANDRIUKAITIS, member of the Convention, on the Role of National Parliaments in the European Union and the application of the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality Brussels, 18 March 2003
National parliaments are a means of promoting democratic accountability. They play an increasingly important role in the life of the Union. But today this role is not strong enough.
The draft protocols attempt to provide the national parliaments with a stronger voice, but in some respects they do not go far enough. In order to involve national parliaments in the EU matters, they must be provided with full information and well in advance, before the decisions are made at the Union level. This is an essential precondition for both ensuring the scrutiny of the national government and monitoring the respect for the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality. The relevant information must be sent to the national parliaments simultaneously with Union legislators or upon publication.
Another important aspect is respect for the six-weeks period allocated for the national parliaments scrutiny of the Commissions legislative proposals. During the period, no decisions on the proposals should be reached by the executive. Otherwise, the national parliaments voice is lost. That is why the national parliaments should be provided with a record of the debate of the Council.
As to the early warning system, I support the rule: one Member State - one national parliament - one voice. Each national parliament, unicameral or bicameral, should internally decide on one reasoned opinion.
Under the draft protocol on subsidiarity, it is one third of national parliaments that triggers the mechanism, and the discretion to maintain, amend or withdraw its proposal is left with the Commission.
In order to give national parliaments a stronger say, I am ready to support Gisela Stuarts proposal to introduce two thresholds - one third and two thirds, provided the Commission is not confronted with a virtual veto.
I am also in favour of strengthening COSAC, as a very important body of interparliamentary cooperation. COSAC may promote the exchange of information and best practices between national parliaments and the European Parliament, including their sectoral committees. COSAC may also convene ad hoc interparliamentary conferences.