National Parliaments: a bulwark for Europe
Editor : Fondation Robert Schuman
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Number of pages : -
ISBN : -
Language : English
How should we increase citizens' involvement in European decisions?
Just a few days before the European Council that will address this question amongst others, Hubert Haenel, president of the Delegation for the European Union at the Senate has put forward a solution in a study written for the Robert Schuman Foundation: he suggests that national parliaments be more involved in the procedure and become players in the construction of Europe.
The author believes that the "lack of democracy" has been one of the main criticisms aimed at the European Union for a long time. But until recently any solutions pinpointed make good this shortfall were mainly internal: this involved increasing the democratic legitimacy of the European institutions. This solution has been developed over the last twenty-seven years since the election of the European Parliament by universal suffrage and until the publication of the debates in the Council of Ministers. But this obviously cannot take on board the continuation of the "national factor" within the European Union. Many European citizens believe that the State is the vital guardian of democratic legitimacy. An alternative method to make good this democratic deficiency would lie in enhancing the role of the national parliaments, the protectors of national democratic legitimacy within the community decision making process.
The 34th Note by the Robert Schuman Foundation reviews the enhanced involvement of national representations in the construction of Europe. As Hubert Haenel recalls this harks back to the Maastricht Treaty that establishes a permanent co-operation mechanism between the European Parliament and the various national parliaments and encourages the various national governments to involve their respective parliaments in the definition of their European policy.
A "Conference of Organisations Specialised in Community Affairs" (COSAC) has been established, the role of which has constantly been enhanced over the years. According to Hubert Haenel, this development is the only one which will be able to reconcile European citizens with the European Union whose competence and ambitions have to grow.
In spite of the French and Dutch "NO" to the Constitutional Treaty citizens' acceptance of the European ideal is still a reality. The enhancement of the role of the national parliaments within the European Union appears to be the best means to draw closer to the citizens' European reality.
This "Note" is published both simultaneously in French ("Les Parlements nationaux, un appui pour l'Europe") and English.
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