2004-08-19 EU Protocol on the Role of the National Parliaments encourages Parliaments to express their views after translations are ready
The Protocol on the Role of National Parliaments in the European Union encourages participation of national parliaments in the EU Council's decision process. There is even a joint committee of European Affairs committees of the national parliaments (COSAC) which occasionally convenes.
It is well known that the Council's "political agreement" on software patents was achieved mostly without any input from national parliaments or against such input. Given that the Council completely undid the work of the Parliament, this Council decision is in special need of legitimation by national parliaments. There is still a chance.
The protocol encourages parliaments to express their views after the translations are ready
Rules of procedure of the Council, article 3.3:
- "Items relating to the adoption of an act or a common position on a legislative proposal or a proposal for a measure to be adopted in accordance with Title VI of the Treaty on European Union shall not be placed on the provisional agenda for a decision until the six-week period provided for in point 3 of the Protocol on the role of national parliaments in the European Union has elapsed. The Council may unanimously derogate from the six-week period where the entry of an item is subject to the exception on grounds of urgency provided for in point 3 of that Protocol."
From the protocol:
- DESIRING, however, to encourage greater involvement of national parliaments in the activities of the European Union and to enhance their ability to express their views on matters which may be of particular interest to them,
The protocol explicitely gives national parliaments the right to read the texts in their own languages, and then express their views. The protocol is part of the treaty of Amsterdam, but almost nobody seems to know it, Tell your parliaments, they will be glad to hear. Especially since the Union became so much bigger, the protocol is essential in partly solving the democratic deficit.
Best of all, there is a clear case to use the protocol! The software patent directive. Use this directive to make Europe more democratic.
Democracy in the EU should be strengthened, believes Mr Claus Larsen-Jensen, Chairman of the Folketing's (Danish Parliament) European Affairs Committee and Chairman of COSAC - an assembly of the national parliaments of the EU Member States - during the Danish EU Presidency. He has, therefore, presented a number of proposals designed to reform COSAC and its role in European politics. Representatives of the European Affairs Committees in the national parliaments of the Member States will meet with their colleagues from the candidate countries and with representatives of the European Parliament on 17-18 October 2002 at Christiansborg.
Mr Larsen-Jensen identifies three main areas where efforts must be made to increase democracy in the EU:
- National parliaments and the European Parliament are to intensify their co-operation
- National parliaments are to exert a greater influence on the European policy of their governments,
- The citizens are to be incorporated in European politics together with national parliaments.
Note: According to the Councils rules of procedure, the Council needs unanimity to deviate from the 6 weeks. There needs to be urgency.
"The Council may unanimously derogate from the six-week period where the entry of an item is subject to the exception on grounds of urgency provided for in point 3 of that Protocol."
Otherwise, any member state and the EP can appeal. Quite a risk.
DK Parl EU Committee: COSAC meeting of 2002 decides ambitious reform agenda -- ambitions to realise controle of council by national parliaments, but "idea of second chamber is dead". The website belongs to a EU information center with staff which indicates will to help navigate EU institutions
Parlament.gv.at on COSAC -- explains role and foundations in protocol on role of national parliaments
2004-05-19 Irish Presidency foreign minister at COSAC meeting: key role of national parliaments in EU legislation -- speech delivered to COSAC meeting in Dublin one day after "political agreement" on software patents, stresses need to increase influence of national parliaments on EU legislative process: "In his address to delegates, Minister Cowen will highlight the role played by European Affairs Committees in National Parliaments in assessing and reviewing draft EU legislation and policy. The Minister will also discuss the enhanced role for the national Parliaments outlined in the draft Constitutional Treaty."