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The role of national parliaments in the EU under the Treaty of Lisbon

(1.12.2009 - 30.11.2011)

2-4 October 2011, Warsaw 
XLVI Conference of Parliamentary Committees for Union Affairs of Parliaments of the European Union (COSAC)

At the XLVI COSAC meeting a debate on the evaluation of parliamentary experience and best practices two years after the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon was held. COSAC welcomed the active involvement of national Parliaments in subsidiarity checks under Protocol 2 annexed to the Treaty of Lisbon. According to COSAC, national Parliaments and the EU institutions should actively exchange information and their existing practices on the application of Protocol 2, and its application should become more specific as part of a continuous dialogue between all the parties concerned.

[Source: Contribution of the XLVI Conference of Parliamentary Committees for Union Affairs of Parliaments of the European Union (COSAC), Warsaw, 2-4 October 2011]

4-5 April 2011, Brussels
Meeting of the EU Speakers' Conference (EUSC)

At the EU Speakers' Conference in Brussels a debate on the following topics was held:

  1. Parliamentary scrutiny of the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) and the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP);
  2. The role of the Parliaments in the oversight of the European Area of Freedom, Security and Justice. The following issues were discussed: parliamentary oversight of the security and intelligence services (projected database for the exchange of information between the competent parliamentary committees) and the role of the Parliaments in the monitoring of Europol.

[Source: Conference of the Speakers of the Parliaments of the EU, Presidency Conclusions, Brussels, 4-5 April 2011]

17 January 2011, Brussels
Meeting of Secretaries General

Conclusions on IPEX
The Secretaries General:
- called on the national parliaments to use the IPEX website to report on their experiences in the first year following the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon,
- asked the Commission to accommodate the wishes of the national parliaments regarding the setting of deadlines for the completion of subsidiarity checks on legislative proposals,
- renewed their invitation to the EU Council to engage in direct cooperation with IPEX and asked the IPEX Board to institutionalise the relationship with the Commission and the Council.

[Source: Meeting of the Secretaries-General of the Parliaments of the European Union, 17 January 2011 and Conclusions on IPEX, 17 January 2011]

24-26 October 2010, Brussels
Meeting of the Conference of Community and European Affairs Committees of Parliaments of the European Union (COSAC)

Conclusions and Contribiution of XLIV COSAC

  1. Future role of COSAC
    1.1. The Conference encouraged the incoming Presidencies to include a debate on the Work Programme of the European Commission in the agenda of the ordinary meetings of COSAC. When fixing the date of these meetings, COSAC Presidencies were invited to take into account the timing of the publication of the European Commission's Work Programme. (Section 4.2 of the Contribution)
    1.2. COSAC encouraged national parliaments to play an active role in the smooth functioning of the European Union by using all the possibilities offered to them by the Treaty of Lisbon, in particular to monitor the application of the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality according to the procedures outlined in Protocol 2 annexed to the Treaties, and to continue the political dialogue with the European Commission not only limited to legislative proposals and going well beyond the issue of subsidiarity. (Section 4.4 of the Contribution)
    1.3. COSAC considered it necessary to have regular debates on the implementation of the provisions of the Treaty of Lisbon related to the new powers of national parliaments. (Section 1 of the Conclusions)
    1.4. COSAC odnotowała szereg propozycji parlamentów narodowych dotyczących zmiany regulaminu COSAC i wezwała przyszłą węgierską prezydencję do zapoczątkowania debaty w celu sformułowania konkretnych propozycji. (pkt 4 Konkluzji)
  2. Cooperation with the European Union institutions
    2.1. With reference to the definition of the term "draft legislative act", COSAC referred to the Contribution of the XLIII COSAC and invited the Council to reconsider its initial position. (Section 5.2 of the Contribution)
    2.2. In the light of the forthcoming consultation documents and legislative proposals on Europol and Eurojust, COSAC underscored the utmost necessity of a broad and timely preliminary consultation with national parliaments. (Section 5.6 of the Contribution)
    2.3. COSAC expressed hope that a direct dialogue with the European Commission would become a regular feature on the agenda of COSAC so that national parliaments and the European Parliaments could have an open discussion with the European Commission. (Point 5.3 of the Contribution)
  3. Economic governance of the European Union – parliamentary scrutiny
    3.1. COSAC called for a fast-track implementation approach to proposals on economic governance and stressed that the far-reaching impact of the proposals called for careful scrutiny. COSAC also noted the necessity for a thorough decision-making process that would lead to a genuine political commitment at the national and EU level alike. In COSAC opinion, the effectiveness of parliamentary scrutiny exercised by national parliaments and the European Parliament must not in any circumstances be jeopardised. (Point 3.1 of the Contribution)

[Source: Conclusions of the XLIV COSAC, Brussels, 24-26.10.2010; Contribution of the XLIV COSAC, Brussels, 24-26.10.2010]

The European Commission's reply to the Contribution of the XLIV COSAC

  1. In reply to the Contribution of the XLIV COSAC, the European Commission recognised the role of a continuous dialogue between the Commission and COSAC on the Commission Work Programme (CWP) and stressed that national parliaments should also be involved in the strategic planning process. The Commission encouraged COSAC to hold a yearly EU policy debate during its spring plenary meeting, which would allow COSAC's contribution to be presented in time to feed into preparations for the CWP. National parliaments would thus be in a position to contribute to building a consensus on where the EU should focus its policy in the upcoming year. (Reply of the European Commission to the Contribution of the XLIV COSAC, p. 2)
  2. The European Commission noted that its contacts with national parliaments had been considerably strengthened over the last years and encouraged a further enhancement of the dialogue and cooperation between both sides. (Reply of the European Commission to the Contribution of the XLIV COSAC, p. 3)
  3. The European Commission emphasised that national parliaments should make full use of their enhanced role in the EU's legislative process under the Lisbon Treaty and play their respective parts in the determination of national positions with regard to the legislation, which together make up the position of the Council. (Reply of the European Commission to the Contribution of the XLIV COSAC, p. 2)

[Source: Reply of the European Commission to the Contribution of the XLIV COSAC]

31 May – 1 June 2010, Madrid
Meeting of the Conference of Community and European Affairs Committees of Parliaments of the European Union (COSAC)

  1. The role of COSAC after the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon
    1.1. The Conference stressed that monitoring the role of the national parliaments would remain one of COSAC's priorities, especially in the light of Article 12 of the TEU. COSAC is to provide a forum for the exchange of views on sensitive issues. The Conference underlined that discussions on procedures should be avoided in future in order to focus on political debates on Europe-wide subjects of common interest to the Committees on EU Affairs. Specific draft legislative acts may also be discussed insofar as they deal with particularly contentious issues. Members of the European Commission and the Council as well as the Presidents of the European Council, the Commission and the Council should also be invited to the meetings. COSAC meetings may also include a presentation of the Annual Work Programme of the EC in the first half-year and evaluation of its activities in the second half-year. (Sections 10.1-10.3 of the Contribution and Sections 3.1 and 3.3 of the Conclusions)
    1.2. COSAC recognised that after the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon coordinated subsidiarity checks should no longer be a priority for the Conference, although those checks may be continued on an ad hoc basis. Nevertheless, it was emphasised that COSAC should still focus on issues related to the enhancement of the efficiency of parliamentary scrutiny of EU matters. (Section 1.4 of the Conclusions)
    1.3. The Conference believed that future reports should not be conducted on a regular basis but rather on the proposal of the Presidency. They are to identify the issues of importance and/or controversy that will be debated at COSAC meetings. (Section 2.2 of the Conclusions)
  2. The role of national parliaments after the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon
    2.1. The Conference noted the fundamental role of national parliaments in the parliamentary scrutiny of the common foreign and security policy as well as the common security and defence policy. (Section 5.3 of the Contribution)
    2.2. COSAC expressed support for the EU's accession to the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, underlining that national parliaments should have the opportunity to submit their comments to the European Commission on its negotiation mandate. (Section 5.4 of the Contribution)
    2.3. COSAC underlined that inter-institutional agreements should not affect the inter-institutional balance provided for in the Treaties, including the status of the Council, which enables he national parliaments and the EP to influence European policy. (Sections 6.2 and 6.3 of the Contribution)
    2.4. The Conference expressed its concern about the views of the European Commission and the Council as to what constitutes a "draft legislative act", communicated in response to a letter from the COSAC Chairperson of 16 February 2010. They adopted a definition excluding certain legislative acts from subsidiarity checks under Protocol No 2. COSAC called on both institutions to review their position. (Section 9.1 of the Contribution)
    2.5. COSAC encouraged national parliaments to intensify their use of IPEX and other forms of cooperation in order to provide mutual information concerning their respective activities and standpoints. (Section 1.5 of the Conclusions)

[Source: Conclusions of the XLIII COSAC, Madrid, 31.05-1.06.2010; Contribution of the XLIII COSAC, Madrid, 31.05-1.06.2010; Reply from the Council on the definition of a "draft legislative act", 22.03.2010; Reply from the European Commission on the definition of a "draft legislative act" , 27.04.2010; Reply from the European Parliament on the definition of a "draft legislative act"]


14-15 May 2010, Sztokholm
Meeting of the EU Speakers' Conference (EUSC)

  1. Interparliamentary cooperation after the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon
    1.1. The Speakers requested the EU institutions to enter into dialogue with national parliaments when drafting and negotiating regulations dealing with parliamentary evaluation of Eurojust and control of Europol. As part of the consultation process, they proposed that an interparliamentary meeting should be arranged on the mechanisms for the evaluation of Eurojust and control of Eurojust, attended by representatives of parliamentary committees or bodies responsible for issues concerning the area of freedom, security and justice. (Section 4 and 5 of the Conclusions)
    1.2. The Speakers asked the incoming EUSC Presidency to take forward the discussion on future parliamentary scrutiny of the common foreign and security policy, including the CSDP, in order to reach an agreement at the next meeting of the Conference of Speakers of EU Parliaments. (Sections 6 and 7 of the Conclusions)
    1.3. Referring to the future role of COSAC, the Speakers emphasised the need to develop and strengthen contacts between specialised committees. They also noted they would await the results of the internal discussion of COSAC. (Section 9 of the Conclusions)
    1.4. The Speakers asked the incoming EUSC Presidency to explore the proposal to schedule regular conferences for parliamentary committees dealing European affairs, foreign affairs and defence as well as justice and home affairs in cooperation with the EP, and to elaborate on how to strengthen links between the different Council constellations and national parliaments. (Section 12 of the Conclusions)
    1.5. The Speakers entrusted the IPEX Board with the task of making information on the activities of parliaments and EU institutions more easily accessible and transparent by establishing standards for digital data and documents. (Section 14 of the Conclusions)
    1.6. The Speakers adopted the revised EUSC Guidelines (Section 16 and 17 of the Conclusions)
  2. The Speakers encouraged the use of interparliamentary meetings and asked the incoming Presidency to further explore the use of videoconferences as a means of communication between parliaments to be followed up at the next EUSC meeting. (Section 19 of the Conclusions)

[Source: EUSC Presidency Conclusions, Sztokholm, 14-15 May 2010]


8 March 2010, Stockholm
Meeting of the Secretaries General


  1. Continuation of the debate initiated at the IPEX Lisbon Forum
    The Secretary General of Riksdag presented a progress report on the IPEX Parliamentary Forum debate on the Lisbon Treaty and proposals for two subjects.
    1.1. Subsidiarity and exchange of information
    The Secretaries General:
    - called on the representatives of national parliaments in Brussels to avoid bureaucratisation and rigid procedures in their mutual cooperation,
    - proposed that the EUSC should ask COSAC to provide findings on how national parliaments use the subsidiarity check procedure and the "Barroso initiative" political dialogue with the Commission,
    - commissioned the IPEX Board to establish a non-public forum where parliaments could exchange unofficial information in writing,
    1.2. Coordination in the planning of interparliamentary meetings
    Detailed proposals are provided in the draft Annex to the Hague Guidelines for the IPEX Lisbon Forum (e.g. the problem of reducing the number of meetings, defining the party responsible for coordination, exchange of information on the planning of meetings, preparation of a calendar, availability of documents on meetings).
    The Secretaries General concluded that the trio-plus* formula should be adopted for the coordination of interparliamentary meetings.
    "The continued process" – the Secretaries General requested the EUSC Presidency to provide a basis for discussion on the other two subjects: "the future role of the EU Speakers Conference" and "monitoring in the area of freedom, security and justice".
  2. Presentation of and discussion on the agenda of the May EUSC.

[Source: Synthesis of discussions, 15 March 2010 and Progress report on the Lisbon forum debate, 2 March 2010]


* For details of the proposal please see the following documents: Revision of the Guidelines for the Conference of Speakers of EU Parliaments, 1 April 2010 and EU IPC Guidelines annex – A trio-plus draft, 30 March 2010.


4-5 February 2010, Madrid
Meeting of COSAC Chairpersons

  1. The meeting:
    - adopted a draft agenda of the XLIII COSAC meeting,
    - adopted an outline 13th biannual report,
    - discussed the issue of the economic crisis,
    - discussed the priorities of the Spanish Presidency.
  2. During the meeting, the Chairperson of the European Scrutiny Committee of the House of Commons presented a letter addressed to the Chairperson of the Joint Committee on European Affairs of the Spanish Parliament, where he noted the possible interpretation of the term "legislative act", which could limit the new powers of national parliaments as defined in the Treaty of Lisbon. The information note attached to the letter explained that in the event a restrictive definition of "special legislative procedure" is adopted, legal acts adopted by the Council with the participation of the European Parliament, but not defined explicitly as "special legislative procedure" would be excluded from the procedure. This means that the provisions of Protocols No 1 and 2 annexed to the Treaties will not apply to such acts, which, in the opinion of the Commons European Scrutiny Committee, undermines the powers of national parliaments under the Treaty of Lisbon. Therefore the Chairperson of the Committee requests national parliaments to debate the issue within COSAC.
  3. The Chairpersons suggested cooperation between the European University Institute in Florence and a group of academics carrying on research into the role of parliaments in the EU under the project "Europeanisation of parliamentary behaviour".

[Sources: Minutes of the Meeting of the Chairpersons of COSAC, Madrid, 5 February 2010 and Letter of the Chairman of the European Scrutiny Committee of the UK House of Commons, 28 January 2010 (Note attached to the letter of the Chairman of the European Scrutiny Committee of the UK House of Commons)]


17 December 2009, Strasbourg
Conference of Presidents of the EP

In connection with the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon, the Conference of Presidents of the European Parliament:
- invited the President of the EP to conduct exploratory talks with the speakers of national parliaments with a view to establishing a renewed system of interparliamentary cooperation by May 2010,
- set up a steering group that should reflect, in close cooperation with the President, on any further measures for the implementation of the Treaty of Lisbon concerning national parliaments.

[Source: Minutes of the meeting of Conference of Presidents of the EP, 17 December 2009, p.12, 22]


17 December 2009
Letter from Per Westerberg to the President and Vice President of the European Commission

In response to a letter from the President and Vice President of the European Commission, the Speaker of the Swedish Riksdag and Chairperson of the EUSC welcomed the Commission's proposals concerning the modes of cooperation within the early warning mechanism. He underlined the role of the general scrutiny of EU matters by national parliaments and the need to exchange views with the Commission on monitoring in the JHA area.

[Source: Letter from Per Westerberg, the Speaker of the Swedish Riksdag, 17 December 2009]


11-12 December 2009, Stockholm
Extra EU Speakers Conference (EUSC)

  1. The discussion concerned preparations for the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon. The working groups discussed four subjects:
    - means and procedures for intensified exchange of information and effective scrutiny of EU matters, especially in the monitoring of the principle of subsidiarity,
    - means and procedures for effective coordination of interparliamentary meetings and other activities,
    - the future role and function of the EU Speakers Conference,
    - monitoring in the area of freedom, security and justice.
  2. It was decided that all problems concerning the role of national parliaments and interparliamentary cooperation under the Treaty of Lisbon would be discussed by national parliaments through an open process of deliberation coordinated by the Swedish Presidency. A designated forum (accessible only to national parliaments) on the IPEC website will be used as the platform for this debate – the IPEX Parliamentary Forum on the Lisbon Treaty (Lisbon Forum). The outcome of the debate will be presented at the EUSC in the Presidency Report in May 2010.

[Source: Extra EU Speakers Conference. Synthesis of discussions, Stockholm, 11-12 December 2009 and Preparing for the Lisbon Treaty. The continued process, Stockholm, 11-12 December 2009]


1 December 2009
Letter from the President and Vice President of the EC to national parliaments

  1. The President and Vice President of the European Commission communicated detailed arrangements for the cooperation in the scrutiny of the principle of subsidiarity. They pointed out, inter alia, the following major issues:
    - the 8 week period starts with the transmission of the last language version of a given document, and it is specified in the transmission letter (lettre de saisine), and month of August is not taken into account,
    - the Commission will take into consideration all reasoned opinions of national parliaments, even if they provide different motivations as to the non-compliance and refer to different provisions of the proposal.
  2. The authors of the letter underlined that the Commission saw the early warning mechanism as part of its wider political relationship with national parliaments and intended to continue political dialogue (the "Barroso initiative").

[Source: Letter from President Barroso and Vice-President Wallström, 1 December 2009]

wróć do góry

3.1. COSAC called for a fast-track implementation approach to proposals on economic governance and stressed that the far-reaching impact of the proposals called for careful scrutiny. COSAC also noted the necessity for a thorough decision-making process that would lead to a genuine political commitment at the national and EU level alike. In COSAC opinion, the effectiveness of parliamentary scrutiny exercised by national parliaments and the European Parliament must not in any circumstances be jeopardised. (Point 3.1 of the Contribution)