National parliaments and the Commission’s work programme

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(Photo: European Parliament on flickr)

Without any doubt, the annual work programme of the European Commission (called “A new start” for 2015 and published on 16 December 2014) is an important policy document that receives quite some attention from the other EU institutions (earlier this year, the splits in the European Parliament were noteworthy: see EurActiv.com). One of the items on the agenda of the COSAC[1] meeting in Riga on 1 and 2 June 2015 was how national parliaments scrutinise this document.

The Dutch Tweede Kamer has put together a very interesting table which contains those chambers that have discussed at least one of the priorities (Annex 1 “New initiatives”) of the 2015 work programme: 14 chambers out of 41 chambers in total have done so: e1-9 Letter NL House of Representatives-table of prioritiesSource: Durch Tweede Kamer, via COSAC. Agata Gostynska tweeted about this first:

At the conference, Danielle Auroi, who chairs the European affairs committee of the French Assemblée nationale, spoke (Video here, Ms Auroi speaks from 0:18:30) about a resolution of the French Assemblée nationale on the Commission’s 2015 work programme (which can be found here). As this video shows, the resolution was agreed unanimously by the European affairs committee on 28 January 2015 (and later adopted by parliament):

Such scrutiny could be a very useful tool indeed and the “French way” might even be considered best practice, because the self-restraining Juncker Commission (but legislative output has already dropped since 2010) and the agenda-setting European Council (Annex 1 to the Conclusions of 27 June 2014) are trying to pre-define – and limit – what the EU is doing. Parliaments should make their voice heard. Interestingly, national parliaments are also trying to establish a “green card” in order to play a proactive role by making “constructive non-binding suggestions” for “policy or legislative proposals to the European Commission” (see COSAC Contribution 2.4., 2.9., 2.10.).

But, sadly, no Commission representative was present at that session:

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[1] COSAC = Conférence des Organes Parlementaires Spécialisés dans les Affaires de l’Union des Parlements de l’Union Européenne (Conference of Parliamentary Committees for Union Affairs of Parliaments of the European Union)

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