EurActiv.com Correspondent's Choice

The following article was published by EurActiv.com on 2nd December 2009.

European Commission President José Manuel Barroso sent a letter to the speakers of the EU 27’s national parliaments this week, informing them of their increased powers under the Lisbon Treaty, EurActiv has learned.

In the letter to speakers of the EU’s 40 upper and lower chambers of parliament, seen by EurActiv, Barroso and outgoing Vice-President Margot Wallström explain that “the new treaty recognises the central importance of national parliaments in the democratic fabric of the EU”.

For the first time “national parliaments contribute actively to the good functioning of the Union,” they write, providing them with a means to make the European Union “more democratic and more transparent”.

The letter argues that the outgoing Commission has been “a strong advocate of an increased role for national parliaments,” citing the 500 meetings with national parliaments between 2004 and 2010, and highlighting the “enthusiastic response” from parliaments to the so-called ‘Barroso initiative’.

This mechanism, adopted during the “period of reflection” that followed the 2005 rejection of the European Constitution in France and the Netherlands, transmitted directly all new proposals and consultation papers to national parliaments, “inviting them to react so as to improve the process of policy formulation”.

Between the start of this new initiative in 2006 and the end of 2008, national parliaments transmitted some 368 opinions to the Commission. Of these, 84 were sent by the Portuguese Assembleia da Republica, 53 by the French Sénat, 39 by the German Bundestag, 33 by the UK’s House of Lords, 23 by the Danish Folketinget and 22 by the Czech Senate.

However, as one parliament official told EurActiv, these statistics do not tell the full picture, as in some cases they simply related to a parliament informing the Commission of its approval on a given proposal.

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