A new, but belated, report on the Lisbon Treaty's provisions for national parliaments from the cross-party EU Scrutiny Committee makes for very interesting reading.
Just to pull out some of the best bits, the committee concludes: "we doubt whether the Lisbon Treaty's new subsidiarity provisions about the role of national parliaments would make much practical difference to the influence presently enjoyed by the UK Parliament", and says, "we doubt the significance of the 'greater opportunities' for national parliaments to be involved in any meaningful manner in the workings of the EU."
The Committee notes that "if national parliaments trigger the yellow or orange card procedures, the decision on whether a proposal is compatible with subsidiarity will continue to rest with the EU institutions." It also notes that, "There may in future be proposals where it might be difficult to deny that collective action by the EU would be the most effective way to achieve a Treaty objective, but where a national parliament would strenuously object to the proposal because it infringes national sovereignty. If a proposal were objectionable on grounds of sovereignty alone, neither the yellow nor the orange card procedures would be available to national parliaments."
The report quotes Andrew Duff MEP, who told the Committee: "there is a danger that, in assessing the Treaty of Lisbon, national parliaments become obsessed by the early warning mechanism on subsidiarity. It was understood by those of us involved in its drafting and, then re-drafting that the mechanism, although a necessary addition to the system of governance of the Union, was not really intended to be used. It is, in Bagehot's terms, more a dignified part of the European constitutional settlement than an efficient one." Richard Corbett MEP also told the Committee: "in practice, I do not think that the 'yellow' and 'orange' card mechanisms will be extensively used."
It's just a shame this damning opinion on the sham that is the Lisbon Treaty's so-called new provisions for national parliaments wasn't released in time to have an impact on the UK ratification of the Treaty.