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Friday, May 17, 2013

This is welcome stuff: David Lidington says national parliaments could be given a 'red card' over EU proposals

National Parliaments' should be allowed
to show the EU the red card
This is an idea that's very close to our hearts - and an idea that we have promoted for a very long time.

The first bits of UK Europe Minister David Lidington's interview with German daily Die Welt have just been published on the paper's webpage. We'll have to wait until tomorrow to see the full version. But from what we can see so far, Lidington's interview is likely to reverberate quite a bit across Europe.

He said,
"Perhaps we should lower the threshold for national parliaments to take action against initiatives from Brussels; perhaps we should introduce the principle of a 'red card' so that a given number of national parliaments can block initiatives from the [European] Commission."
Sounds familiar? Well, the 'red card' was first advocated by Open Europe in 2011 in our report 'The case for European Localism'. And again by Lidington's PPS Tobias Ellwood MP in a publication for Open Europe in December 2012, where he argued:
"Any future [EU] Treaty change should include some system of the red card system with the right quota and powers."
A red card is an improvement over a yellow
Open Europe's Director Mats Persson pushed the idea in the Telegraph here in January. Under the Lisbon Treaty, if a third of national parliaments show the Commission the current 'yellow card', the Commission is obliged to reconsider its proposal and explain why it wants to change it, scrap it or push ahead with it. To date, the Commission has withdrawn a proposal in only one case after being shown the 'yellow card' - the so-called 'Monti II' Regulation on the right to strike.

However, this provision has several weaknesses. First, it doesn't oblige the Commission to actually drop the proposal, but only to reconsider it. So it's a far cry from a veto. Secondly, it's only supposed to happen on 'subsidiarity' grounds - and not on 'proportionality'. Thirdly, a third of parliaments are supposed to agree within an eight-week window, meaning that if the Commission tables a proposal in August or September - when most parliaments are in recess - it can basically push ahead with anything.

In other words, it really doesn't do that much to close the EU's infamous democratic deficit. Nor to strengthen the powers of national MPs - an aspect which, as we've argued repeatedly, is absolutely vital if the EU is to regain democratic legitimately.

Therefore, a 'red card' provision giving a certain number of national parliaments acting in unison (the threshold needs to be discussed) an actual veto right, would be an absolutely massive improvement. This is also an area where the UK will have support from Germany and others if it pitches it right.

In the interview, Lidington also pointed out that several times in the past,
"the content of [EU] treaties has been interpreted in a way which was not desired or expected at the time the treaty changes were decided on. Sometimes, the European Commission or the European Parliament try to expand the boundaries of their competences." 
The Europe Minister also stressed that the EU's single market for services is "painfully underdeveloped". echoing similar remarks on the importance of deepening the single market before. However, this time they come after he said that Open Europe's proposals to reignite the EU's services sector and boost EU-wide GDP by up to €294bn were "interesting" and "worth exploring".

More please!


Anonymous said...

I see where they and you are coming from, but obviously all the bureaucracy would still cost money and pass garbage laws.

It is clearly more convenient, better and cheaper to be outside of the EU and copy only the good moves of the EU (that is, none, which means huge savings in everything).

Rik said...

A bit too cosmetic imho.

The way things are now going is that the EU will simply be just another layer od government. And one thing the economy (for starters) need is more (and more expensive) government.

It is simply beyond moronic to have an extra layer of government while it costs a lot and basically makes things inefficient and much more expensive. While at the same time giving rise to a lot of irritation with local populations.
You move powers to Brussels and cut them in eg Westminster (or approx. the other way around).

In other words the system needs a complete overhaul first and a coherent/logical set up with that, before you start with things like red or yellow cards.

For the UK, as I see it, I would say that the EP is practically useless anyway.
Most likely the population want to reduce the EU to a freetrade zone plus (may be with Customs union and some other trade stuff).
You donot need a parliament to oversee that.

The issues are way too technical to start with. The other main issue clearly the EP lacks this technical knowledge and clearly shows that about once a week or so.
And anyway the EP completely lacks legitimacy (not only in the UK btw). May be not in a legal sense, but clearly in a social/political sense (and that is what counts. Legal sytems are only legitimised if they are carried by a sufficiently big platform in the local population (plus a few other things of course).
For the UK it looks very simple. People donot feel represented by it (most even donot know the name of the European party they voted for, turn out is usually appalling as well. The only MEPs that are known by the general public are the ones that are EU-sceptic (at best) and for that reason). It is difficult to see if a lot of powers will be brought back (either by a reneg or an out if the reneg fails) that would improve.

So Cameron will have to find a way to make that work in the reneg. Which will of course be a difficult one with a multi-tier EU that is likely to develop. Anyway an EP that can block 'UK things' will be a hard sell and so will an EP that can legislate things that are not carried by the the UKs population overall.

Anonymous said...

Absolutely no interest in this whatsoever.

The EU is about as functional as a chocolate fireguard and, more to the point, do we trust Europe's politicians and our own politicians to look after the UK's interests?

Clearly that is a NO.

Referendum now.


Rik said...

2 or 4 years is short in European legislation terms (for a referendum). Imho you should keep that more in mind with things.

No new legislation should basically be approved by the UK if not either benificial in a new set up (like your service-directive) or simplifies things (what it hardly ever does).

See things more in the context of the renegotiation. Of course most likely an EP will remain but what is its role in relation to the UK. EPs role should in that Respect by redefined. And not only in that respect. credibility/representation are a few others.

There is of course a possibility that there will not be a referendum. Possible if Cameron, or better the Conservatives donot make it. However for this one I one time agree with Mr Clegg it is more a when than if issue. Clegg and Mr Ed jr are now coming under electoral pressure see how they cope. Anyway a whole new set up is a very likely scenario (either via a successful reneg or an exit).

And see even the 'As it is' scenario more in the light of a referendum.

Flexibility is the key it gives options. Should work in both cases. And new legislation mostly will not work in case of a reneg/exit.
Should not make a reneg more complicated as it already is by creating more legislation. And spend alot of time on that. Priority now seems to me to get a proper inventory (plus concept/ rough ideas) ready.

Anonymous said...

Red cards are useless in the hands of cowards and future EUSSR gravy train riders in the UK Parliament.

Besides, sovereignty should be all the red card a nation needs.

christina speight said...

We've moved on from playing games. Besides Liddington is part of the discredited Cameroon ring who talk big and achieve precisely nothing.

The credibility of our government on Europe is Zero and the idea that they would protect us - the people - in any way is derisory. I don't thing the editorial team of Open Europe gets away enough from the Westminster village. There's a new game afoot

Denis Cooper said...


"perhaps we should introduce the principle of a 'red card' so that a given number of national parliaments can block initiatives from the [European] Commission."

To hell with that transnational nonsense; our national Parliament is sovereign and I want it to have its own red card, aka "a veto".

I don't really care whether other national parliaments also have their own red cards, that's up to them.

christina speight said...

Spot on, Denis, Tghe rest must look after themselves - WE, rthe British, want our country back and want an overall veto.