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Friday, November 01, 2013

'Green card', 'Late card': Dutch parliament ups the ante in EU democracy debate

We already knew that the Dutch parliament is a legislature that takes 'subsidiarity' seriously. But now it has really come out swinging.

In today's press summary, we reported on a recently published position paper on the role of national parliaments in the EU from the Tweede Kamer - the lower house of the Dutch parliament - and it includes some seriously good ideas to increase national parliaments' power over EU decisions (the report available in English here, though the translation is a bit awkward).

Amongst plenty of good ideas, building on the current 'yellow card' for national parliaments, there are two key proposals that would substantially bolster the role of national parliaments:
  • A 'Green card': This new mechanism would allow national parliaments to propose new policies to the European Commission, including the amendment or repeal of existing EU laws. This would make national parliaments 'agenda-setters' in the EU decision-making process, as opposed to the current situation in which they can only react to proposals originating in Brussels. At present, only the Commission can make proposals to scrap EU laws.
  • The 'Late card': This would give national parliaments the right to object to proposals at the end of negotiations between the European Commission, the Council of Ministers and MEPs. At the moment, national parliaments can only examine a proposal when the Commission has tabled it. However, the final product can often look completely different. For example, the bankers' bonus cap was introduced by MEPs and wasn't in the version of the proposal on capital requirements national parliaments received from the European Commission.
Dutch MPs also want to beef up the existing 'yellow card' system - whereby a minimum of one third of national parliaments can force the European Commission to reconsider a proposal if they think the proposal violates the subsidiarity principle. Since the Lisbon Treaty introduced the yellow card, it has only been triggered twice - most recently this week.

The Tweede Kamer proposes three ways to boost the yellow card - all of which are excellent:
  • Extend the period during which parliaments can object - at the moment national parliaments only have eight weeks from the date a proposal is published to submit their objections.
  • Broadening the grounds upon which parliaments can object to EU laws to proportionality and the legal base of the proposal (the latter is incredibly important). 
  • Lowering the threshold for the number of parliaments required to activate the yellow card - they don't provide the 'magic number', but the Dutch report complains that it is always the same group of parliaments that raise objections.
The report also tries to address the important question of how to get national MPs to work more closely together and so act as a counterweight to the Commission's and the European Parliament's centralising tendencies.

It doesn't, however, propose  a new 'red card' system to empower national parliaments to veto unwanted EU proposals - which we have long argued for. However, on the whole, this is a massively welcome contribution to the debate.

We look forward to the UK Parliament throwing its full weight behind these ideas.


Rik said...

Effectivelt Wilders is the main ally for Cameron in Holland.
Of course you do not want to be seen with the guy in public, but he is the one that put the pressure on the Dutch system re the relation of seperate countries with the EU.
Cameron's number 2 ally in Holland are their Socialists. By effectively doing a 'Geert Wilders' but on the left.

Wilders and the Socialists are putting pressure on the traditional pro-European parties to change and to look more at their own country (or get their backsides whipped at the next election).
The reason the Dutch are moving much faster than the Germans is probably mainly caused by the fact that there is a realistic Euro-sceptic opposition in Holland and hardly one in Germany. We still have to see how things develop overthere.

Look at this weekend poll at peil.nl, the present 2 governing parties are losing and mainly to these populist 2.

This is very unlikely to change the coming years. The 3 main points on the political agenda all over Europe are:
-EU and the national relation therewith.
And these issues are all interconnected. Plus look awful from an EU PR perspective, simply a PR nightmare in the making.
The EU (Euro) determines the economy for a large part. As I see it we will get more pressure from that angle as it will become more clear that non-Euro countries will do better than Euro countries. A thing that from the start of the crisis was clear in the South but now also becomes more clear in the North. Only Germany with its rather unique economy has obscured that issue.
Immigration from the EUs own 3rd world with all social and economic tensions etc.
Especially Wilders has seen that clearly and has the combination of economy/Europe/immigration as has main selling point.
In that respect when Cameron brings up a point in the UK, it is likely beneficial to assure it gets media attention in countries like Holland.
It is likely to be picked up by the likes of Wilders and get even more media attention overthere because of that. Subsequently the local electorate will like it, polls will react.
And because of that the pressure is turned on (on the traditional parties) and these will have to react or get hit in the next election.

The populist right (like Wilders) is a more likely ally for Cameron as it puts most of its pressure on the traditional right parties. These are the ones more likely to see the solution for the current EU mess (eg lack of sufficient platform) in Cameronesque measures.
Lefties probably will go for more state (and a lot of it). Not that that is in anyway likely to work, but that hasnot stopped them before.

Denis Cooper said...

"Since the Lisbon Treaty introduced the yellow card, it has only been triggered twice - most recently this week."

And a yellow card having been triggered last week, the Commission promptly said that they intended to ignore it:


"National parliaments opposed to creating an EU-wide prosecutor want the European Commission to rework its flagship proposal, but EU officials say it is likely to go ahead.

Chambers in 11 national parliaments got enough votes to trigger a so-called “yellow card” procedure when they filed their complaints to Brussels earlier this week."

"An EU official told this website that: "Formally, the number of votes was reached to trigger the yellow card procedure."

But they added: "It is the commission that decides if there has been a yellow card or not and what would be the consequences.""

What we need is a national veto on each and every EU proposal, and nothing less than that will do.

Aspinall.wordpress.com said...

Interesting observations on your "card" system.

Another important opportunity to exercise some control over EU legislative proposals would be when the Commission publishes its annual work programme.

Member States could at that time indicate that they have no intention of allowing such proposals to be made. This would save considerable time in the Commission, in the consultation process with stakeholders, the European Parliament and Council.

If you added up the actual cost of an EU legislative scrutiny process that never finally emerged or was more to the point not wanted there would be considerable added value.

Wilfred Aspinall
Former Member
European Economic and Social Committee

Anonymous said...

Another pointless attempt to try to show the eussr has an iota of democracy the commission rejects a yellow card just as it rejected the million strong petition which should have autonatically sprung the debate on closing the strasbourg parliament building permanently.