Tuesday, 26 May 2009

European Union: Council meetings (VI) National parliaments

The complexity of the European Union appears, when devising the (provisional) agendas of the Council meetings. Not only the national governments, but the national parliaments, require their periods of grace before certain items can be placed on the agenda.

Legislative procedures are time-consuming.


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Protocol on national parliaments


Protocol (No 9) on the role of national parliaments in the European Union lays down a system of scrutiny for the national parliaments (excerpt):


I. Information for national parliaments of Member States

1. All Commission consultation documents (green and white papers and communications) shall be promptly forwarded to national parliaments of the Member States.

2. Commission proposals for legislation as defined by the Council in accordance with Article 207(3) of the Treaty establishing the European Community, shall be made available in good time so that the government of each Member State may ensure that its own national parliament receives them as appropriate.

3. A six-week period shall elapse between a legislative proposal or a proposal for a measure to be adopted under Title VI of the Treaty on European Union being made available in all languages to the European Parliament and the Council by the Commission and the date when it is placed on a Council agenda for decision either for the adoption of an act or for adoption of a common position pursuant to Article 251 or 252 of the Treaty establishing the European Community, subject to exceptions on grounds of urgency, the reasons for which shall be stated in the act or common position.


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In other words, the national parliaments dispose of a six week period to make up their mind about a legislative proposal or a proposal relating to police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters.

Under the Lisbon Treaty, this period would be extended to eight weeks (Protocol No 1; Article 4).


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Council’s Rules of Procedure


The Council agenda has to observe this period. Only a unanimous decision on the grounds of urgency allows for an exception to be made:



Article 3(3) Council’s Rules of Procedure


3. Items relating to the adoption of an act or a common position on a legislative proposal or a proposal for a measure to be adopted under Title VI of the Treaty on European Union (hereinafter referred to as the EU Treaty) shall not be placed on the provisional agenda for a decision until the six-week period provided for in point 3 of the Protocol on the role of national parliaments in the European Union has elapsed.

The Council may unanimously derogate from the six-week period where the entry of an item is subject to the exception on grounds of urgency provided for in point 3 of that Protocol.




Ralf Grahn