Int'l Relations

European Union

A. NATIONAL PARLIAMENTS AND THE EU

Since the very start of the European Integration, M-S have identified the need for setting common principles concerning national parliaments’ information and contribution. Today, national parliaments are not limited to EU legislation ratification and occasional exercise of parliamentary control over their governments in forming European policy. The call for national parliaments’ timely and substantial information concerning decisions made in the context of Councils of Ministers, as well as concerning the European Commission’s legislative program, in order to be able to formulate views and express opinions on EU policies and activities, has taken on new dimensions in EU current affairs.

During the last twenty years, the role of national parliaments within the EU has been substantially strengthened through debates, dealing with the democratic deficit and EU Treaty processing.

Since 1989 members of national parliaments and of the European parliament have regular sessions every six months in the frame of the COSAC, with the aim of exchanging information and best practices.

The 2007 Lisbon Treaty is a cornerstone regarding the role of national parliaments in the European integration process; for the first time, a whole article is dedicated to national parliaments, also setting the basis for interparliamentary cooperation development with the purpose of coordinated scrutiny over European policies and legislation.  More specifically, Article 12 of the Treaty on European Union has integrated all provisions regarding national parliaments, previously dispersed in various founding treaties:

“National Parliaments contribute actively to the good functioning of the Union:

(a) through being informed by the institutions of the Union and having draft legislative acts of the Union forwarded to them in accordance with the Protocol on the role of national Parliaments in the European Union;

(b) by seeing to it that the principle of subsidiarity is respected in accordance with the procedures provided for in the Protocol on the application of the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality;

(c) by taking part, within the framework of the area of freedom, security and justice, in the evaluation mechanisms for the implementation of the Union policies in that area, in accordance with Article 61 C of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, and through being involved in the political monitoring of Europol and the evaluation of Eurojust's activities in accordance with Articles 69 G and 69 D of that Treaty;

(d) by taking part in the revision procedures of the Treaties, in accordance with Article 48 of this Treaty;

(e) by being notified of applications for accession to the Union, in accordance with Article 49 of this Treaty;

(f) by taking part in the inter-parliamentary cooperation between national Parliaments and with the European Parliament, in accordance with the Protocol on the role of national Parliaments in the European Union.”

B. THE HELLENIC PARLIAMENT AND THE EU

Legislative work, Parliamentary Control and Community Legislation

The Hellenic Parliament’s legislative work concerning EU matters is not limited to Treaty ratification and adopting legislation required for transposing community law into national legislation.

The Hellenic Parliament is informed on EU draft legislation (HP Standing Orders, article 41B), also having the right to deliver an Opinion on EU regulatory acts, either at the level of committees (HP Standing Orders, article 41B, paragraph c) or at the level of Plenary (HP Standing Orders, article 41B, paragraph d), in line with provisions of Protocol 2 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. In exercising its legislative competences, the Hellenic Parliament takes into consideration adopted Community legislation: draft law submitted to the Plenary for debate and vote must be accompanied by an explanatory memorandum referring to- inter alia-relevant community law provisions.

Parliamentary scrutiny over EU matters

The Hellenic Parliament closely follows and monitors the overall EU course and developments, as well as community law implementation through exercising parliamentary control. Further to regular parliamentary control means (questions, interpellations, current questions, applications for submission of documents etc), the Committee for European Affairs, in the frame of its competences, as well as other Standing Committees, on issues within their scope of interest, have the right to invite members of the Government to inform them on consultations’ or negotiations’ course and developments taking place in the frame of Councils of Ministers or the European Council.

Parliamentary Debates conducted on Greece’s course within the EU

Debates conducted “outside the order of business” at the level of heads of political parties are an important step concerning discussion on issues of a European nature. As stipulated in Article 143 of the Hellenic Parliament Standing Orders “During each Parliamentary Session, it is mandatory to conduct 7 debates “outside the order of business”. One of these has to be raised by the Government, one by the President of Parliament and the rest (5) by the Opposition. The subject of debate raised by the Government must refer to the country’s course within the European Union ….”