Stanley's blog

The German Constitutional Court judgment is likely to provoke parliaments in other Member States to seek ways of controlling their governments when acting in the EU Council. Were they all to choose the Danish model, the consequences for Council negotiations would be dramatic.

There is a need anyway for national parliaments to buy in to the EU process and to play a much more active role. Unfortunately, MPs have shown little interest and MEPs do not always make them welcome.

What then is the solution?

Conscientious MPS are overworked. A way needs to be found to make it directly worth their while. I was one of three rapporteurs for the project which began in early 2008 but was prematurely terminated by the European Parliament for internal bureaucratic reasons. The principles of this aborted project could well carry the seeds of a long term solution.

An intranet site would both enable MPs and MEPs to share information and knowledge about the European, and MPs to share information and knowledge about what they are themselves doing at the national level.

The intranet would include a forum for the exchange of ideas and debate. was multilingual, enabling participation by the MPs of all 27 Member States.

MPs would have easy access to what is happening in the European Parliament and would enable MPs to help each other, eg by obtaining information on what has been done or is being done in other national parliaments on the same subject.

From the point of view of MPs, their visibility, credibility and reputation would be increased, as well as enabling them to contribute to EU legislation…

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  1. Stanley,

    the German Constitutional Court shows also another exit road for an advancement of the European Union. The limitations to German government officials acting as national representatives in Brussels set by its jugdement are a logical consequence of the non-state charakter of the (Lisbon-) EU which ist mostly derived from formal criteria. We all know that the differences to the former European Constitution are only marginal. Had the Court considered the EU as defined by the treaty of Lisbon a federal state, ratification had not passed due to infringement of fundamental democracy guarrantees in the German Basic Law introduced after the Third Reich experience (rightly so).

    The EU has still the option of setting up a proper European Constitution which respects those guarrantees, based on the 18th/19th/20th century painful and blood-soaked experience all over Europe, and create a proper federal state with no tricks, preferably one that leaves a very reasonable amount of competences to its member states. The sheer size and variety of cultures of the EU means also there a natural limits to democratic centralisation. Such a reasonable, not-power drunken democratic constitution may also win the necessary votes of its peoples. However the time may not be ready for this.

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  2. What about regional parliaments controling the state parliaments controling its governments?

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  3. The only thing that the judgement of the BVerfG is going to achieve, at best, is a sense of amazement at the feeble intellectual capacities of its members. At worst, it will create the impression that Germany is seeking to dictate the direction of European integration.

    One definition of the ‘democratic deficit’ is “the inability of national parliaments to control what their governments decide in the Council of Ministers”. This is a national not a European problem. If Germany is foolish enough to emulate the Danes, it will replace the executive authority of the Federal Government of Germany for conducting relations with other Member States within the EU with that of the Bundestag. This will mean that Germany will be unable to negotiate effectively. I doubt that it will happen.

    With all due respect, also deserved its fate for this very reason. It is not possible to involve national parliaments by the back door, despite the provisions of the Lisbon Treaty. Either you cede authority to your government to act or you do not. There is no halfway house.

    This is a central element of the Community method and the triangular decision-making relationship between the Commission, Council and European Parliament. The BVerfG seems to be unaware of its very existence, the cornerstone of European construction.

    On the BVerfJ cf. also attached.

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