September 7, 2009
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.
Danish ministers, before attending EU Council meetings, require a negotiating mandate from the Europe Committee of the Folketing (parliament) on EU policy questions “of a major importance”. In practice, almost all legal documents are submitted to the committee, prior to their adoption. The committee meets weekly and has a substantial, well qualified, secretariat.
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 myparl.eu 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 enable MPs and MEPs to share information and knowledge about the European, and also enable MPs to share information and knowledge about what they are themselves doing at the national level.
The intranet could include a forum for the exchange of ideas and debate.
Myparl.eu was multilingual, enabling participation by the MPs of all 27 Member States.
MPs would have had easy access to what is happening in the European Parliament and would have enabled 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 an MP’s point of view, Myparl would have increased his/her visibility, credibility and reputation, and facilitate their input to EU legislation.
Myparl had the firm support of EP President Hans-Gert Pöttering and Commission Information Vice President, Margot Wallström. It is therefore recommended that Myparl be dusted down and be reintroduced, adapted in the light of experience.
A similar networking site for congressmen and women is being launched in the US this autumn.
Politicians need to recognize that new technologies can help communication and policy-making, and have the courage to open their debates beyond mainly elite circles.Author : Stanley Crossick