Select Committee on European Union Eleventh Report

PART 1: introduction

1.  The Convention on the Future of Europe is examining, among other matters, the role of national parliaments in the European Union and the principle of subsidiarity. These issues are important not least because of concerns that the European Union is disconnected from its citizens; and because of a sense that national parliaments have a role to play in solving this problem. Our Committee has been keeping the work of the Convention under review and as part of that ongoing scrutiny we examine here the role of national parliaments in the European Union; and the question of subsidiarity.

2.  The purpose of this report is to examine the proposals concerning national parliaments and subsidiarity which are being discussed in the Convention. We do so with reference to several reports on the EU and national parliaments including two reports from the Convention itself: the report of the Working Group on the role of National Parliaments;[1] and that of the Working Group on Subsidiarity.[2] We also refer to the proposed Protocols on national parliaments and subsidiarity issued by the Convention's Praesidium[3]. Secondly, the House of Commons European Scrutiny Committee has produced a report on 'Democracy and Accountability in the EU and the Role of National Parliaments',[4] and another on 'European Scrutiny in the Commons'.[5] We ourselves have recently published a 'Review of Scrutiny of European Legislation'[6].

3.  This report also examines, and attempts to explain, the concept of subsidiarity and the role that national parliaments can play in this regard. This topic is covered in Part 3 below. We intend to produce separate reports on the Convention's proposed Treaty Articles[7]; CFSP and defence; and the Convention's proposals for a Social Europe.

4.  We have not taken extensive evidence, as the primary purpose of this report is to draw together existing material. We did, however, hear from Gisela Stuart MP, a member of the Convention's Praesidium and chair of the Working Group on National Parliaments. We are very grateful to Ms Stuart for making herself available to us on this occasion, as she and the other UK national parliamentarians on the Convention have done before. A transcript of her evidence is printed with this report. We make this report to the House for information although we hope that the House will soon have a further opportunity for another debate on the Convention and that this report would inform any such debate.

1   CONV 353/02. Back

2   CONV/286/02. Back

3   CONV 579/03, printed in Appendix 2.  Back

4   33rd Report of session 2001-02, HC 152-xxxiii-I. Back

5   30th Report of session 2001-02, HC 152-xxx. Back

6   1st Report of session 2002-03, HL Paper 15 - awaiting debate. Back

7   The first such report has been published, on Articles 1-16 (9th Report, HL Paper 61, 25th February). Back

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