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Jun212012

Models of scrutiny of EU matters in National Parliaments

Each national Parliament of the EU-27 has put in place scrutiny procedures to reinforce democratic control over EU matters and to ensure democratic accountability in EU decision-making process. However, there are considerable differences between the types of scrutiny systems that national Parliaments have established. This page offers an overview of the different processes by which national Parliaments scrutinise EU affairs, primarily based on the findings of the Third and the Eighth Bi-annual Reports of COSAC.


In most national Parliaments, the Committee on European Affairs is at the heart of the scrutiny procedure, though in a number of Parliaments sectoral/specialised committees also participate in the scrutiny process, typically by providing specialist advice to the Committees on European Affairs in early stages of the EU decision-making process. The arrangements adopted for detailed committee scrutiny in the 40 parliamentary Chambers of the 27 EU national Parliaments are to a great extent dependent on the type of scrutiny system chosen by each parliamentary Chamber. Some Chambers have chosen a “document based” system which focuses on the scrutiny of EU documents, while others have developed procedures which empower their Committees on European Affairs to give a direct mandate to their Governments before ministers can endorse legislation in the Council meetings. A small group of Parliaments have chosen more informal channels of influence. In practice, many systems can be seen as mixed, containing elements from both a “document based” and a mandating model.

 

Document-based systems

 

One widespread type of scrutiny system is the document-based model.  This system focuses on examining legislative proposals and other documents emanating from the EU institutions. The system does not in general focus on proceedings at individual Council meetings, nor does it systematically seek to mandate ministers formally or informally.

For more information please read:

Part 1.1 of the Eighth Bi-annual Report of COSAC

Part 2.1 of the Third Bi-annual Report of COSAC

 

Mandating systems

 

Mandating or Procedural systems focus on the process of EU decision-making rather than on an individual document emanating from the EU institutions. The principal subject of scrutiny is often the national government's position in the Council. This system includes in some cases a power of the Committee on European Affairs to give a direct mandate to a government before a minister can endorce legislation in Council meetings. 

For more information please read:

Part 1.2 of the Eighth Bi-annual Report of COSAC

Part 2.2 of the Third Bi-annual Report of COSAC

 

Mixed systems and other scrutiny systems

 

Mixed systems combine elements of both a document-based and a mandating/procedural system (combined with a power to mandate the government).

Some national Parliaments have adopted other systems which do not really fall into either of the two main categories of system. This group of scrutiny systems is quite heterogeneous, but it is characterised by the absence of a systematic examination of EU draft legislative acts and other EU documents.

For more information please read:

Part 1.3 of the Eighth Bi-annual Report of COSAC

Part 2.3 of the Third Bi-annual Report of COSAC