Tweede Kamer (House of Representatives)
Every year the Dutch House of Representatives (Tweede Kamer) closely examines and discusses the European Commission’s Work Programme, which lists the legislative and strategic proposals to be published in the year to come. Subsequently, the House of Representatives draws up a list of Commission proposals it wants to pay special attention to. All standing committees select the proposals related to their policy area, which they would like to see prioritized. The final list of the 2012 prioritized proposals was discussed by the standing committee on European Affairs and approved in a plenary sitting of the House on 6 February 2012.
The prioritized proposals will be scrutinized by the House of Representatives upon publication by the European Commission. This list does not prevent other proposals from being added and scrutinized in the course of the year.
Eerste Kamer (Senate)
According to the replies of the Dutch Eerste Kamer to the questionnaire for the 13th Bi-annual Report of COSAC (May 2010):
"A) REVIEW OF REGULATIONS ADOPTED
1. Have there been any regulations adopted by your Member State in order to incorporate the new powers that are entrusted to the national Parliaments by the Treaty of Lisbon? If so, please specify the regulations in their corresponding categories.
1a. Constitutional provisions
1b. Legal provisions - Statutory provisions
Parliamentary ratification of the Lisbon Treaty was effectuated through a Bill of Assent (Rijkswet tot goedkeuring van het Verdrag van Lissabon (Stb. 2008 – 301)). It also specifies powers of Parliament in relation to government regarding the use of a parliamentary reserve.
1c. Parliamentary Standing Orders
When a process of reflection on Europe was completed in the Senate in June 2009, it was decided to adopt a new procedure on the European policy and legislative process. This procedure took effect at the start of the 2009-2010 parliamentary year. It includes comprehensive guidelines for the scrutiny of European legislative proposals (see also the answers to questions 1b, and 1c. in part B). In addition, the Senate has recently adopted procedures for the use of a parliamentary reserve (in relation to the government’s position in the Council).
B) THE NEW POWERS OF THE NATIONAL PARLIAMENTS IN THE EU DECISION MAKING PROCESS
The following questions focus on each of the different mechanisms through which the national Parliaments are called to participate in the EU framework. The questions relate to the main elements of the proceedings that, according to the national regulations that have been passed or that are foreseen to be adopted soon, will carry out in each national Parliament the mechanisms established in the Treaties."
"1. MONITORING THE ACTIVITIES OF THE EU INSTITUTIONS
1a. Please indicate if the monitoring includes all the activities of all the EU institutions. If not, please specify which activities and which institutions will be subject to monitoring (e.g. only legislative proposals from the Commission).
Legislative proposals from the Commission are routinely scrutinised, in addition to member states’ initiatives.
1b. Please indicate if the monitoring is comprehensive or applies selectively to certain topics or questions of particular national interest.
As soon as the Annual Legislative and Work Programme becomes available, it is put on the agenda in all committees of the Senate. Each committee is asked to indicate which proposals that come within its remit should be scrutinised by parliament. The committee should therefore designate the priority dossiers. As soon as all committees have notified their ‘own’ priority dossiers, these files are entered in a single list – the annual European Work Programme of the Senate. This list will be placed on the agenda of the Committee of Senior Members of the Senate (the chairs of the parliamentary groups) for forwarding for adoption by the Senate in plenary session. It is up to the committees to determine whether they wish to scrutinise – and consequently place on the list – a (proposal for a) directive, regulation, decision, Green Paper, White Paper or any other European document.
In addition, all members have the opportunity to indicate on the basis of the so-called ‘List of new European proposals’ – which is presented to the members weekly – in the committee concerned that they wish to have a proposal put on the committee’s agenda. If the committee concerned will not meet that week, a member may also ask the staff of the committee to have the proposal put on the agenda of the next committee meeting. A European proposal that is being dealt with on the basis of the List of New European proposals by a committee is not included in the list of priority files – the Senate’s European Work Programme (see above).
1c. Briefly describe the procedure and specify the parliamentary bodies involved.
The procedure for dealing with European proposals in the Senate is organised as far as possible in keeping with the procedure for dealing with draft national legislation (bills).
The first time that a European proposal appears on a committee’s agenda the ‘procedure’ is discussed, just as in the case of a national bill. If a European proposal has been classified by the committee as priority (and thus included in the Senate’s European Work Programme) it is automatically put on the committee’s agenda for discussion of the procedure. If the committee decides that it does not wish to consider a European proposal, it ‘takes note’ of the proposal, thereby completing the procedure.
If the committee decides that it does wish to consider a European proposal, it adopts the same procedure in practice as in the case of national bills. The committee decides to undertake a ‘preliminary scrutiny’ and proposes a date for a submissions meeting for the purpose of written consultations with the government. When European proposals are scrutinised, there is one additional possibility: the subsidiarity check. The 8-week period applies in cases where a committee wishes to send a reasoned opinion to the European Commission. If a committee decides to complete its consideration of a proposal in discussions with the Dutch government and rely on the government’s own efforts, including any objections regarding the subsidiarity of the proposal, it is not bound by the 8-week period, and neither is it bound by this period if it wishes to correspond with the European Commission regarding the substance of the proposal. When putting a European proposal on the agenda, a committee should therefore decide as quickly as possible whether 1) there may be subsidiarity objections and, if so, 2) whether it wishes to submit an opinion to the European Commission. The committee may also decide to adopt a twin-track approach, i.e. submit subsidiarity objections and/or substantive questions/comments to the European Commission and (substantive) questions/objections to the Dutch government.
1d. Do the regulations establish the Government's duty to report to the Parliament / Chamber? If so, in which terms?
The government is required to submit an appreciation of legislative proposals within six weeks of their publication and to provide any information Parliament requests.
1e. In bicameral Parliaments, could you describe the mechanisms for information exchange and coordination between both Chambers?
Specialised committees in the Senate liaise with sister committees in the House of Representatives when selecting proposals from the Legislative and Work programme.
Furthermore, any subsidiarity objections of a committee are passed to the committee of the House of Representatives responsible for policy on the issue in question, with a request to consider whether it shares the view of the Senate and whether the two chambers of the States General should possibly send a joint letter to the European Commission. The reaction of the House of Representatives committee is then discussed in a subsequent committee meeting in the Senate. If necessary, consultations can be held with the House of Representatives committee and, if desirable, a joint letter can be drafted to the European Commission. Such a letter has to be adopted in a plenary session. However, the Senate committee may decide during its consideration of a proposal that it will send a letter on behalf of the Senate alone (signed by the President of the Senate) to the European Commission.
1f. Please briefly describe the administrative and advisory resources and support available for the task of monitoring the EU institutions.
The standing committee on European Cooperation Organisations is supported by one clerk and two specialists. The standing committee on the Justice and Home Affairs Council is supported by one clerk and one specialist. Committee staff of the other committees are each responsible for monitoring developments at the European level for their respective committees."
"2. ENSURING COMPLIANCE WITH THE PRINCIPLE OF SUBSIDIARITY
2a. Please specify the Parliamentary bodies in charge of ensuring such compliance.
Subsidiarity checks are performed by both the House of Representatives and the Senate. Within the Senate every specialised committee is involved in this process.
2b. Briefly describe the procedures involved.
See the answers to questions 1b. and 1c."
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