L COSAC discusses offering national Parliaments the right of legislative initiative

30 October 2013, Last updated at, 11:00 EEST
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Hans Gert Pöttering, former President of the European Parliament. | author: O. Posaškova

Participants of the anniversary 50th COSAC meeting in the Seimas focused on democratic legitimacy of the European Union and the role of national Parliaments of EU Member States.

In his address at the Conference, Hans Gert Pöttering, former President of the European Parliament, MEP, noted that the EU had the right to act and reinforce democracy at the same time. “We should not forget that no democratic country in the world, regardless of the complexity of its internal architecture, is comparable to the EU with a population of 500 million and 28 Member States. Such a complex democracy cannot be found anywhere else. Our Member States have different identities and live under differing agendas. This creates the need for us to be patient, listen to each other and understand each other; accordingly, the willingness to compromise is essential in debates on the future. This highlights the crucial importance of dialogue and democratic participation in the EU,” former President of the European Parliament said and highlighted that the EU’s values were still very strong. He also emphasised the importance of local government where the democratic process de facto begins.

In reference to Ukraine and signing of the Association Agreement, Mr Pöttering said that Ukraine’s rapprochement with the EU would be a historic event. “However, Ukraine should be aware that we will not compromise our values. Legal instruments should not be used in a political debate and political opponents should not be imprisoned. But, of course, we will try to achieve the best possible outcome as far as Ukraine is concerned,” he said.

Eva Kjer Hansen, Chair of the Committee on European Affairs of the Danish Parliament, reviewed the current challenges faced by Parliaments in Europe and argued that democratic accountability and legitimacy were becoming increasingly important. In her opinion, national Parliaments should play a leading role, as the EU is becoming increasingly more complex and gets increasingly involved in national affairs. In addition, the national Parliaments should work with a European dimension in mind.

During the event, Mr Pöttering and Ms Hansen, joined by Dominic Hannigan, Chairman of the Joint Committee on European Union Affairs of the Houses of the Oireachtas of Ireland, discussed the opportunities of granting national Parliaments the right to legislative initiative.

According to Ms Hansen, the very right to block certain legislative proposals if they violate the principle of subsidiarity is not sufficient. “We need to become active players who directly contribute to the construction of Europe. For this, we do not need to create new European institutions. The national Parliaments need new measures so that we act as democratic institutions in a more integrated financial, budgetary and economic policy framework in Europe,” the Chair of the European Affairs Committee of the Folketing said.

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