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National Parliaments (EUC Report) — Motion to Take Note

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 6:11 pm on 15th December 2014.

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Photo of Lord Boswell of Aynho Lord Boswell of Aynho Chair, European Union Committee, Principal Deputy Chairman of Committees 6:11 pm, 15th December 2014

A treaty—I would be subject to advice—is, of course, concluded between member states and, although it is part of the constitution, it is not, by itself, part of the legislation. I think that if there were a widespread demand for a change in the treaty for good reason, that could certainly be taken forward as part of the political dialogue.

To return to COSAC, we met in Rome earlier this month and there was widespread support for a green card and a very positive attitude. More meetings are planned in the new year, at which we will explore in detail how a green card procedure might work in practice. We are also looking at other ways to encourage upstream dialogue between national parliaments and European policymakers. In particular, we need to focus more on scrutinising the Commission’s work programme. We know that President Juncker has promised a more politically responsive work programme, focusing on growth and jobs. We need to be engaged in developing and realising this. That means we need to be more agile, talking to the Commission, responding to consultations, building up alliances with colleagues in other national parliaments and the European Parliament, keeping in touch with our own Government, of course, and undertaking forward-looking inquiries.

Reconnecting the European Union with its citizens is not going to be easy. Nor is it going to be easy, over coming months, to defend the United Kingdom’s continuing role in the European Union. I believe passionately that finding practical ways to enhance the role of national parliaments—which are, by definition, close to their citizens—is an important component in our response to both these challenges. We need a new approach and a new way of working jointly with our partners. I and my colleagues on the European Union Committee will do our part, but I also look to Her Majesty’s Government to lead by example. They must show, by diligently respecting the scrutiny process as it affects the two Houses of this Parliament, that they genuinely embrace the involvement of Parliament in European Union law-making. This is now less a time for words and more a time for effective action. I beg to move.