01 Feb 2011

Paper tigers or sleeping beauties? National Parliaments in the post-Lisbon European Political System

Piotr Maciej Kaczyński

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There remains a degree of uncertainty about the role of national parliaments in the European system of governance under the rules of the Treaty of Lisbon. The legion of 10,000 national parliamentarians should guard the principle of subsidiarity in EU legislation, which now constitutes about one quarter of all laws adopted in member states. Confusion arises over how many of the new post-Lisbon prerogatives belong to individual national chambers, and how many require a collective response. Until the ‘collective’ voice is organised effectively, national parliaments will remain ‘paper tigers’ in the EU decision-making process. The national chambers’ powers could have far-reaching consequences, however, as one of their roles is to contribute to the ‘good governance’ of the European Union. Even though the readiness of national chambers to engage actively in EU affairs is limited, it is on the increase, albeit disproportionately.