Reforming the European Scrutiny System in the House of Commons - European Scrutiny Committee Contents

Annex 2

Member State Role of competent committee(s) in EU scrutiny Scrutiny reserve? Transparency: Availability of committee documents/Meetings in public or private
AustriaNational Council:

Main Committee on European Affairs considers position of the Government prior to meeting of the European Council. Decides on mandates on behalf of parliament. Can issue communications in the framework of the political dialogue. The Permanent Subcommittee on European Affairs can issue reasoned opinions regarding the principle of subsidiarity as well as mandates for the member of government responsible for the dossier. Can issue communications in the framework of the political dialogue.

Federal Council:

EU-Committee can issue reasoned opinions regarding the principle of subsidiarity as well as mandates for the member of government responsible for the dossier. Can issue communications in the framework of the political dialogue.

On 1 January 2012 the "EU Information Law" entered into force, which complements the existing obligation of the Austrian Government to inform the Parliament on EU matters. It has simplified access to EU documents by making the Council's extranet available to the Austrian Parliament, enhancing parliamentary scrutiny by establishing or formalising measures such as asking the Government to give "information on future EU projects" on a half-yearly basis.

For further information see Participation Rights of the Austrian Parliament, Austrian Parliament website.

Open meetings except when decided otherwise/discussing confidential material.
BelgiumJoint Federal Advisory Committee on European Affairs is Council oriented (House and Senate): meets with the Prime Minister in order to consider position of the government prior to each meeting of the European Council. In general, a debriefing with the Prime Minister follows the European Council meeting. The Committee also deals with the other aspects of the European decision making process (Commission work programme, EU presidencies, transposition of EU legislation.). It can also appoint rapporteurs on any European issue and adopt resolutions sent to the plenary.

Commission oriented (secretariat of the committee): (House) makes a preliminary review of all the proposals of European acts and other documents and determines what should be referred to the sectoral committees for further scrutiny. Prepares a note on the documents selected, which deals inter alia with compliance with the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality. The sectoral committees can adopt an opinion which is printed as a parliamentary document and sent to the European Commission and the European Parliament.

(Senate): follows the same procedure as the House, but the preparatory note is made by the EU Affairs Unit. Before sending an opinion to the European Commission, it must be confirmed by the plenary of the Senate.

(Regional assemblies): following the constitutional division of competencies in Belgium, the regional assemblies can adopt reasoned opinions concerning compliance with subsidiarity and proportionality. Via a cooperation agreement between the Belgian legislative assemblies, these opinions are "translated" into the two votes Belgium holds.

NoPublic access to meetings generally, and documents released into public domain.
BulgariaCommittee on European Affairs and Oversight of the European Funds — Basis of scrutiny is the annual working programme of the National Assembly on EU issues. Sectoral committees debate proposals and submit a report to the Committee. These reports are taken into account for the Committee's final report to the National Assembly. When a draft EU Act relates to foreign policy issues, the Committee holds a joint sitting with the Foreign Policy and Defence Committee.

For detail, see Bulgarian Parliament Rules of Procedure.

YesMeetings are generally open to public.
CroatiaThe European Affairs Committee is the central point for scrutiny and subsidiarity checks. Scrutiny is based on the Work Programme that the European Affairs Committee composes annually and contains draft European acts that are to be scrutinised. Specialised parliamentary Committees are involved in the scrutiny from the beginning of the process, as they may propose draft acts from their remit to be included in the Work Programme. Once the draft act in question, along with the corresponding Position of the Republic of Croatia is delivered to the Croatian Parliament, specialised committees may debate them and send their opinions to the European Affairs Committee. The latter, taking into consideration opinion(s) of specialised committees, than draws a Conclusion on the Position of the Republic of Croatia based on which the Government acts in the European institutions.

Subsidiarity checks are conducted in the European Affairs Committee but the process may be initiated by each Member of Parliament, parliamentary committee, parliamentary party group or the Government.

NoCommittee sessions opened to public unless decided otherwise by the committee in question.
CyprusScrutiny of EU documents in the Cyprus Parliament: Documents/legislative proposals sent by the EU institutions to the House are forwarded to the Standing Parliamentary Committee on Foreign and European Affairs and/or the competent sectoral Committee(s) depending on the subject matter. The said Committees may also invite a Minister/member of the executive to inform the Parliament on the position to be taken by the Government regarding any issue examined or to be examined at the EU level (Council of Ministers, European Council). Due to the clear separation of powers provided under the Cyprus Constitution, the Parliament cannot mandate the Government on any issue, but it may exert political pressure through the parliamentary control exercised over the actions of the executive, at both national and EU level.

Following the completion of the examination of the proposal at hand: (a) if the Committee on Foreign and European Affairs has conducted a subsidiarity check on the proposal a Report is compiled on whether the subsidiarity principle has been breached. If a reasoned opinion is adopted, it is forwarded to the President of the House of Representatives who signs a cover letter and sends the reasoned opinion to the EU institutions; (b) In cases where the Committee on Foreign and European Affairs and/or the competent sectoral Committee has examined only the substance of the matter at hand: if it is deemed necessary, an opinion is sent to the EU institutions in the framework of the political dialogue. Where the Parliament has important information to exchange, the outcome of the examination of the proposal is posted on IPEX. The Committee may re-examine the issue at a later stage.

Under the practice followed until now, only the Parliamentary Committee on Foreign and European Affairs conducts subsidiarity checks on EU legislative proposals.

NoLimited meetings in public.
Czech RepublicCommittee for European Affairs (Chamber of Deputies) — Deliberates on draft EU legislation and may relay such drafts accompanied by its opinion to other competent committees or to the plenary session. The Committee may request the relevant Government Minister to attend prior to the Council meeting; the Minister shall provide Members of Parliament with information on the position that the Czech Republic will adopt on the matter being deliberated in the Council. Opinions are not binding for the Government, although the Government must take them into account.

Committee for European Union Affairs (Senate) — The Committee deals with all EU policies regulated by the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU. The area of common foreign and security policy falls within the competence of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Security. Both Committees may ask specialized Committees to deliver their opinion. The Government is obliged to take the Senate's position into account and reports regularly on that.

For detailed information on the procedure, see the Chamber of Deputies Rules of Procedure.

YesMeetings are generally open to public, but may be private in certain circumstances.
DenmarkEuropean Affairs Committee — Ministers present all EU matters which the Government regards as being of considerable importance or of major significance. The EAC mandates the Government before it votes in the Council of Ministers, sometimes earlier (for various Committees) following developments in the EU decision making process. Has a system for subsidiarity check and new rules and procedures for involving the Danish standing committees. Also regular co-operation/meetings with Danish MEPs.

Danish parliamentary scrutiny of the EU has long been held to be highly effective, largely because the Folketing mandates the Government with regard to its action in the Council.[289] Daniel Finke and Marius Melzer[290] published a report called "Parliamentary Scrutiny of EU Law Proposals in Denmark: Why do Governments request a Negotiation Mandate?" February 2012.

YesMeetings held in public, unless otherwise decided. Meetings are televised on the Danish Parliament's TV channel as well as webstreamed.
EstoniaEuropean Union Affairs Committee — Government must present negotiating position to committee. Responsible for mandating government on basis of opinions of the specialised committees. The system is essentially document-based and operates through sectoral committees. YesNo public meetings, but minutes are published.
FinlandConstitution requires Government to keep Parliament informed on the preparation of EU matters. The Government must hear Parliament's views on EU initiatives and must explain and justify its policies. The Government's duty to submit EU matters to Parliament is limited to proposals whose effect is equivalent to a domestic Act of Parliament, and items specifically requested by Parliament. The Grand Committee (EU affairs Committee) takes the final position of the Parliament usually in line with the opinions from the sectoral committee(s). All sectoral Committees deal with EU matters. Legislative proposals and other EU initiatives are forwarded to the appropriate sectoral committee(s) for scrutiny and opinion. Before each Council/European Council, the Ministers/PM informs the Grand Committee of the agenda, Finnish position and state of play of the negotiations. CFSP and CSDP matters are scrutinized by the Foreign Affairs Committee. Government adopts Parliament's position on all proposed EU acts. Ministers/PM always report to the Grand Committee after each Council meeting on decisions. Document-based scrutiny and hearings with Ministers are two separate but inter-related cycles: scrutiny completed before Council working groups begin; Ministers heard before Council meetings.

Ministers are politically accountable to the Parliament. If a Minister has had to deviate from the agreed position, the Minister must give an explanation to the Grand Committee without delay.

"The fact that every committee of the Parliament has been involved in EU matters has ensured the necessary expertise in all fields of European action and has associated all Members of the Parliament with European policy-making". See Parliamentary Scrutiny of European Union Matters in Finland.

Yes (Finland never uses Parliamentary reserve since Parliamentary scrutiny is part of formulating the Finnish position) No public meetings. Documents become public after committee meeting.
FranceCommittee on European Union (Assemblée Nationale) — The European Affairs Committee (EAC) of the National Assembly considers all draft European acts. It takes note of texts deemed to be of minor importance or that do not give rise to any difficulty. Texts which justify Parliament taking a position are the subject of a written or an oral presentation by the Chairman of the Committee or by a specially appointed rapporteur.

The EAC can adopt conclusions in support or opposition of any European proposal or, when justified by the importance of the topic, table a motion for a resolution. Any deputy in the National Assembly can table a motion for a resolution on any European topic. These motions are then considered by the European Affairs Committee, which can reject or adopt them after possibly amending them. Motions are then sent to a lead committee among the eight standing committees, which can adopt them (either explicitly or tacitly within one month). Lastly, the Conference of Presidents decides whether it is necessary to include the motion for debate on the plenary agenda. If it does not do so within a fortnight, the resolution is considered as final and transmitted to the Government. While these resolutions do not legally bind the Government, they have a strong political impact.

The procedure for adopting a reasoned opinion on the grounds of non-compliance of subsidiarity is the same as the procedure for adopting resolutions, but with shorter time limits in order to complete the process within the 8-week timeframe.

Committee on European Union (Sénat) - The European Affairs Committee (EAC) (36 members, each of them belong at the same time to one of the seven standing committees) has the duty to monitor EU activities. Its main task is to systematically review EU texts before they are adopted by the EU institutions. It may adopt draft resolutions on EU proposals or documents, in order to give the Senate's point of view to the Government. The procedure for adopting EU resolutions is fairly similar to the one in the National Assembly.

The Committee also assesses the compliance with the principle of subsidiarity of every legislative proposal sent by the European Commission in the framework of protocol 2 to the treaty of Lisbon. It is entitled in this regard to adopt draft reasoned opinions. The procedure follows : a dedicated working group, where political groups are equally represented, reviews the draft proposals and suggests, if deemed necessary, a rapporteur for a more complete examination. Then, the rapporteur presents the subsidiarity and proportionality issues to the EAC which decides if the text complies with these principles. 16 reasoned opinions have been adopted since the Lisbon treaty is in force (7 in 2012).

Moreover, during a public session (in plenary), a debate is set up with the relevant member of the Government before each formal meeting of the European Council.

Yes - 8 weeks for draft legislative acts, 4 weeks for any other document Meetings are generally closed (for practical reasons) but the EAC may decide to open some of its hearings. Meetings with exceptional guests and Joint meetings with members of the EAC of the National Assembly and French MEPs are public.

Minutes and documents of all meetings are made public

GermanyCommittee on questions of the European Union (Bundesrat) — The Committee is the lead committee on all documents from the Council and the Commission that are of importance for the federal states. It generally discusses the documents on the basis of recommendations from the sectoral committees. The Committee suggests recommendations for opinions to be adopted by the plenary. It also examines whether there is sufficient legal basis in the EU Treaties for the draft legislation and checks that the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality are respected. The Federal Government is obliged to consider the opinions of the Bundesrat. In some cases, they are even binding for the Federal Government.

For further information on the different forms of parliamentary participation of the Bundesrat in European matters, please see the European information web-site of the Bundesrat. For detailed information on the procedure, please see the Rules of procedure of the Bundesrat.

Role of competent committees in EU scrutiny

All parliamentary committees of the Bundestag scrutinize EU matters that fall within their competence. EU items are referred to one lead committee - depending on the subject matter - and usually several other committees. The Committee on the Affairs of the European Union (EU Committee) is usually involved, but not necessarily as lead committee. In their deliberations on EU documents, the committees also monitor adherence to the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality and may present a recommendation for a resolution to the Bundestag. The EU Committee can express concerns regarding infringement of these principles even if it is not the lead committee. It then presents a recommendation for a resolution to the Bundestag. The Bundestag may empower the EU Committee to exercise the rights of the Bundestag in relation to the Federal Government (in accordance with Article 23 of the Basic Law). The EU Committee has no power to adopt opinions that are binding on the Federal Government if there has not been a specific empowerment by the Bundestag.
The Federal Government is obliged to notify the Bundestag comprehensively, as early as possible and continuously of matters concerning the EU. This covers, in particular, the Federal Government's decision-making process, the preparation and course of discussions within the institutions of the EU. This is regulated by the Act on Cooperation between the Federal Government and the German Bundestag in Matters concerning the European Union, which has been amended on 4 July 2013

Scrutiny reserve?

See Article 23 (1) of the German Fundamental Law: "Before participating in legislative acts of the European Union, the Federal Government shall provide the Bundestag with an opportunity to state its position. The Federal Government shall take the position of the Bundestag into account during the negotiations. Details shall be regulated by a law."

Details are regulated by section 8 of the Act on Cooperation between the Federal Government and the German Bundestag in Matters concerning the European Union (see above).

See also: Act on the Exercise by the Bundestag and by the Bundesrat of their Responsibility for Integration in Matters concerning the European Union (Responsibility for Integration Act)


Transparency: Availability of committee documents / Meetings in public or private
Committee documents are mostly not published with the exception of documents for and minutes of public hearings. Most meetings are held in public.

See second column See second column
GreeceSpecial Standing Committee on European Affairs — Adopts recommendations on EU legislation and submits them to Parliament and Government. Expresses advisory opinion on any EU issue, opinion not binding, although Government must answer opinion.

For detailed information on the scrutiny procedure, see Hellenic Parliament (Vouli Ton Ellinon) Special Standing Committee for European Affairs.

NoPublic meetings, agendas on website, minutes only available on request.
HungaryNew legal framework since April 2012: The Act XXXVI of 2012 of the National Assembly replaced the previous Act determining the controlling possibilities of the parliament in EU affairs. The new Act also defines the detailed rules of cooperation with the Government in order to efficiently represent the Hungarian interests in the Council.

Regarding scrutiny the Committee on European Affairs (CEA) has a central role including the phases of preparation, decision making and control. The aim of the CEA is to oversee and influence the Hungarian negotiating position. The parliamentary standpoint politically binds the Government at Council meetings.

The system of scrutiny created in Hungary is a relatively strong one. The Government has a wide-range of obligation to provide the Committee with EU drafts. The CEA decides which EU draft will be taken under examination and it also seeks to assist and coordinate the work of the standing committees involved in scrutiny. The most important characteristic of the process is that the CEA has a decision-making power, and takes decisions in the name of the plenary.

NoThe meetings focusing on general debate of EU drafts and the HU position is open to the public. However the standpoint of the CEA is elaborated in an in camera session.
IrelandIreland changed to a new "mainstreaming" system in 2011 whereby each Committee now considers the draft legislative acts and other documents relevant to its policy area and receives Ministers before Council for oral briefings. A further refinement in 2012 is that each Committee selects the proposals it will scrutinise in detail based on the Commission Annual Work Programme and other sources of information. Proposals which are not prioritised still come before the Committee on a schedule but will not be examined in detail unless there is a further reason to do so i.e. at the request of a Member if the Committee agrees with the request.

The Joint Committee on European Union Affairs scrutinises information on overarching legislative proposals such as the MFF or on issues like the Stability Treaty and continues to receive Ministers for oral briefings before General Affairs Council meetings.

Ministers must consider recommendations.

Mainstreaming gives more focussed engagement by members with an expertise in the relevant policy areas and an increase in the EU output of Committees - more reports, more use of political dialogue, more members involved.

No formal systemMeetings in public, information on web, except for preparatory meetings with the policy advisor.
ItalyCommittee on EU policies (Camera dei Deputati) — May adopt opinions on EU draft legislative acts and on other EU documents transmitted by the Government or under Protocol (No. 1), and such opinions are submitted to the competent sectoral committee, which can adopt a "final document" addressed to the Government and to the EU institutions within the framework of the political dialogue. Those draft legislative acts transmitted under Protocol (No. 2) are referred to the EU Policies Committee which can issue a Reasoned Opinion or adopt a document containing a positive assessment of subsidiarity. Both the Reasoned Opinion and the positive assessment can be referred to the plenary (within five days) by the Government, one-fifth of the Committee members or one-tenth of the members of the House.

(Senato della Repubblica) — Sectoral (standing) Committees should examine—each for the subjects over which it has jurisdiction—EU draft measures sent by the  European Institutions, Government or published in the Official Gazette of the European Communities, as well as the information reports issued by the Government on relevant Community processes and compliance of existing national measures with the provisions of the draft measure in question; for this purpose, the opinions of the Foreign Affairs Committee and the European Policies Committee (14th Standing Committee)  are always gathered. Whenever it deems it appropriate, a Standing Committee may adopt resolutions laying down principles and guidelines to the Government. Since the entry in force of Lisbon Treaty, all the draft proposals, under subsidiarity scrutiny are referred to the Relevant Standing Committees for opinions to be issued.

The 14th Standing Committee has general jurisdiction over the constitutional aspects of the activity of the EU and its bodies and the transposition of Community measures. It also has jurisdiction over compliance with Union law. It is responsible for relations with the European Parliament and the Conference of Union Affairs Committees of EU Parliaments (COSAC), and examines and reports to the Senate on the Community Bill introduced every year by the Government to fulfil Community obligations. Members of the Committee are also members of another Standing Committee. Double membership is seen as ensuring that members of the Committee combine knowledge of European issues with knowledge of matters within the terms of reference of the other Committee they sit on.

In the event that the Committee responsible by subject matter does not issue an opinion in due time (six weeks) the 14th Standing Committee has a "surrogate power".  This means that the 14th Committee shall convert its original non binding opinion into a final Senate resolution after a second vote by a majority of its members.

On 14 January 2013 a new Act on Italian participation in the EU entered into force (Law N. 234/2012).

The Act replaces Act no. 11/2005 and lays down the general legal framework for: the cooperation between the Parliament and Government in the EU affairs; the coordination of Government action at EU level (by enhancing the role of the interministerial Committee for EU Affairs - CIAE); relations between the State and the regions (including the regional assemblies) in EU decision-making; implementation of EU legislation in Italy (under two Annual Acts: the EU delegation Act and the EU ACT);

the management of infringements and State-aid cases.

The Act enhances significantly the role of the Italian Parliament in scrutinising the Government's action at EU level. To this end it obliges the Government to transmit to the Chambers: explanatory memorandum and impact assessment on draft EU legislation and consultation documents (also with reference to the subsidiarity checks);

draft agreements in economic and fiscal policy; the notes and the report prepared by the Italian Permanent Representation to the EU on draft legislation, Council meetings (including COREPER and WG), negotiations, trialogues and any other relevant EU affairs.

In addition, the Government must report to both Chambers before and after the European Council (as already provided in previous legislation) and, if requested, before and after the Council meetings.

The Government must comply with the recommendations of the Chambers or explain why it could not comply.

Members of the 14th Standing Committee—unlike those of the other 13 Senate standing committees—are also members of another standing committee. The composition of the Committee comprises three senators belonging to each of the Constitutional Affairs, Foreign Affairs, and Economic and Budget Standing Committees. Double membership ensures that members of the 14th Committee combine deep knowledge of European issues with good knowledge of matters within the terms of reference of the other committee they sit on.

Yes limited to 20 days Meetings generally in broadcast. Minutes are published the following day.
LatviaEuropean Affairs Committee — Government obliged to present position to Committee, which reviews and approves negotiating position. At the moment the European Affairs Committee is the only body involved in this examination.

Latvia plans to involve sectoral committees at the early stages of draft EU legislation. If there is any disagreement between the EU Affairs Committee and the sectoral committees, the EU Affairs Committee has the final say on all EU issues. The proposed improvements of the scrutiny system will be carried out within the framework of the existing legal base.

Currently, scrutiny of EU legislation is performed through examination of the Government's position before Council meetings, but a more thorough analysis is planned for draft EU legislative acts, which are strategically important to Latvia. The selection of important EU drafts will be made by both the Government and the Parliament at Meetings of Senior Officials (as soon as possible after receiving European Commission proposal). This draft legislation will be discussed thoroughly by the relevant sector committees in the Saeima. The Saeima may decide on its own initiative to scrutinize any other EU draft legislation.

YesMeetings in public, minutes and documents made public.
LithuaniaCommittee on European Affairs — a mixed document based and mandating system. The Committee may examine and present conclusions on all EU proposals — except proposals within the domain of CFSP and certain aspects of external relations of the European Union related to the common commercial policy and co-operation with the World Trade Organisation which are dealt with by the Committee on Foreign Affairs. The scrutiny made by the Committee is to a large extent based on the recommendations of the sectoral committees. The final conclusions of the Committee on European Affairs or the Committee on Foreign Affairs concerning possible nonconformity of the proposal to adopt a legal act of the European Union with the principle of subsidiarity are subject to approval by the Seimas plenary sitting. Yes — politically binding Meetings generally in public.
LuxembourgCommittee for Foreign and European Affairs, for Defence, for Cooperation and for Immigration — Receives reports before and after Council and deals with institutional issues. It examines the list of official EU documents which are sent for analysis and advice to different sectoral committees in the Chamber of Deputies. Official representatives from the Government or the EU institutions can be invited to appear before committees. Regularly and increasingly the Chamber discusses current EU matters in public session, particularly before important EU decisions, after Council meetings or at any other time when Parliament wants to take a position on recent developments. The Chamber of Deputies can ask the Prime Minister or a specific minister to speak before and after European Council meetings. NoMeetings held in private.
MaltaEU scrutiny is carried out by the Standing Committee on Foreign and European Affairs and the working groups set up within it on the basis of an explanatory memorandum submitted by Government.

Working Group 1, which acts in preliminary scrutiny, checks that the Government position contained in the explanatory memoranda reflects accurately the political, economic and social effects on Malta. If the information is considered to be satisfactory, the document is cleared from scrutiny. If, on the other hand, the Committee feels that further clarifications are required it can either retain the document and request additional information from the government, or else refer it to one of the other three working groups or the Standing Committee on Foreign and European Affairs, or the Standing Committee on Social Affairs, or the Standing Committee for Economic and Financial Affairs according to the subject. The Minister taking the lead on a document that has been retained for further clarifications may be requested to attend before the working group or the Committee dealing with the document.

Once the Committee is satisfied with the information received, the document is cleared from scrutiny and the Chair of the Standing Committee on Foreign and European Affairs tables the relevant documentation in the House. Papers Laid appear in the Minutes of the House and are made available on the website of the Parliament.

Yes but not statutory Meetings are held in private;

Relevant documents are tabled in the House once scrutiny is complete;

Papers Laid are available on the parliament's website.

NetherlandsBoth the House of Representatives and the Senate use a decentralised work method for the scrutiny of EU proposals, which means that sectoral committees are responsible for scrutinizing EU proposals and controlling the government with regard to EU matters relating to their own policy domains. The European Affairs Committee (Tweede Kamer) and the European Affairs Committee (Eerste Kamer) have a co-ordinating role and deal with broader, horizontal issues, such as the MFF, European Semester and EU enlargement.

Each year both Chambers adopt a priority list of legislative proposals, based on the Work Programme by the European Commission that is published in autumn. All sectoral committees examine the announced proposals in their own policy area, select priorities and then channel their lists to the European Affairs Committee. The latter compiles the complete list of prioritized legislative proposals which is discussed with the government in a public meeting. After this debate, the final list of EU priorities is adopted by the Plenary, preferably before the 1st of January, after which it is officially published and shared with the government. The list does not exclude the possibility for sectoral committees to add priorities during the year.

For detailed information, see, "How does the Netherlands reach its position?" Netherlands Parliament website

New information-based reserve.

Special arrangements apply to those areas relating to Justice and Home Affairs which require unanimity.

Open meetings and documents made public.
PolandEuropean Union Affairs Committee (Sejm) — Preliminary review of acts. It formulates opinions for the Council of Ministers and the Government is obliged to present negotiated position to Committee which takes positions and expresses opinions. Position should form basis for government; if it deviates it must explain the reasons why.

European Union Affairs Committee (Senate) considers EU draft legal acts and the Government's positions on them and issues opinions on those documents. EUAC may also express opinions on the Government's negotiating positions in the Council. The Committee's opinions are adopted on behalf of the Senate and they are not binding for the Government.

For comment on changes to take account of the Lisbon Treaty, see "The Polish Parliament under the Lisbon Treaty — adaptation to the institutional reform", Aleksander Fuksiewicz, 2011.

NoMeetings in public, all documents released into public domain.

Meetings webcast live, unless in closed session. Meetings open to public. Documents released into public domain.

PortugalEuropean Affairs Committee (EAC) — The EAC is the competent parliamentary committee for monitoring and assessing all European subjects of interest to Portugal, as well as those that are pending decision at European Union bodies and, in particular, the performance of the Government with respect to these subjects. The EAC is especially competent in subsidiarity control and is the only parliamentary committee which is entitled to submit a draft resolution to the plenary, within the framework of its competences.

Simultaneously, EU matters are also discussed by the specialized standing parliamentary committees, in cooperation with the EAC, and also by the Plenary.

Twelve permanent committees — Examine and write reports on EU initiatives — including draft legislative acts' compliance with the principle of subsidiarity - to be forwarded to the EAC, which is responsible for writing the final opinion. Following the amendment of law 43/2006, in 2012, by law 21/2012, in 2013 the scrutiny procedure was changed and each parliamentary committee, as well as the Legislative Assemblies of the two Portuguese Autonomous Regions, through a report they sent to the EAC, expressly select - from the European Commission's Work Programme — the draft acts they wish to scrutinise the following year, bearing in mind, especially, their interest/political relevance, So, as a rule, only those draft acts are meant to be scrutinised. Additionally, the Portuguese Parliament (EAC and competent committees) actively participates at the subsidiarity control mechanism envisaged by Protocol no. 2 annexed to the Treaty of Lisbon.

Plenary — Since the amendment of law 43/2006, in 2012, by law 21/2012, the plenary has the final word regarding voting/approving a parliamentary opinion on the scope of matters that fall within the Parliament's exclusive legislative competence, as well as regarding voting/approving a reasoned opinion on the compliance of an EU draft act with the principle of subsidiarity. Furthermore, during a legislative session, the Plenary holds a minimum of eight debates on the EU: a plenary debate in which the Prime Minister shall take part and shall be the first to speak, to be held before each European Council; a plenary debate in which the Government shall take part, at the beginning of each presidency of the Council of the European Union, on the priorities thereof, as well as on the European Commission's annual Work Programme and on the Government's annual report on Portugal's participation in the process of constructing the European Union; a plenary debate in which the Government shall take part, on the State of the Union, after the respective debate at the European Parliament and to be held during the final quarter of each year; and a plenary debate in which the Government shall take part, on the various instruments for the economic governance of the European Union that are included in the European Semester, and particularly on the Stability and Growth Programme, in the second quarter of the year.

For comment on the Portuguese system, see

The Portuguese Parliament: Blazing the Trail to the European Scrutiny Trophy, Davor JANI,[291] June 2011, in particular section called "The reform of EU scrutiny procedures: refocusing on ex ante involvement" and

Implementing the Treaty of Lisbon: the Portuguese Parliament as an actor in the european legislative arena, RESENDE, Madalena Meyer and PAULO, Maria Teresa, a chapter in "The Europeanization of Portuguese democracy" — ISBN 978-0-88033-946-9. — New York: Columbia University Press, 2012. — p.85-109.

NoPublic meetings.
RomaniaThe Senate has an EU Affairs Committee with 11 members and the Chamber of Deputies has a separate EU Affairs Committee.

The European Affairs Committee and the sectoral committees discuss the general policy, the EU draft legal acts based on priorities and national legal acts transposing adopted EU legislation. The Plenary votes on legislation and the reasoned opinions or opinions proposed by the committees regarding the EU draft legislation. For the ratification of Treaties, the Parliament retains full power.

The Camera Deputatilor (Chamber of Deputies) on 19 April 2011 adopted a new legal framework on its participation in European affairs (Decision of the Romanian Camera Deputaþilor No 11/2011).

In the Senatul (Senate), the internal subsidiarity control mechanism has been amended to focus more on horizontal cooperation between the Committee on European Affairs and specialized committees. The aim is to provide for timely scrutiny of priority proposals and improved information exchange between the Senatul and the Government.

YesNot generally open to the public.
SlovakiaAccording to the Constitutional Act and the amendments to the Rules of Procedure the NC SR Committee on European Affairs has been delegated powers to approve on behalf of the National Council of the Slovak Republic the positions of the Slovak Republic concerning proposals for legislative and non-legislative acts of the European Union. The positions approved by the NC SR Committee on European Affairs are binding for the Government of the Slovak Republic.

Members of the Government of the Slovak Republic have to submit to the Committee on European Affairs for its approval the positions of the Slovak Republic concerning proposals for legislative and non-legislative acts of the European Union before they agree upon them either in the EU Council or in the European Council; such submission must be done 2 weeks prior to the respective meeting. If the Committee on European Affairs fails to express its opinion on the position proposed by the Government of the SR or if the Committee fails to approve such the position without adopting another position on the matter, the member of the Government of the SR is authorized to act on the originally proposed position of the Government of the SR.

The amendments to the Rules of Procedure elaborate on further aspects of the EU scrutiny competence of the NC SR Committee on European Affairs vis- -vis the Government of the Slovak Republic (including the delivery of the preliminary positions by the Government of the Slovak Republic concerning proposals for legislative and non-legislative acts of the European Union and also including the arrangements concerning the new powers entrusted to the EU National Parliaments by the Treaty of Lisbon).

CEA can use a scrutiny reserve but only uses it in specific cases Sessions of the CEA are public.
SloveniaAccording to the Act on Cooperation between the National Assembly and the Government in EU Affairs, the National Assembly shall participate in the formulation of positions of the Republic of Slovenia in relation to those EU affairs that given their subject matter would come under its jurisdiction in accordance with the Constitution and laws. The National Assembly shall discuss the draft positions of the Republic of Slovenia or express its intent to discuss such within the time limits required by the work within EU institutions, or the draft shall be deemed the position of the Republic of Slovenia. At the proposal of the Government or at its own initiative the National Assembly may also discuss other EU affairs.

Most of these EU Affairs are discussed and the positions thereon taken by the Committee on EU Affairs, except the affairs concerning foreign and security policy which are in the competence of the Committee on Foreign Policy.

International relations and European Affairs Committee (National Council) — May convey to the National Assembly its opinion on all matters within the competence of the Assembly. A member of the Council attends meetings of the EU or Foreign Policy Committees of the Assembly to do so.

On the proposal of the Government or on its own initiative the Committee can have a scrutiny reserve over the proposal of the EU legislation in order to explore the proposal in more detail. According to the Rules of the Procedure, the sessions of the National Assembly and meetings of its working bodies are open to the public. A session or a meeting or part thereof may be closed to the public if the National Assembly or the working body discusses materials containing confidential information or other information that is protected pursuant to the law.
SpainJoint Committee for the European Union — Discusses EU laws, adopts resolutions to guide the action of the government in EU matters. May organise debates on a specific proposal for legislation. NoBureau and spokespersons meetings usually held in private.

Committee meetings may be attended by media and are webstreamed unless they are secret.

SwedenCommittee on EU Affairs

Discusses government's position prior to Council of Ministers. Is focused on formulation and issuing voting instructions. The Government's consultations with the Committee on EU Affairs are to concern decisions in the Council of Ministers.

Fifteen Sectoral committees

Examine and write statements on Green and White Papers and other (non-legislative) EU documents. The Government confers with the specialized committees at the early stage (throughout and up to decision-making stage) of the parliamentary process.

Examine all draft legislative acts' compliance with the principle of subsidiarity. Propose reasoned opinions to be adopted by the plenary.

Mandates are politically but not legally binding. (Non compliance can risk criticism from the Committee on the Constitution.)

See Riksdag document, "Consideration of documents coming from the European Union" for details of process.

YesPrivate meetings mostly. Open meetings before the European council. Documents and records of meetings published on website.

Private meetings. Reports, statements as well as extracts from the committees' meetings are published on the website.

UKHouse of Commons European Scrutiny Committee has a sifting role to identify documents of legal and political importance; as well as conduct inquiries on wider issues arising and propose Reasoned Opinions for decision in plenary. Departmental Select Committees can have documents referred to them for opinion. The Scrutiny Committee has the power to refer documents for debate in specialist European Committees, and can also recommend that a debate takes place on the floor of the House.

House of Lords European Union Committee: Examines important EU documents and policies. Usually works through six subject specialist sub-committees, with cross-cutting issues considered by the main Committee. The Committees put their views to UK Ministers through correspondence and at public hearings. On around 15 major policy issues per year, they also take evidence from EU institutions and others, and publish detailed reports.

Scrutiny reserve not statutory.

YesMeetings held in public and private. Transcripts and recordings of evidence sessions available. Committee reports published and available online.

289   See Consideration of EU matters in the Folketing - a summary, 2005. Back

290   Institute for Advanced Studies (IHS), Vienna Back

291   PhD candidate in European Constitutional Law, Faculty of Law, Economics and Governance, Utrecht School of Law, Utrecht University. Back

previous page contents next page

© Parliamentary copyright 2013
Prepared 28 November 2013