Select Committee on European Union Seventh Report


27 NOVEMBER 2001

By the Select Committee appointed to consider European Union documents and other matters relating to the European Union.




  • The Prime Minister and others have proposed a second parliamentary chamber within the European Union, often called a second chamber of the European Parliament
  • These proposals arise from a genuine desire to address problems of democratic legitimacy in Europe; to improve the application of subsidiarity; and to provide surveillance of the Common Foreign and Security Policy
  • We do not consider that a second chamber of the European Parliament is the right solution to these problems
  • Creating a second chamber will not solve the "democratic deficit"
  • An elected second chamber could come into conflict with the existing European Parliament
  • A second chamber composed of members of national parliaments would be too time consuming for the individuals concerned
  • It would be impractical to involve an elected second chamber in Treaty revision
  • Were a second chamber to be involved in legislation, it is hard to see at what stage in the European legislative cycle it could make a contribution
  • We question the argument that setting up a second chamber will help achieve a greater voice for the regions
  • We support appropriate co-operation between national parliaments, and with the European Parliament
  • We support increasing informal co-operation between national parliamentarians in the Common Foreign Security Policy but see no case for new structures in advance of the Inter-Governmental Conference
  • We support similar co-operation in examining the Commission's Work Programme
  • The Prime Minister's proposal for a Charter of competencies is to be welcomed, although basing any such document on a political rather than a legal text would be problematic
  • We do not accept that the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe could be the basis of a second chamber
  • It is for national parliaments to ensure the accountability of their ministers (including the Council) and to monitor subsidiarity
  • COSAC is an opportunity missed, and should primarily focus on scrutiny issues rather than general debate
  • The proposed Convention to prepare for the IGC is welcomed

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