Select Committee on European Union Seventh Report


SEVENTH REPORT


27 NOVEMBER 2001


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

ORDERED TO REPORT

A SECOND PARLIAMENTARY CHAMBER FOR EUROPE:
AN UNREAL SOLUTION TO SOME REAL PROBLEMS

SUMMARY


  • 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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