Evidence from National Parliaments on
the Second Chamber
The Committee contacted colleagues in other member
state parliaments to find out what they were doing on the Second
Chamber, and to request any contributions they wished to make.
The following is a summary of the replies received by June 2001.
The consensus in the Austrian parliament is against
the creation of a European Second Chamber, but for various different
reasons. The SPÖ (Social Democratic Party) believes that
a two-chamber system already exists, with the Council and the
EP. They doubt the practicality of carrying out a dual mandate,
and would prefer to foster co-operation between the European Parliament
and the national parliaments. The FPÖ (Freedom Party) considers
that a meeting of national parliaments held in Brussels, Strasbourg
or commuting between capital cities, would not improve the link
to the European citizens. The party would prefer to see representatives
of national parliaments participating in the Council meetings.
The ÖVP (Austrian Peoples Party) is in favour of enhancing
the role of national parliaments, but not at present by the creation
of a new institution. The ÖVP considers that involvement
of national parliaments in the process of preparing for council
meetings at a national level can also provide democratic legitimacy.
The ÖVP does not rule out any kind of Second Chamber categorically.
The Green Party advocates the transformation of the Council of
Ministers into a Second Chamber on the basis of one state one
vote. The Senate would share its legislative powers with the
EP, and this would provide an effective remedy against the democratic
deficit, but would also introduce more openness and transparency
into the Council's proceedings.
The Senate has produced a full report on the European
Second Chamber - see Summary in Appendix 4.
The National Assembly has not considered the question
of a Second Chamber during this legislature (since 1997), but
in the previous legislature, several reports and documents from
the Assembly's Committee on European Affairs were broadly in favour
of the establishment of a Second Chamber. A report on the 1996
IGC, written by Mmes' Catala and Ameline, proposed a "inter-parliamentary
Committee", essentially a re-inforced version of COSAC, which
would meet on a monthly basis, primarily to monitor the application
of the principle of subsidiarity.
The German Bundesrat has taken no written evidence
on the topic of a Second Chamber.
The Luxembourg Chamber of Deputies is organising
a large inquiry into the future of Europe in the autumn, and will
produce a report towards the end of this year. This will cover
the question of a possible Second Chamber but no conclusions have
yet been reached.
The EU Joint Committee is establishing a sub-Committee
on the future of the EU, and this will take a position on the
European Second Chamber later in the year.
The Swedish Parliament's Joint Committee on the Constitution
and Foreign Affairs has issued a report on future issues facing
the EU. This touches on the question of parliamentary influence
in the EU. Although the idea of a Second Chamber is mentioned,
no firm conclusion is drawn. The report states that "these
proposals should be evaluated in the continuing European discussion
in relation to the experience of parliamentary co-operation and
to issues of electoral participation and legitimacy, but also
to the more general issue of the balance between supranational
and inter-governmental aspects of the Union". The report
also considers the parliamentary dimension in the second pillar,
and comes out against the idea of a European inter-parliamentary
assembly to monitor this area. It argues that this would create
yet another level between the voters and the body that is to be
influenced or controlled, and from the point of view of democracy
and representation this would be somewhat ill-advised.