National parliaments and political control of EU competences: a sufficient safeguard of federalism?

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Series Details Volume 24, Number 4, Pages 695-731
Publication Date December 2018
ISSN 1354-3725
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It is clear that the formal inclusion of the national parliament as a political actor within the EU decision-making process has been one of the most important innovations of the Lisbon Treaty. Their role, however, remains controversial. It is on the one hand disputed whether national parliaments enjoy sufficient powers to tame ‘competence creep’. On the other hand, it is contested to what extent it is desirable that they should become involved as a legislative actor in the EU’s decision-making procedure.

This essay contributes to these debates by critically examining to what extent national parliaments can contribute to the enforcement of the subsidiarity principle. The article contends that national parliaments by having taken a too expansive view of their remit under Protocol No 2 appears to have ‘misunderstood’ their role within the EU decision-making procedure. Notwithstanding this, it is sustained that national parliaments could, in the absence of other trustworthy safeguards of federalism, be seen as a promising avenue for legitimate political control of the exercise of EU competences.

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