national parliaments and the EU: key panel themes

Our opening conference ‘Reinventing global order’ took place yesterday. The variety of interesting panels and talks was such that it would be impossible to report on all. I will offer a few words about the panel on national parliaments (co- sponsored by the Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence) with the caveat that there were many, many other interesting things going on. I could just not listen to them, as we were engaged in a short, but productive panel discussion about the role national parliaments play in scrutinizing government policy after the coming into force of the Lisbon Treaty.  We presented ongoing research, on references to directives in Dutch and UK parliaments by Rik de Ruiter, on why parliaments have not managed to use the yellow card more than once by Wouter Metzlar and Antoaneta Dimitrova and on the parliamentary scrutiny reserve procedures so far in the Dutch parliament by Bernard Steunenberg and Atie de Ruiter. Then our guest speakers presented different perspectives on why parliaments do not make more of their scrutiny of national executives when they negotiate in the EU. John O’ Brennan, Director of the Centre for the Study of Wider Europe at  the National University of Ireland, Maynooth, highlighted the role of political system factors that contribute to the weakness of the Irish parliament  in controlling the executive in the EU arena. Tineke Strik, Chair of the European Affairs Committee of the Dutch Senate, talked about the importance of providing timely information to the Senate on positions taken in the Council. Mendeltje van Keulen, advisor and expert at the Second Chamber and coordinator of the EU support staff,  reminded us of the success of the new scrutiny system (which she has been instrumental in setting up), but also stressed the need for timely information for the second chamber if the scrutiny system is to be effective. All panelists referred with admiration to the timely and appropriate information provided to the Danish parliament, which remains an example to be emulated and also sometimes a source of information for other parliaments…So many interesting things emerged from the discussion that we could have easily held a full day’s conference on this topic. To be continued…

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