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Implementation of the Lisbon Treaty Provisions on the enhanced

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Implementation of the Lisbon Treaty Provisions on the enhanced

    Tithe an Oireachtais

    An Comhchoiste um Ghnóthaí Eorpacha

    An Comhchoiste um Ghrinnscrúdú Eorpach

    Comhthuarascáil maidir le Conradh Liospóin a Chur i nGníomh:

    Socruithe eatramhacha maidir leis an ról méadaithe do

    Thithe an Oireachtais

    8 Nollaig 2009

    _________________________

    Houses of the Oireachtas

    Joint Committee on European Affairs

    Joint Committee on European Scrutiny

    Joint Report on Implementation of the Lisbon Treaty: Interim arrangements on the enhanced role of the Houses of the Oireachtas

    8 December 2009

INDEX

     Page

    DECISION OF THE JOINT COMMITTEE…………………………………………………....2

    EXECUTIVE SUMMARY…………………………………………………………………..3

    INTRODUCTION …………………………………………………………….…….………9

    CURRENT ROLE OF THE HOUSES OF THE OIREACHTAS IN EU AFFAIRS………………….11

    PROVISIONS OF THE LISBON TREATY……………………………………………………13

    EUROPEAN UNION ACT 2009………………………………………………………….....22

    JOINT COMMITTEES CONSULTATION ON THE FUTURE ROLE OF THE HOUSES OF THE OIREACHTAS IN EU AFFAIRS ISSUES TO BE CONSIDERED…………………………..…..23

    RECOMMENDATIONS……………………………………………………………………..27

APPENDIX I DIAGRAM ON INTERIM SUBSIDIARITY PROCESS

APPENDIX II RELEVANT PROVISIONS OF THE LISBON TREATY

    APPENDIX III ORDERS OF REFERENCE OF THE JOINT COMMITTEES

APPENDIX IV MEMBERS OF THE JOINT COMMITTEES

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ECISION OF THE JOINT COMMITTEE D

    The Joint Committees on European Affairs and European Scrutiny at a joint meeting on 8 December 2009 considered the Joint Report on the Implementation of the Lisbon Treaty: Provisions on the Enhanced Role for National Parliaments and agreed that the report, as presented, should be laid before both Houses of the Oireachtas, and published on the Oireachtas Website.

_________________ ________________

    John Perry TD Bernard Durkan

    Chairman Chairman

    European Scrutiny Committee European Affairs Committee

8 December 2009

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EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

    With the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty on 1 December 2009, the attention of the Committees on European Affairs and European Scrutiny has now shifted to implementation of the Treaty. While many of the provisions of the Treaty are concerned with reform of the EU institutions aimed at making them work more effectively and efficiently, some of the most important provisions concern enhancing the democratic legitimacy and controls of the Union. A number of innovations are introduced, the most important of which are measures enhancing the role of national parliaments. National Parliaments are given a range of new powers and entitlements which enable them to contribute actively to the good functioning of the Union. It is vitally important that these new powers and entitlements are effectively implemented at EU level and by each national parliament if the EU is to become more transparent, accountable and ultimately more democratic.

    It is clear to both Committees that the way the Houses of the Oireachtas deal with EU matters needs to be critically examined and significantly revised in light of the Lisbon Treaty as well as the recommendations of the Sub-Committee on Ireland‘s Future in the

    European Union which reported in November 2008. Both Committees have agreed to embark on a period of reflection to allow for consultation with members of the Houses of the Oireachtas, the Ceann Comhairle, the Cathaoirleach, the Government, Party Whips,

    Leader of the Seanad, Party Leaders and the Irish MEPs. However, given that the

    Lisbon Treaty enters into force on 1 December 2009, the Houses of the Oireachtas must be in a position to fulfil their new responsibilities under the Lisbon Treaty, as provided for in the European Act 2009. Therefore, both Committees recommend that interim arrangements and procedures should be put in place to enable the Houses to undertake and execute their new powers under the terms of the Lisbon Treaty pending the completion of a comprehensive consultation by the Joint Committees on the future role of the Houses of the Oireachtas in EU affairs.

    This report provides a brief overview of the current role of the Houses of the Oireachtas in EU affairs. It examines the provisions of the Lisbon Treaty on enhancing the role of national parliaments and the European Union Act 2009 (hereinafter referred to as the 2009 Act) which provides some of these new powers to the Houses of the Oireachtas. The report also offers a brief overview of the type of issues which may be examined as part of the Joint Committee‘s comprehensive consultation process on the future role of

    the Houses of the Oireachtas. Finally, the report makes a range of recommendations on

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    how the provisions of the Lisbon Treaty should be given practical effect on an interim basis pending the conclusion of the consultation process.

The main recommendations are:

    1. While the ultimate decisions in respect of the powers conferred on the Houses of

    the Oireachtas in Section 7 of the 2009 Act should be made by Dáil Éireann and

    Seanad Éireann independently, it is recommended that on an interim basis the

    operation of the new powers and the preparation of the required draft decisions

    should be undertaken through the Oireachtas Committee system.

    2. Through its operation of the European Union (Scrutiny) Act 2002 and

    participation in COSAC coordinated subsidiarity checks, the Joint Committee on

    European Scrutiny has built up a knowledge and experience on the scrutiny of

    draft EU legislative proposals and on the principle of subsidiarity. It is

    recommended, therefore, that the Joint Committee on European Scrutiny should

    have the responsibility for the day-to-day operation of Section 7(3) of the

    European Union Act 2009 for the proposed interim period, i.e. the operation of

    the ‗Yellow and Orange Card‘ procedure.

    3. In this regard, the Joint Committee on European Scrutiny would, using the current

    scrutiny system set up by the 2002 Act, examine EU legislative proposals for their

    compliance with the principle of subsidiarity and if required prepare the reasoned

    opinion which would be referred to Dáil Éireann and Seanad Éireann by way of a

    report. This report would have priority under Standing Order 28. In the

    preparation of this report, the Joint Committee should consult with the Joint

    Committee on European Affairs, the Irish delegation to the Committee of the

    Regions as well as with other relevant Oireachtas committees. If Dáil Éireann

    and/or Seanad Éireann agree with the Joint Committee on European Scrutiny‘s

    report, the reasoned opinion should be sent to the EU institutions by the Ceann

    Comhairle and/or the Cathaoirleach on behalf of Dáil Éireann and Seanad Éireann

    respectively.

    4. While it is advised, in the interest of efficiency and effectiveness, that the select

    committees of both Houses should work jointly when considering subsidiarity, it

    is recommended that the select committees of both Houses should have the right,

    if they so decide, to work independently. This would reflect the fact that Dáil

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    Éireann and Seanad Éireann hold the powers under Section 7(3) of the 2009 Act equally. (A diagram illustrating the process appears in Appendix I)

    5. The Houses of the Oireachtas, through the Joint Committee on European Scrutiny, will have eight weeks after publication of a draft EU legislative act to examine it and prepare a reasoned opinion if it is found that it does not comply with the principle of subsidiarity. In order to assist the Houses of the Oireachtas with meeting this tight deadline, the ongoing cooperation of Government Departments will be essential. While not wishing to add to the burden of Government Departments, it is critically important that Departments provide the Joint Committee with the earliest notice possible of draft legislative acts which have raised issues of subsidiarity. It is therefore recommended that existing networks are further developed at official level to facilitate the earliest exchange of information on proposals which may raise subsidiarity issues. The Joint Committees have asked the Secretariat to begin consultations with the Department of Foreign Affairs, as the coordinating Department, on the further development of these networks for the exchange of information, specifically in relation to subsidiarity. It is also recommended that the current scrutiny system is used to the best extent possible to assist the Joint Committee on European Scrutiny with the operation of the subsidiarity check mechanism.

    6. Effective inter-parliamentary cooperation is critical to the successful implementation of the provisions of the Lisbon Treaty on the enhanced role for national parliaments. The EU Speakers‘ Conference, starting at its meeting on 11-

    12 December, will be considering how best to improve inter-parliamentary cooperation in light of the Lisbon Treaty. This consideration will include examining the roles played by the parliaments‘ representatives in Brussels and IPEX, the internet tool for the exchange of information between national parliaments. In the interim period and pending the conclusion of EU Speakers‘ Conference discussions, the Oireachtas‘ Representative to the EU institutions should liaise, on behalf of the Joint Committee on European Scrutiny, with other national parliament representatives with a view to providing early warning on legislative proposals which have raised subsidiarity issues. It is also recommended that the Oireachtas should be willing to offer financial support for the improvement of the IPEX system should these arise before the conclusion of the EU Speakers‘ Conference discussions in May 2010.

    7. With regard to the powers conferred on national parliaments under Article 48.7 of the Treaty of the European Union, as amended by the Lisbon Treaty, and

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    provided for by Section 7(1) of the 2009 Act, it is recommended that the Dáil and the Seanad should refer such notifications to the Joint Committee on European Affairs. The Joint Committee on European Affairs, in consultation with the relevant sectoral committee(s), will examine the proposed European Council decision and prepare a report within the specified six months for consideration by Dáil and Seanad Éireann.

    8. With regard to the powers conferred on national parliaments under Article 81.3 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, as amended by the Lisbon Treaty, and provided for by Section 7(2) of the 2009 Act, it is recommended that the Dáil and Seanad should refer such notifications to the Joint Committee on Justice, Equality, Defence and Women‘s Rights. These notifications should also

    be forwarded to the Joint Committee on European Affairs for information. The Joint Committee on Justice, Equality, Defence and Women‘s Rights will examine the proposed Council decision and prepare a report within the specified six months for consideration by Dáil and Seanad Éireann.

    9. It is recommended that the Joint Committees on European Affairs and European Scrutiny, due to their knowledge and experience in the area, should be given the responsibility of identifying acts of the EU institutions which may infringe the principle of subsidiarity for the purposes of bringing procedures to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in accordance with Article 8 of the Protocol on the application of the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality and provided for by Section 7(4) of the 2009 Act. The Joint Committees, in consultation with the relevant sectoral committee(s), would prepare a report requesting the Minister for Foreign Affairs to bring the procedures before the European Court of Justice. This request should be approved by Dáil and Seanad Éireann before being sent to the Minister.

    10. In accordance with Articles 1, 2, 5 and 7 of the Protocol on the role of national parliaments in the European Union, the Houses of the Oireachtas will be entitled to receive the following documents directly from the EU Institutions:

    ; European Commission consultation documents such as green and white

    papers and communications;

    ; The European Commission‘s annual legislative work programme as well as

    any other instrument of legislative planning or policy;

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    ; All draft legislative acts which are sent to the European Parliament and to

    the Council;

    ; The agendas for and the outcome of meetings of the Council, including the

    minutes of meetings where the Council is deliberating on draft legislative

    acts;

; The annual report of the EU‘s Court of Auditors.

    It is recommended that interim mechanisms are explored on how best to communicate these documents to the Houses pending the outcome of the Joint Committee‘s comprehensive consultation process The Joint Committee on

    European Affairs and European Scrutiny should also receive these documents at the same time as both Houses.

    11. In the interim period, it is recommended that the Joint Committee on European Affairs should:

    a. continue to consider non-legislative documents of the European

    Commission including Green and White Papers and communications as

    well as the Annual Report of the EU Court of Auditors;

    b. maintain responsibility for the consideration of the Commission‘s Annual

    Policy Strategy;

    c. receive agendas for and the outcome of meetings of the Council, including

    the minutes of meetings where the Council is deliberating on draft

    legislative acts; Agendas should be forwarded to the relevant sectoral

    committees which should trigger an invitation from the relevant sectoral

    committee to the appropriate Minister(s) to attend a meeting of the

    committee in order to provide a pre-Council briefing;

    d. consider notifications received by the Houses of the Oireachtas of

    applications for accession to the EU in accordance with Article 49 of the

    TEU.

    12. In the interim period, it is recommended that the Joint Committee on European Scrutiny should receive and consider as part of its responsibilities outlined in paragraph 2 above:

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    a. draft legislative acts;

    b. the minutes of meetings where the Council is deliberating on draft

    legislative acts;

    c. the Commission‘s Annual Legislative Work Programme.

    13. The resource implications of the new role for national parliaments under the

    Lisbon Treaty are not yet clear. However, both Committees recommend that the

    workload arising from the interim arrangements recommended above should be

    actively monitored and that the level of resources should be formally reviewed as

    part of the Committee‘s comprehensive consideration on the future role of the

    Oireachtas in EU affairs.

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INTRODUCTION

    The Lisbon Treaty entered into force on 1 December 2009. This follows the decision of the Irish people on 2 October 2009 to ratify the Treaty and ratification by the other twenty-six EU Member States. The Lisbon Treaty will introduce various reforms with the aim of making the EU work more efficiently, effectively and democratically. With the Lisbon Treaty now ratified by all Member States, the focus turns to the implementation of the Treaty. While many of the provisions of the Treaty are concerned with reform of the EU institutions aimed at making them work more effectively and efficiently, some of the most important provisions concern enhancing the democratic legitimacy and controls of the Union. The Lisbon Treaty amends Title II of the Treaty on the European Union (TEU) and renames it: ‗Provisions on democratic principles‘. A number of innovations

    are introduced under this new Title II, the most important of which are measures enhancing the role of national parliaments. These innovations are expanded on through two protocols to the Treaties. National Parliaments are given a range of new powers and entitlements which enable them to contribute actively to the good functioning of the Union. It is vitally important that these new powers and entitlements are effectively implemented at EU level and by each national parliament if the EU is to become more transparent, accountable and ultimately more democratic.

    The Houses of the Oireachtas must ensure that a mechanism is put in place which will enable them to take full advantage of the new powers conferred by the Lisbon Treaty. The European Union Act 2009 (the 2009 Act) provides for the operation of some of the new powers for the Houses of the Oireachtas under the terms of the Treaty, especially in respect of national parliaments‘ new power to ensure that the principle of subsidiarity is respected. It is clear to both Oireachtas Committee dealing with European Affairs that the way the Houses of the Oireachtas deal with EU matters needs to be critically examined and significantly revised in light of the Lisbon Treaty as well as the recommendations of the Sub-Committee on Ireland‘s Future in the European Union which reported in November 2008. A period of reflection will be required in order to allow for consultation with the members of the Houses of the Oireachtas, the Ceann Comhairle, the Cathaoirleach, the Government and the Irish MEPs in considering the future role of the Houses of the Oireachtas.

    However, given that the Lisbon Treaty enters into force on 1 December 2009, the Houses of the Oireachtas must be in a position to fulfil their new responsibilities under the Lisbon Treaty, as provided for in the European Union Act 2009. Therefore, interim

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