Montesquieu Instituut: van wetenschap naar samenleving

Supply of information crucial for European democracy

woensdag 12 februari 2014, 13:40

DEN HAAG (PDC) - The United Kingdom could take the lead in strengthening the role of national parliaments in the European Union. That was one of Deirdre Curtins conclusions during the debate 'The United Kingdom and the State of the European Democracy' on February 6th, organised by the Montesquieu Institute and Trouw newspaper. Together with MEP Sir Graham Watson, Curtin discussed the role of national parliaments and the significance of information supply in the European Union.

The United Kingdom raised the question “what should be the true source of democratic legitimacy?”. Recently, British officials said they wanted to block more European laws on national level. Curtin observed that national parliaments are increasingly aware of the possibility to discuss transparency and the information supply. She referred to the House of Common's repeated request for 'informal information'. On the other hand, courts play a reminding role in pointing parliaments to their commitments. The question whether a leading role of the House of Commons will lead to a "divorce" of the United Kingdom from the EU, was negatively answered by Sir Graham. However, a referendum will probably take place on the occasion of a new European Treaty.

One of the reasons why the EU has a bad reputation is that people are poorly informed, Sir Watson argued in his inspiring presentation. His solution would be to ensure ‘freedom of information’ and to install a special ombudsman for these issues. Already, interparliamentary meetings, alteration between members of parliaments and European institutions, and the yellow card procedure, have improved the European information supply. In this regard, Deirdre Curtin emphasized the need of 'upstream' and early information. 'Information services' between European institutions and national parliaments, as well as a mutual interchange between parliaments, will increase the accountability of, and trust in, the European Union.