Work in progress

The Lisbon Treaty and the national parliaments

“With the Lisbon Treaty a new inter-institutional balance is being created within the European Union”, whereby “national parliaments’ responsibilities in the formation of EU legislation have been strengthened”: Edward McMillan Scott, Vice-President of the European Parliament, is a veteran in Brussels and Strasbourg. He has served uninterruptedly as MEP since 1984, first with the Conservative Party (which at the time adhered to the EPP), of which he has been a pre-eminent representative; and recently with the Liberal-Democratic Group. Born in Cambridge in 1949, he wished to inform SIR Europe that he was “educated by the Dominicans”. He has a special involvement in ethical and social issues and is viewed as an expert in international politics. As said, with the enforcement of the Reform Treaty, national parliaments have a stronger voice inside the EU, and the role of the EP has also been stepped up.“Exactly. The European Parliament has greater legislative powers that are shared with the Council, by means of the so-called co-decision tool, now extended to most Community areas. In compliance with the subsidiarity principle national parliaments are empowered to promote initiatives aimed at modifying the legislative process if it contrasts with national interests and with the parliaments’ prerogatives. Indeed, this paves the way to cooperation between the assemblies and the EU, with the specific responsibility of the European Parliament. Moreover, there are hanging questions that still need to be solved, such as foreign affairs and common security issues, along with the role of Eurojust and Europol… Under these angles the Lisbon Treaty left some room for manoeuvre. To this regard there is work in progress at Community level, and the Treaty represents a significant step forward”. You are an Englishman that describes himself as “Europeanist”. Over the past years you underwent a path that led to the strengthening of your convictions on the European project. In your opinion, since the creation of the European Union in 1992 – with the Maastricht Treaty – has the “Common Home” made concrete steps forward? “I believe it did. And they’re under everyone’s eyes to see. Furthermore, a more ‘political’ Europe is gaining grounds. Just consider the role played by political families at the European Parliament and the increased relations between these and the national parliaments. This is a positive fact which enables us to envision less red tape and more politics within the EU”. Since the onset of the economic crisis, “European governance” has become the leitmotif, which everyone calls for. But until recently this was not the case. What is your view? “European governance is critical to address the current state of affairs and the markets. Indeed, measures must comply with national prerogatives. The States’ responsibilities cannot be dismissed, but it is possible to boost cooperation to the benefit of the States and of the EU as a whole”. In the past you have shown – and you still do – a special attention for the East and for Islam. Why? “I have always believed that it was necessary to create ties and bridges with this large part of the world. I am convinced that this commitment is all the more necessary today”.Let us return to British politics. You passed from the Conservative to the Liberal-Democratic Party. Your position on European integration and the Conservatives’ collocation in the EP that left the PPE group to join the new Conservative and Reformist group, marked by euro-skepticism probably influenced your decision. Your new party is part of the government coalition with the Tories. Will Great Britain grow closer to the EU or will it further distance itself from it?“It will certainly draw closer to Europe, and the Liberal-Democrats, who are pro-Europeans, will uphold this stance. They will sit at the government to ensure my Country’s commitment for the EU”. It can be imagined it will be a Europeanist position that will grant equal importance to the interests of the U.K….“Exactly. As an example, in the programmatic agreement signed by Cameron and Clegg (the leaders of the two government-coalition parties ed.’s note) the request of a single EP seat, in Brussels, was put in writing. It’s the first time that a Member State submits a similar official request. It involves saving €200 million per year, and citizens are sensitive over these issues. It is a stance that we will support”.

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