Are Parliaments (More) Committed to the Trend of Open Government after the Lisbon Treaty? The Italian and the Spanish Cases
Forthoming in I. Bouhadana, W. Gilles, I. Nguyên-Duy & R. Weaver, Parliaments in the Open Government Era, Les éditions IMODEV, 2015
27 Pages Posted: 19 Mar 2015
Date Written: March 12, 2015
The Treaty of Lisbon and in particular the early warning mechanism (hereinafter EWM) have drawn the attention of many scholars as concerns the ability of national parliaments to influence EU law-making and the substance of EU legislation, the nature of this new power, and finally the implications of the introduction of this new mechanism for the relationship among parliaments. However, the effects of the Treaty of Lisbon’s provisions on the transparent operations of national parliaments have been largely disregarded. Indeed, besides aiming to put the EU legislative competence under control, one of the original intents of the procedure, firstly conceived during the Convention on the future of Europe, was to bring the EU legislative process closer to national polities. Such an objective became even more important after the result of the Dutch and the French referenda on the Constitutional Treaty. Given the fact that the EU institutions are traditionally perceived by EU citizens as detached from their local and particular interests, the involvement of national parliaments at the very early stage of the European legislative process would have helped to make these procedures more understandable to them.
The paper aims to analyse the effects of the new Treaty of Lisbon’s provisions – and especially the EWM - on national parliaments and, more specifically, on how they promote the idea of Open government. No obligations for national parliaments to improve the transparency of their activities directly stem from the EU Treaties provisions on the EWM, in part because this requirement would probably have encroached upon the Member States’ constitutional autonomy. Nonetheless Protocol no. 1 and Protocol no. 2 annexed to the Treaty of Lisbon support such a development when they ask for the direct transmission of all EU draft legislative acts and documents, once translated, to national parliaments, and leave open to each national parliament the opportunity to consult regional parliaments with legislative powers in the EWM.
Indeed, it appears that the provisions contained in the new Treaty have brought some changes in how national parliaments and governments operate as regards the disclosure of information dealing with the EU policy-making for civil society participation. The paper is based on a comparative legal analysis of the Italian and Spanish Parliaments and their developments as more ‘open parliaments’ on EU matters in the light of the EU Treaties’ innovations.
Keywords: Parliaments, Open Government, Treaty of Lisbon, Transparency, Accountability, Italy, Spain
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