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Paved with Good Intentions. Latent Ambiguities of Empowering Parliaments after Lisbon

& Stuchlik Andrej Buzogány Aron

Both the subsidiarity control and the early-warning mechanism of the Lisbon Treaty received much attention as they promised to rebalance the position of national and regional parliaments which were seen as losers of the integration process. One year later and beyond formal scrutiny capacity and good intentions, the question remains whether these novelties did actually succeed. Based on insights from two ongoing research projects on the changing role of national and regional parliaments in the European multi-level governance system, the paper offers two interrelated perspectives: The first assesses the formal and informal changes that took place regarding the position of national parliaments following the Lisbon Treaty. The second perspective offers a closer look to development in the German Bundestag and the regional parliaments. What emerges from both perspectives is that while there is significant activism among legislative actors that could lead to an improved scrutiny of EU decision-making, actual change has been very limited. Reasons for this are both institutional and structural. First, the new provisions only partly shift control back to national legislatures not only because they imply unrealistically high thresholds but also because their involvement takes place, if at all, at a too late stage in the EU policy-cycle. Second, the incentives of individual MPs to engage in matters of subsidiarity are low and will continue to do so. We discuss three potential solutions to remedy this situation (i) strengthening interaction between parliaments and administration, (ii) use of informal (informational) networks, and (iii) promoting role change of subsidiarity stakeholders.

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