Cooperation between the Commission and national parliaments

The treaty on European Union significantly increases the role of national parliaments in EU decision-making.

There are two main ways in which national parliaments and the Commission cooperate:

  • the subsidiarity control mechanism allows national parliaments to assess whether new legislative proposals comply with the principle of subsidiarity
  • political dialogue, which is the exchange of information and opinions on policy issues, legislative and non-legislative initiatives

Documents sent to national parliaments

The Commission systematically sends certain documents to national parliaments. They include legislative proposals, green and white papers, communications, the annual legislative programme and other planning or policy documents.

When legislative proposals concern a policy area that falls under shared competence, the Commission sends proposals to national parliaments to allow them to check if action should be taken at EU level (the subsidiarity principle). This process is called the subsidiarity control mechanism.

Apart from the documents mentioned above, the Commission also sends additional documents to national parliaments, in particular documents addressed to the Council. National parliaments are also alerted when the Commission launches public consultations.

Political dialogue

National parliaments can issue opinions on Commission documents or policy areas where the Commission has power to act. The Commission aims to reply to such opinions within three months.

The Commission also replies within the framework of the political dialogue to reasoned opinions received under the subsidiarity control mechanism where the thresholds for triggering the 'yellow' or 'orange' card procedures have not been met.

Both national parliament opinions and Commission replies are published online.

National parliament opinions and Commission replies

Political dialogue is also carried out through:

  • Visits and meetings at both political and administrative levels. Most national parliaments have meetings with members of the Commission on a regular basis
  • Commission participation in inter-parliamentary meetings and conferences
  • Commission officials' participation in meetings with national Parliament committees and representatives, on request 

Documents