Cooperation between the Commission and national parliaments

The Treaty on the 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
  • the political dialogue allows 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 a legislative proposal concerns a policy area that falls under a shared competence, the Commission sends it 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 and may trigger the 'yellow' or 'orange' card procedures.

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. It does so in the form of an aggregated response if it has received a significant number of reasoned opinions.

Both national Parliaments’ opinions and Commission replies are published online.

National parliament opinions and Commission replies

The political dialogue is also carried out through:

  • Visits and meetings at both political and administrative levels. Most national Parliaments hold meetings with members of the Commission regularly.
  • Commission participation in inter-parliamentary meetings and conferences
  • Commission officials' participation in meetings with national Parliament committees and representatives, on request 

Annual reports

Since 2005, the Commission publishes annually a report on its relations with national Parliaments. The Commission also submits every year, in line with Protocol No 2 to the Treaties, a report on the application of the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality. Given the important role that national Parliaments play in monitoring the application of the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality, the Commission decided to merge the two reports in 2018.

Annual reports on relations with national Parliaments (up to 2017)

Annual reports on the application of the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality and relations with national Parliaments (from 2018)

Resolutions received from regional Parliaments

The Treaty provides in Article 6 of Protocol No 2 that national Parliaments, when preparing a reasoned opinion, can consult, where appropriate, regional Parliaments with legislative powers. Some regional Parliaments send resolutions on Commission proposals or contributions to public consultations directly to the Commission, who replies in substance to such input from regional Parliaments.

Documents