National Parliaments and the European Union
Constitutional Challenge for the Oireachtas and
Other Member State Legislatures

Editor: Dr Gavin Barrett | ISBN: 1-905536-02-X | Format: Hardback | Extent: 525 pages
Price: €99 | Publication Date: January 2008


Membership of the European Union has meant a gradual shift of decision-making powers from national level to European level in a broad range of policy fields. At European level, one of the dilemmas which has had to be confronted has been how best to incorporate an input by national parliaments into the European policy-making process. Within Member State systems, most thought has had to be given to how to avoid excessive dominance of the legislative branch of national government by the executive in policy fields regulated at European level as government ministers from twenty-five Member States meet regularly to agree to European-wide legislation on a range of issues which has expanded greatly over the years.

This book examines the extent to which national legislatures, such as the Irish Oireachtas, have shown themselves able to react to-date to what is simultaneously an opportunity and a challenge to their position vis-à-vis the executive branch of government.

Divided into three Parts, National Parliaments and the European Union: The Constitutional Challenge for the Oireachtas and Other Member State Legislatures begins with some general reflections on national parliaments and the European Union today, focusing mainly on their success or lack of it in exercising control over national governments. The particular experience of Ireland and the Oireachtas is then looked at, with emphasis being placed on rapidly evolving areas such as asylum and immigration, security and defence policy and justice cooperation generally. Finally, the experience of a selection of other Member State parliaments in confronting the same challenge—namely, those of the United Kingdom, France, the Nordic States, the Netherlands and Slovenia—is examined.

This book includes contributions by prominent lawyers, political scientists and practitioners not merely from Ireland but from all over the European Union. It is the first Irish work to look at these issues, and is essential reading for lawyers and political scientists, civil servants and anyone concerned about democracy in Ireland and the broader European Union.

About the Editor

Dr Gavin Barrett is a Senior Lecturer in European Law at University College Dublin.

Note: this book is being published in association with the Institute of European Affairs.

Contents include

Introduction Dr. Gavin Barrett (University College Dublin)

PART I: National Parliaments and the European Union Today – Some General Reflections

1. Ensuring Democratic Control over National Governments in
European Affairs
Tapio Raunio (University of Turku, Finland)
2. Shifts in Governance: National Parliaments and Their Governments’
Involvement in European Union Decision-Making
Leonard F.M. Besselink (University of Utrecht)
3. National Parliaments in the Architecture of Europe After the
Constitutional Treaty
Andreas Maurer (Freie Universität Berlin)
4. Ensuring Democratic Scrutiny of European Union Affairs – Prior to
Treaty Amendments
John Temple Lang (University of Oxford)
5. Some Reflections from the United Kingdom on the Role of National
Parliaments in the European Union
Adam Cygan (University of Leicester)

PART II: Ireland, the Oireachtas and the European Union

6. Oireachtas Control over Government Activity at European Union
Level: Reflections on the Historical Context and the Legal Framework
Gavin Barrett (University College Dublin)
7. Democratic Control over Governmental Action in European
Matters: the Example of Justice and Home Affairs
Michael McDowell (former Tánaiste and Minister for Justice)
8. European Community Asylum and Immigration Policy-Making –
Integrating a Role for the Oireachtas?’
Cathryn Costello (University of Oxford)
9. Democratic Oversight over the Irish Government in the Field of
the Common Foreign and Security Policy
Ben Tonra (University College Dublin)
10. Parliamentary Scrutiny of European Affairs in Ireland – The
European Affairs Committee, the Scrutiny Committee and the
European Union (Scrutiny) Act 2002
Lia O’Hegarty (former Parliamentary Law Advisor to the Oireachtas)
11. What is the Role of a Committee on European Affairs?
Katherine Meenan (Policy Advisor, Joint Oireachtas Committee on European

12. Ireland’s National Forum on Europe: Helping to Make Up for
the Democratic Deficit?
Tony Brown (National Forum on Europe)

PART III: Other Member State Parliaments and the European Union

13. Parliamentary Scrutiny in the United Kingdom Parliament and the
Changing Role of National Parliaments in European Union Affairs
Christopher Kerse (Legal Adviser, European Union Committee, House of Lords)
14. Too Little, Too Late? Comparing the Engagement of Nordic
Parliaments in European Union Matters
Tapio Raunio and Matti Wiberg (University of Turku, Finland)
15. Ensuring Democratic Control over National Government in
European Affairs – the Slovenian Experience
Danica Fink-Hafner (University of Ljubljana, Slovenia)
16. Parliamentary Scrutiny over European Union Decision-Making in
the Netherlands
Ronald Holzhacker (University of Twente, the

17. Ensuring Democratic Control Over National Government in
European Affairs: the French Model
David Siritzky (Assemblée Nationale, France)
18. COSAC – its Role to Date and its Potential in the Future
Morten Knudsen and Yves Carl (COSAC Permanent Secretariat)