The wrangling continues. To the world this must present a pretty unedifying spectacle of day-to-day political life here in the EU.
Italy has now threatened to use the veto, Peter Mandelson (taking time out from advising the US on how to handle China) asks Blair to think again, Blair himself is on a whilstlestop, and the whole question of how to handle Turkey admission is – like the proverbial hot potatoe – rapidly moving from one hand to the next.
Yesterday the euro – reeling from the referendum and the ECB rate crisis, went bobbing up and down like a yo-yo, and all in all we’re having a ‘very happy time of it’.
What the EU needs now is some short term success, some visible signs that things actually work, some ‘baby steps’ even.
Well one possible area where things could advance, and to everyones pleasure, might be related to the so-called ‘early warning system’ contained in the Consitution Treaty. Ian Cooper explains:
Subsidiarity, first introduced in the Maastricht Treaty, requires that, in policy areas where competence is shared between the EU and the member states, the EU should not act when action at the national level is more appropriate.
It is a political check on the manner in which the EU exercises its legal powers. In effect, it obliges the EU to think twice before legislating, and to legislate in a way that places fewest limits on the member states? freedom of action. It is an elementary principle of good governance………
The Early Warning System was devised by the Convention that drafted the Constitutional Treaty, as part of its broader mandate to bring the EU “closer to its citizens.”
As such it has a dual purpose, to promote subsidiarity compliance and to enhance the EU?s democratic legitimacy by giving national parliaments a direct role in EU politics for the first time…………..
How exactly would the Early Warning System work? The Commission, the body that initiates legislation, would send all new legislative proposals to national parliaments. Each national parliament would have six weeks to submit a “reasoned opinion” raising objections to a proposal on the grounds that it violates subsidiarity ? in other words, that the matter should be left to national governments.
If one third of national parliaments (9 of the current 25) raise objections, then this constitutes a “yellow card” and the proposal must be formally reviewed. After this review, the Commission may “maintain, amend, or withdraw” the proposal, and must “give reasons” for its decision.
This system would allow national parliaments to intervene early and vocally in the European legislative process………
Eurosceptics will complain that this amounts to smuggling elements of the treaty in through the back door. Europhiles will worry that “cherrypicking” the least objectionable elements of the treaty is a prelude to its abandonment. They should press ahead despite such objections.
There is ample precedent for such a move. In 1992, the people of Denmark voted “no” to the Maastricht Treaty. European leaders, meeting at Edinburgh, seized on that document?s new provisions on subsidiarity to prove to sceptical voters that the nascent EU would not become a federal superstate.
A number of subsidiarity-related reforms, such as the withdrawal of pending legislation, were implemented even before the Maastricht Treaty was fully ratified.