Why National Parliaments in the EU Should Be Empowered

big-benOn Monday 12 October 2015, a panel of experts will to discuss the role of national parliaments in the debate on the EU at an event at the UCL European Institute. Here, Sandra Kröger, lecturer in politics of the University of Exeter, talks about the ‘democratic disconnect’ in the European Union between domestic and EU-level political institutions. She proposes that national parliaments can, and should, be empowered, but also that national parliamentarians need to make better use of the powers already available to them by engaging more closely with EU affairs.

In early 2013, UK Prime Minister David Cameron has publicly announced a referendum on European Union (EU) membership by the end of 2017 should he be re-elected in 2015. He has since linked the now certain referendum to the re-negotiation and eventual re-location of certain competences to the UK as well as the possibility, for the UK, to opt out of specific policies. Just how convincing such demands are in the light of the recent British government’s own balance of competences review not finding any competences that should be returned to Westminster is open to debate. Be that as it may, one central demand of Cameron is a ‘bigger and more significant role’ for National Parliaments (NPs), reflecting a desire for more national democracy. Continue reading

Lord Kerr Speaks for Those Who Care about Britain in Europe

Albert Weale, Professor of Political Theory and Public Policy at UCL, discusses David Cameron’s tactics as he prepares to fight for reform of the European Union. It remains unclear what Cameron wants from the other European governments, but he risks alienating any allies through his current negotiation strategies.

Suppose you were in dispute with your bank about the way your account was being handled.  How would you deal with the matter? Would you try to identify the issues and have a rational conversation with the organisation or would you bluster, make some general accusations and threaten to close your account unless some yet to be identified changes were made? If you were sensible, you would do the first, never the second.

Transpose this situation to Britain’s relationship with the European Union. For the last five years, David Cameron has been the epitome of bluster, making general but unspecified complaints and threatening to walk out if he does not get his way. Yet no one knows what he wants even if he did get his way.

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