Yesterday Sajjad presented his annual draft report on Subsidiarity & Proportionality for 2013-14 to the Legal Affairs Committee (JURI) at the European Parliament in Brussels.
This is the fourth consecutive year that he has reviewed the issued, which remains a key priority of the Conservatives whilst the UK is still a Member of the European Union.
Subsidiarity & Proportionality essentially means that in areas in which the European Union does not have exclusive competence, the principle of subsidiarity seeks to safeguard the ability of the Member States to take decisions and action, authorising intervention by the Union when the objectives of an action cannot be sufficiently achieved by the Member States, and vice versa.
In a nutshell, it seeks to reduce the ‘democratic deficit’ by making sure that decisions are taken as closely as possible to the citizen.
Sajjad’s report includes several findings and suggestions, including the idea of a green card that would give national parliaments the opportunity to introduce, amend or repeal legislation.
It will be voted on in JURI at the end of the year and is likely to be voted on by the European Parliament next year.
Sajjad outlined the findings and suggestions, as follows:
• Subsidiarity checks can be considered an important tool to reduce the ‘democratic deficit’ and make sure that decisions are taken as closely as possible to the citizen.
• Some national parliaments have highlighted that the Commission’s legislative proposals have not sufficiently justified subsidiarity and proportionality or it is worse still non-existent.
• National parliaments have also called for the eight week period to issue a reasoned opinion to be extended
• The Impact Assessment Board deemed more than 32% of impact assessments reviewed by them in 2014 to have carried out an insufficient analysis of the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality.
• Consideration should be given via a review of the Treaties and Protocol aspects about the number of national parliament responses required to trigger a ‘yellow card’ or ‘orange card’ procedure, the implications if the threshold is reached, whether a red card should be introduced which would effectively brake legislation if a significant number of national parliaments express subsidiarity concerns.
• The idea of a green card could also be considered as it would give national parliaments the opportunity to introduce, amend or repeal legislation.
• Proportionality is often overlooked but it is just as important as subsidiarity. Therefore, in my report, Sajjad has asked the Commission to systematically carry out enhanced proportionality assessments, with detailed evaluations of the different legislative options at its disposal. This could lead to proposals which are unnecessarily burdensome on SMEs, for example, being discarded. Reasoned opinions by national parliaments should also evaluate proportionality in my view.
• Finally Sajjad suggested considering whether criteria in the form of non-binding guidelines might be useful at EU level in order to evaluate compliance with subsidiary and proportionality. However, such guidelines would need to be developed strictly and fairly in consultation with national parliaments