Subsidiarity, democratic deficit and posting of workers

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by Professor Alessandra Silveira, Editor

The Lisbon Treaty introduced new contents to the role of national parliaments in the EU decision making process alongside the respect for the principle of subsidiarity by the European institutions. According to article 5, No. 3, TEU under the scope of non-exclusive competences, the Union only intervenes if the objectives of certain action (i) cannot be sufficiently achieved by Member States (efficiency criterion) and (ii) can be better achieved by the EU due to its dimension or intended effects (added value criterion).

So, since the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty, Protocols No. 1 and No. 2 annexed to the treaties allow that national parliaments evaluate the compliance of the European draft legislative acts with the principle of subsidiarity – and if they conclude that there is incompliance, the respective reasoned opinion shall address this understanding. Under the ordinary legislative procedure, if the reasoned opinions represent at least a simple majority of the votes allocated to the national parliaments, the European Commission proposal must be reviewed. It can be amended, withdrawn or sustained (Article 7, No. 3, Protocol No. 2).

Nevertheless, it is important to test the national parliament’s arguments in order to confirm if (i) they have legal grounds to claim the infringement of subsidiarity and (ii) the result of such parliamentary intervention can be regarded as positive to the EU legal system as a whole. Even though this proposed exercise does not compromise, theoretically, the democratic relevance of national parliament’s participation in the EU’s decision making process, it can point out some fragilities concerning (i) the appreciation of the European integration process by national parliamentary authorities and (ii) the adequacy of the EU democratic deficit narrative and the instruments created so far to face it.

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National Parliaments’ yellow card to posted workers reform

Social rights are at the core of current debates on the EU, from budgetary deficit limits to mechanisms fighting unemployment, passing by the “Brexit/Bremain” referendum.

Recently, some national parliaments have expressed their opinions about one relevant aspect to the social model of the EU, the posted workers’ rights which may undergo a revision after the Commission issued a proposal.

Here is a sample of how the parliaments consider the matter.

Eleven EU member states have shown a yellow card to the European Commission over its recent proposal to warrant equal pay to posted workers“, via euobserver.

 

According to several European diplomats, the national parliaments of 11 countries, including Poland, Denmark, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, have enough votes under EU rules to trigger the “yellow card” procedure against the Commission’s revised new text on so-called “posted workers. It would be only the third time the yellow card procedure has been used since it was set up under the Treaty of Lisbon“, via politico.eu.

 

An attempt by the European Commission to revise the contentious Posted Workers directive is likely to fail, as the national parliaments of at least ten member states from Central and Eastern Europe are reported have used a yellow card to stop the legislation“, via euractiv.