Who’s Afraid of National Parliaments’ “Green Card”?

Five years from the entry of the Lisbon Treaty into force, national parliaments are evaluating the means of their influence and control over the EU law and policies. New ideas and improvements of existing procedures are being tabled. One of them is the so-called green card initiative, explored recently at least by Danish, Dutch and British parliament. Following a discussion paper by Lord Boswell of Aynho, Chairman of the European Affairs Committee of the House of Lords (see a reviewed version) debated at an informal meeting of a group of EU Affairs Committee chairs in Brussels, this idea has been put on the agenda of the upcoming LII COSAC plenary in Latvia with a view to have a broader discussion among the national parliaments and possibly reach an agreement on the procedure for initiating such green card.

The basic idea is that a group of national parliaments would send a contribution to the Commission calling for “new legislative action, or the review, amendment of repeal of existing legislation, including delegated or implemented acts”. In order to rationalise and add political weight to what is in essence a joint letter, the parliaments may wish to agree on a “formal” procedure for adopting green cards.

According to the discussion paper, any parliamentary chamber may formulate a proposal for an EU action, including the reasons, the anticipated benefits and preferred type of reaction from the Commission. This draft will be distributed to other parliamentary chambers which will have six months to decide whether to co-sign it. If one third of the national parliaments do so, the contribution will be submitted to the Commission, designated as a “green card”, which will signify its salience and breadth of support. The “votes” of national parliaments will be counted in the same way as in the early warning mechanism for the principle of subsidiarity, which includes the procedures known as yellow and orange card ...

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