No. 7




The role of the national parliament in the European Union

11 June 2003


RiTo No. 7, 2003

  • Olev Aarma

    European Affairs Committee of Riigikogu, Head of Secretariat and adviser

The EU entry process to date has shown that a state’s executive power’s role strengthens upon accession to the union.

Without analyzing all of the variables contributing to this redistribution of roles, a generalization can be made that it is a process involving the way in which foreign policy is implemented, one where the government has had more relative importance; at the same time, the EU has more effect on a country’s real-life basis than does foreign policy.

Studies have shown that after accession, the role of the parliament depends greatly on the traditional relation between the executive and legislative branch before accession. If the legislative had a relatively nominal role before membership (that is, it merely confirmed the decisions and proposals of the government and proposals), it is unlikely that parliament would receive a greater significance in the decision-making process after entry.

Even though over the last ten years, the debate over the role of the parliament in EU decision-making process has emerged in many forms, the Nordic state representatives to the European Convention with their relatively strong parliamentary tradition have alluded to the fact that it is those states’ parliaments whose role has been smaller who wish to increase their power on the European level through the European parliament.

One can get an overview from the EU-based share of parliamentary work to be done, looking at what is going on with the European Convention. Even though logistically it is unlikely that Tallinn-Brussels traffic would be just as busy, the number of documents stacking up is comparable to the amount of EU-issues-related paper piling up in national parliaments. If you take into account the timing of the EU, the Riigikogu should be ready for efficient and flexible work to establish a strong parliamentary monitoring system and be in a strong position outside Estonia as well. MPs’ knowledge about the EU would help bring the union closer to the people on one hand and at the same time strengthen the Riigikogu’s position as an institution in the eyes of the public.

Full article in Estonian