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Lisbon Treaty: national level competences to be transferred to the EU

category national | eu | opinion/analysis author Wednesday June 11, 2008 10:27author by Howard Holby Report this post to the editors

The areas in which national competences will be or potentially will be transferred to the Union, and the procedure of how the national parliaments may try to retain the remainder of their competences.

TREATY ON THE FUNCTIONING OF THE EUROPEAN UNION
[Consolidated version as amended by the Treaty of Lisbon]

Article 2
2. The Member States shall exercise their competence to the extent that the Union has not exercised its competence. The Member States shall again exercise their competence to the extent that the Union has decided to cease exercising its competence.
3. The Member States shall coordinate their economic and employment policies within arrangements as determined by this Treaty, which the Union shall have competence to provide.
4. The Union shall have competence, in accordance with the provisions of the Treaty on European Union, to define and implement a common foreign and security policy, including the progressive framing of a common defence policy.

Article 3
1. The Union shall have exclusive competence in the following areas:
(a) customs union;
(b) the establishing of the competition rules necessary for the functioning of the internal market ;
(c) monetary policy for the Member States whose currency is the euro;
(d) the conservation of marine biological resources under the common fisheries policy;
(e) common commercial policy.

2. The Union shall also have exclusive competence for the conclusion of an international agreement when its conclusion is provided for in a legislative act of the Union or is necessary to enable the Union to exercise its internal competence, or insofar as its conclusion may affect common rules or alter their scope.

Article 4
1. The Union shall share competence with the Member States where the Treaties confer on it a competence which does not relate to the areas referred to in Articles 3 and 6.
2. Shared competence between the Union and the Member States applies in the following principal areas:
(a) internal market;
(b) social policy, for the aspects defined in this Treaty;
(c) economic, social and territorial cohesion;
(d) agriculture and fisheries, excluding the conservation of marine biological
resources;
(e) environment;
(f) consumer protection;
(g) transport;
(h) trans-European networks;
(i) energy;
(j) area of freedom, security and justice;
(k) common safety concerns in public health matters, for the aspects defined in this Treaty.

3. In the areas of research, technological development and space, the Union shall have competence to carry out activities, in particular to define and implement programmes; however, the exercise of that competence shall not result in Member States being prevented from exercising theirs.
4. In the areas of development cooperation and humanitarian aid , the Union shall have competence to carry out activities and conduct a common policy; however, the exercise of that competence shall not result in Member States being prevented from exercising theirs.

Article 5
1. The Member States shall coordinate their economic policies within the Union. To this end, the Council shall adopt measures, in particular broad guidelines for these policies.
Specific provisions shall apply to those Member States whose currency is the euro.
2. The Union shall take measures to ensure coordination of the employment policies of the Member States, in particular by defining guidelines for these policies.
3. The Union may take initiatives to ensure coordination of Member States’ social policies.

Article 6
The Union shall have competence to carry out actions to support, coordinate or supplement the actions of the Member States. The areas of such action shall, at European level, be:
(a) protection and improvement of human health;
(b) industry;
(c) culture;
(d) tourism;
(e) education, vocational training, youth and sport;
(f) civil protection;
(g) administrative cooperation.


The so called areas of ‘shared competence’ are only temporarily shared; the transfer of these will be subject to future decisions of the Union, which however will be subject to future changes of the treaties due to their self-amending capabilities.

With the exception of the areas of development cooperation and humanitarian aid, research, technological development and space, in which shared competence shall not result in Member States being prevented from exercising theirs, if the Union once exercised its competence, it will be considered transferred to the Union:
Article 2:
2. The Member States shall exercise their competence to the extent that the Union has not exercised its competence. The Member States shall again exercise their competence to the extent that the Union has decided to cease exercising its competence.


Under Lisbon, the so called principles of “subsidiarity” and “proportionality” will determine the extent to which the Union may exercise its competence.

TREATY ON EUROPEAN UNION
[Consolidated version as amended by the Treaty of Lisbon]
Article 5
1. The limits of Union competences are governed by the principle of conferral. The use of Union competences is governed by the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality.

3. Under the principle of subsidiarity, in areas which do not fall within its exclusive competence, the Union shall act only if and insofar as the objectives of the proposed action cannot be sufficiently achieved by the Member States, either at central level or at regional and local level, but can rather, by reason of the scale or effects of the proposed action, be better achieved at Union level.”

4. Under the principle of proportionality, the content and form of Union action shall not exceed what is necessary to achieve the objectives of the Treaties.


However the central objective of the Treaties is to achieve full cohesion among the member states, which is a goal better achieved when all the competences are exercised at Union level.

This is how the rest of the national competences would be transferred gradually to the EU:

PROTOCOL ON THE APPLICATION OF THE PRINCIPLES OF SUBSIDIARITY AND PROPORTIONALITY

Article 3
For the purposes of this Protocol, ‘draft legislative acts’ shall mean proposals from the Commission, initiatives from a group of Member States, initiatives from the European Parliament, requests from the Court of Justice, recommendations from the European Central Bank and requests from the European Investment Bank for the adoption of a legislative act.

Article 4
The Commission shall forward its draft legislative acts and its amended drafts to national Parliaments at the same time as to the Union legislator.
The European Parliament shall forward its draft legislative acts and its amended drafts to national Parliaments.
The Council shall forward draft legislative acts originating from a group of Member States, the Court of Justice, the European Central Bank or the European Investment Bank and amended drafts to national Parliaments.
Upon adoption, legislative resolutions of the European Parliament and positions of the Council shall be forwarded by them to national Parliaments.


This is how a national parliament may try to fight for retaining the rest of its competences:

(from the above protocol)
Article 6:
Any national Parliament or any chamber of a national Parliament may, within eight weeks from the date of transmission of a draft legislative act, in the official languages of the Union, send to the Presidents of the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission a reasoned opinion stating why it considers that the draft in question does not comply with the principle of subsidiarity. It will be for each national Parliament or each chamber of a national Parliament to consult, where appropriate, regional parliaments with legislative powers.

Article 7:
3. Furthermore, under the ordinary legislative procedure, where reasoned opinions on the non-compliance of a proposal for a legislative act with the principle of subsidiarity represent at least a simple majority of the votes allocated to the national Parliaments in accordance with the second subparagraph of paragraph 1, the proposal must be reviewed. After such review, the Commission may decide to maintain, amend or withdraw the proposal.
If it chooses to maintain the proposal, the Commission will have, in a reasoned opinion, to justify why it considers that the proposal complies with the principle of subsidiarity. This reasoned opinion, as well as the reasoned opinions of the national Parliaments, will have to be submitted to the Union legislator, for consideration in the procedure:
(a) before concluding the first reading, the legislator (the European Parliament and the Council) shall consider whether the legislative proposal is compatible with the principle of subsidiarity, taking particular account of the reasons expressed and shared by the majority of national Parliaments as well as the reasoned opinion of the Commission; (b) if, by a majority of 55 % of the members of the Council or a majority of the votes cast in the European Parliament, the legislator is of the opinion that the proposal is not compatible with the principle of subsidiarity, the legislative proposal shall not be given further consideration.


The final question: after Lisbon who is going to determine if a legislative proposal is compatible with the principle of subsidiarity, that is, who is going to decide if the rest of the competences would remain at national level?

Would it be Ireland with an influence of ca. 1.6% on the decisions of the EU? [1, 2]

References

[1] Top Reasons to Vote NO to Lisbon Treaty
http://www.indymedia.ie/article/87518

[2] [2] “Our future under a ratified Lisbon Treaty – I.”
http://www.indymedia.ie/article/87683

“Our future under a ratified Lisbon Treaty – II.”
http://www.indymedia.ie/article/87712

“Our future under a ratified Lisbon Treaty – III.”
http://www.indymedia.ie/article/87730

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