11th February 2014: Yesterday at the European Parliament in Brussels, Andrew Brons made the following contribution to a debate in the Constitutional Affairs Committee (AFCO) on relations between the Europe Parliament and national parliaments.
"The Report is, in essence, asking the question; "What are national parliaments for?" The question is not as foolish as it might seem, in view of the enormous shift in legislative competence from member states to the EU.
"It is true that when the EU enacts directives, national parliaments are allowed to put them into their own words. However, their exclusive competence has been shrinking continually. We now know that their main task is to control their member of the Council- their government and presumably to push it further in an integrationist direction.
"I had always thought that their function was to be responsible to their electorates and to take their mandates from those electorates- to be the embodiments of national democracy. However, it seems that their main task is to control the Council and prevent its members from engaging in heretical ways.
"Mr Duff said that states in a federation do not usually have a role to play in federal matters. He is an open and honest federalist. Some others in the EU are less honest about their federalism.
"There was an attempt to include the word 'federal' (or its equivalent in all the languages), in The Maastricht Treaty - now the Treaty on the European Union -including amendments. The word was deleted on the insistence of John Major although the EC and later EU has continued in a federal direction.
"National parliaments must, in my view, revert to their original task to represent the wishes of the people, rather than playing bit parts or cameo roles in a supranational production.
"We must not presume that national parliaments will receive a mandate from their electorates for "a journey toward (ever) greater EU integration" - the words in the first sentence of the Explanatory Memorandum.
"National moods are changing although they stand to be misled by the people who will claim to represent them."