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Thursday, August 26, 2010

This could be interesting

Do you remember all that talk about how national parliaments would be strenghtened under the Lisbon Treaty (something which the pro-Lisbon camp continuously banged on about, presenting it as a 'fact', when in reality it's anything but)?

We've looked at what post-Lisbon life is like for national parliaments many times before (and it ain't that pretty), but it now appears that national parliaments' "new powers" to challenge proposals from the Commission are being tested for the first time.

The Lisbon Treaty says that, in the event that a third of national parliaments - that's 9 - get together to oppose their governments on a piece of legislation, on the specific grounds of 'subsidiarity', and within an 8-week window, then the legislation would have to be reviewed, following which, it would be open to the institution which originated the proposal to choose whether to maintain, amend or withdraw the proposal.

Hardly practical. But the Swedish Parliament (the Riksdag) is determined to give it a try. The Treasury Committee of the Riksdag has raised objections against the Commission's proposed amendments to the Deposit Guarantee Schemes Directive. Under the amended Directive, deposit guarantee schemes must offer depositors up to €50,000, if their bank collapses. The schemes are to be 75 percent pre-funded from bank contributions, with the remainder coming from other sources. However, the Riksdag's Treasury Committee is opposed to a provision in the Commission's proposal which could see Sweden (or any other member state) being forced to lend money to other member states' funds, if these funds face a shortfall in cash.

The Riksdag, going against the Swedish government, said that such mandatory lending could lead to some member states under-funding their deposit schemes, knowing that someone else would be lender of last resort. It also argued that the provision represents a violation of the EU's subsidiarity principle. The Riksdag will now seek to spread the word amongst other parliaments in a bid to get the Commission to reconsider the proposal.

One tiny problem: many national parliaments around Europe are on recess at the moment - including the UK's. To muster the support of an additional eight will be a difficult task indeed.

This is one to watch.

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