Euro area: National Parliaments, surveillance mechanisms & ownership

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Coordination and surveillance mechanisms play an increasingly important role in EU Economic Governance. Involving national parliaments has been widely acknowledged as a key to contribute to ensuring legitimacy, ownership and accountability in the Economic and Monetary Union. Despite the creation and the strengthening of the European Semester, acceptance of the common rules and compliance in member states are still too low.

This study asks to what extent the role of national parliaments and national political ownership can help to explain the lack of compliance and how recent reforms have contributed to improving the situation. National parliaments of crisis-hit countries have been weaker in the annual budget process than the national parliaments of other EU member states. In the European Semester, most national parliaments scrutinise the Stability and Convergence Programmes and National Reform Programmes that their governments submit to the European Commission each year at the end of April. Hearings with European Commissioners also take place more often. But, in general, parliamentary scrutiny could be enhanced further: The adaptation of national parliaments to the stronger surveillance and coordination mechanisms in the Economic and Monetary Union has so far only happened in an asymmetric way.

The public opinion of those countries that had a low implementation record for Country-Specific Recommendations and whose national parliaments did not obtain new prerogatives in the European Semester is particularly in favour of more economic policy coordination. Thus, as a contribution to the debate on strengthening and completing Europe’s Economic and Monetary Union, this study puts forward five options for better parliamentary control at the national level and the European level.