National parliaments in the EU
The Treaty of Lisbon set out for the first time the role of national parliaments within the European Union. National parliaments can, for instance, scrutinise draft EU laws to see if they respect the principle of subsidiarity, participate in the revision of EU treaties,or take part in the evaluation of EU policies on freedom, security and justice.
The Lisbon Treaty also specified that the European Parliament and national parliaments should together determine the organisation and promotion of effective and regular interparliamentary cooperation within the EU. In light of this, the European Parliament adopted in 2009 and 2014 resolutions dealing specifically with the development of relations between the European Parliament and national parliaments.
Bringing together the right people at the right time
Interparliamentary cooperation can take many different forms. The presidents, or speakers, of each national parliament and the European Parliament meet every year and identify the broad guidelines for this cooperation. The EU affairs committees of the national parliaments and MEPs meet regularly in the Conference of Parliamentary Committees for Union Affairs (COSAC). More in-depth discussions on foreign policy or economic governance issues take place in recently created interparliamentary conferences bringing together members of the competent committees from each parliament.
The committees of the European Parliament and of the national parliaments often invite their counterparts for debates on specific EU proposals. In addition, video conferencing gives Parliamentarians the chance to keep in touch and discuss current issues.
The overall objective is always to bring together the right people, on the right topic, at the right time.
Networks for interparliamentary cooperation
The European Parliament actively supports two major networks which facilitate cooperation between parliaments. The Interparliamentary EU Information Exchange (IPEX) allows the parliaments of the European Union to exchange EU-related documents.
The European Centre for Parliamentary Research and Documentation (ECPRD) acts as a channel for information requests whenever a parliament wants to know more about practices and policies in other EU countries.