More than rubber-stamping? On the contestation of EU law in national parliaments

Robert Zbíral (Masaryk University)

In the process of European integration national parliaments have undoubtedly lost some of their legislative clout. Working against this trend, national MPs have clawed some of their influence back through exercising ex ante scrutiny of EU legislation. However, since many national parliaments play a central role in the transposition of EU legislation their scrutiny may not be confined to the stages prior to the adoption of new policies in Brussels. Are national parliaments then more than rubber-stamp institutions when it comes to implementing EU policies? The answer is “sometimes”, notes Robert Zbíral in his article “Comparing the intensity of scrutiny for ‘domestic’ and implementing bills: does transposition of EU law reduce political contestation in national parliaments?” published in the Journal of European Public Policy. Using data from the Czech Chamber of Deputies and the Slovak National Council, Robert shows that MPs are generally less motivated to scrutinize EU law transposition bills than purely domestic legislation. Yet, his data uncovers a break in this pattern once power relations between government and the opposition are taken into account. Robert notes that “a weak position of government lowers the distinction between EU and member state bills, as even the former become part of political battles between executive and opposition.”