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The Riksdag's work on EU matters works well but could be further developed

Published: 16 February 2018 at 12.43

Updated: 16 February 2018 at 12.43

The Riksdag's work on EU matters works well overall. However, the All-party EU Committee has a small number of proposals regarding amendments to the Riksdag Act to enable the text of the Act to better reflect how work on EU matters is actually conducted.

The Riksdag Board received the All-party EU Committee’s report on EU work at the Riksdag on 14 February. The Committee had been tasked by the Riksdag Board to go through the provisions regarding the Riksdag’s work on EU matters and to provide information on how this work is carried out in practice. 

– “I am happy that the Committee has been able to reach broad agreement on how work on EU matters at the Riksdag should be conducted and our hope is that this will result in increased clarity and efficiency”, says the Chair of the Committee Tobias Billström (Moderate Party).

Two proposed new procedures

The Committee’s conclusion is that both the provisions for the Riksdag’s work on EU matters and the way they are applied in practice are generally appropriate. However, the Committee has presented a small number of proposals regarding amendments to the Riksdag Act that aim to enable the text of the Act to better reflect how work on EU matters is actually conducted. Two of the amendments aim to introduce new procedures.  It should be possible for the Riksdag both to choose which of the European Commission’s green and white papers it is to examine rather than having to examine all of them, and to choose a delegation to the Joint Parliamentary Scrutiny Group for Europol.

Earlier contact with the Government

The EU Committee maintains that extensive contact with the Government in order to monitor and influence Sweden’s positions in the EU constitute the basis of the Riksdag's work on EU matters. In order to ensure that the Riksdag’s influence should also have an impact at EU level, it is important that this contact with the Government focuses on the early stages of the EU decision-making process. Not only does the Committee emphasise the Riksdag committees’ responsibility to follow developments in the EU, but also the Government’s responsibility to keep the committees informed and aware of when they need to request deliberations with the Government.

Consultation with the Committee on EU Affairs on A items

The Government consults the Committee on EU Affairs when formal decisions are to be taken on matters for which negotiations have been completed. These are known as A items. The Committee considers that consultation on A items has advantages that justify retaining this type of consultation, even if the chances of influencing an EU decision at this concluding stage are very small. In the case of the requirement for the Government to consult the Committee on EU Affairs prior to informal EU summits, the EU Committee has concluded that it should be possible for the Prime Minister to participate in such meetings without first consulting the Committee on EU Affairs.

Recognising dialogue with the Commission without extending it

One of the objectives of the Riksdag’s consideration of strategic EU documents in scrutiny statements is to help bring about broad support and stimulate debate at an early stage in the consideration of EU matters. The EU Committee considers that the Riksdag should:accept the view that the Riksdag, in its capacity as a national parliament, should participate in an informal dialogue with the Commission via the scrutiny statements with which the Commission is already familiar today. Extending the dialogue beyond this is not a matter of current consideration. This also has a bearing on the process of subsidiarity checking by the Riksdag of EU proposals, where the EU Committee urges the committees to limit themselves only to their examination of the application of the principle of subsidiarity and to present other points of view on the draft legislation in question by means of deliberations with the Government.

Increased transparency through more EU debates

The EU Committee believes that the Riksdag can contribute to transparency in its handling of EU matters by holding more EU debates in the Chamber, both on various specific issues and on more general and strategic perspectives. The Riksdag committees should  hold more public hearings on current EU issues.

Both the Sweden Democrats and the Left Party have partially differing opinions

The representatives from the Sweden Democrats and the Left Party in the EU Committee have entered reservations against parts of the Committee’s conclusions. Both of the reservations recommend increased transparency in the Committee on EU Affairs. The Sweden Democrats also have a number of other objections.

What happens now?

At Wednesday’s meeting, the Riksdag Board decided to circulate the All-party EU Committee’s report for comment. After the report has been circulated for comment, the Riksdag Board is expected in June to decide whether it should be submitted to the Riksdag for consideration in the autumn.

Background

The All-party EU Committee was appointed by the Riksdag Board in June 2016. The then First Deputy Speaker Tobias Billström (Moderate Party) was appointed Chair. The members of the Committee were Marie Granlund (Social Democratic Party), Emanuel Öz (Social Democratic Party) Åsa Westlund (Social Democratic Party), Eva Thalén Finné (Moderate Party), Marta Obminska (Moderate Party), Jonas Eriksson (Green Party), Eskil Erlandsson (Centre Party), Jens Holm (Left Party), Tina Acketoft (Liberal Party), Tuve Skånberg (Christian Democrats) and Patrick Reslow (–) who represented the Sweden Democrats in the Committee.

Documents

Report by the All-party EU Committee 2017/18:URF1 Work on EU matters in the Riksdag, Summary in English(pdf, 127 kB)