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Heathcoat-Amory: Devolve power to national parliaments

Speech to the European Convention

Mr President, the Laeken Declaration highlights the issue of national parliaments because it recognises that the level at which most people feel democratically represented is through their national parliament. This may be an inconvenient fact, it maybe an unpopular fact, but it is a fact we have to deal with. I commend the working group for its attempt to add to the influence of parliaments, but I have to say that the attempt does not begin to measure up to the scale of the problem that we face. Realising it does not put parliaments any further up the decision-making chain. Until this is done, we are really only moving the furniture about on the ship.

In particular, and I am sorry to be critical at this point, we seem to be giving birth to this unidentified political object which we now call a congress. This congress is defined entirely by what it does not do. It is, we hear, not an institution. It is a kind of non-institution, an anti-institution. It does not have any powers, it does upset the institutional balance in any way. What is it? I am afraid we must grapple with this issue and face up to the fact that if we are to going to deliver on the mandate of Laeken, we must change the institutional balance in favour of national parliaments. Until we face up to that, the good intentions of this working group will have failed.

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