Alfredo De Feo European pratictioner and researcher

National Parliaments often complain to have no direct grip on EU affairs, even if the Lisbon Treaty formalised their competence over the subsidiarity check on EU legislation.

An area where National Parliaments play a crucial role is the EU resources, the modification of the decision on own resources is submitted to the ratification of National Parliaments.


The decision of the High Level Group on own resources, chaired by Mario Monti, to call to a meeting with representatives of European and National Parliaments has been a looking-forward and wise decision. The meeting, hosted by the European Parliament the 7-8 September 2016, aimed to collect views of the emerging trends in National Parliaments, including reactions to the proposals of potential candidates for taxes, presented in an in-depth analysis commissioned by the HLGOR to a group of experts[1].


Even if the positions were diversified[2], which is not surprising due to the presence of 20 Chambers and the representation of most of political orientations, a number of tendencies were detected in the National Parliament’s positions, reflecting, somehow, the concerns of the European public opinions.


  • The reform of EU mechanisms

The reform of the EU mechanisms and policies has been a recurrent point in the discourse. The outcome of the exit referendum in the UK has probably increased the awareness existing in most EU countries of a wide scepticism and disillusion of the European values.

Subsidiarity, European added value, European Public goods, additionality have been a sort of leitmotiv in most of the discourses. At the same time, there was a recognition of the positive impact of policies like cohesion and competitiveness, not only from net beneficiaries.


  • The European dimension of some of the current challenges

The major challenges facing Europe todays – security, management of migration flux, economic crisis and employment, energy and climate changes, neighbourhood relations, notably south and east – have a clear trans-border dimension. The need to have a more active Europe on these themes has emerged with the full awareness that enhance these policies to a level of effectiveness require political decisions but also resources.

  • The reduction of public spending

The message was clear, not only from net payers: public spending is under pressure and an important shift in the allocation of additional funds to the European project seems unlikely. This is a variable which should not be underestimated in the forthcoming blend of proposals expected by the HLGOR.

  • The importance of communication

The importance of communication is another crucial element which appeared in various interventions. Taxes by definition are difficult and unpopular to explain. Present and defend a European tax might appear a mission impossible. For this reasons, many have stressed the importance to link a tax with policies which might be perceived in a positive way by the public opinion and clearly identified as Public European good (ie border security, management of migrants or climate change). Most of the interventions have stressed the necessity to link the future financing to the expenditure side of the budget. Citizens should know how EU money is spent.



To conclude, the four points highlighted here will certainly be kept in mind in the conclusions that the HLGOR will present to the three Presidents of the EU Institutions. Traditionally the meeting EP-NP does not reach joint conclusions and their recordings and/or minutes are consigned to the archives.


This time might be different, due the competences that they have in the ratification of the own resources decision, whenever it will be presented, National Parliaments have the unique opportunity to take a step forward and give a follow up to the Conference.

National Parliaments could take an initiative, in their respective capitals, to launch a reflexion on the European public spending, advantages and shortcomings, this will be helpful for their governments for the European Institutions and ultimately for the European citizens. MEPs of each countries should be fully involved in this exercise.


The debate on future financing and European public spending is a crucial part of the European project. Promote such a debate at national level, will make the EU project closer to citizens and give the legitimacy to European leaders for their decisions. Large part of the public opinion believe that ‘business as usual’ is no longer an option but that Europe is more than ever necessary, the response should be less Europe on small things and more and stronger Union on the big things, as Jacques Delors taught us and Jean Claude Juncker has promised to deliver.







[1] J. Núñez Ferrer, J.Le Cacheux, G. Benedetto and M. Saunier: Potential and Limitations of Reforming the Financing of the EU Budget,


Other References @

[2] Full recording of the Conference @

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