NATIONAL PARLIAMENTS ARE CENTRAL ACTORS IN THE SCRUTINY AND implementation of European Union (EU) legislation. Member state legislatures provide a channel for incorporating public opinion into the governance of the Union. Their importance has become more evident during the 1990s as debate has focused on the democratic deficit and deparliamentarization of European governance.
National parliaments are involved in EU decision-making in three ways: they 1) participate in national policy formulation on Union legislation; 2) monitor the behaviour of member state representatives in the Council of Ministers and the European Council; and 3) have functions specifically regulated in the treaties, such as ratification of treaty amendments and implementation of directives. The third function differs from the first two as the treaties impose rights and duties on the national parliaments, whereas there is no EU law on national policy formulation on Union legislation or on the scrutiny of ministers. During the 1996-97 Intergovernmental Conference (ICC) the member states saw no need for such European-level regulation. Thus it is up to each national parliament – within the limits set by member state constitutions and other constraints – to decide how it deals with the challenges brought by EU membership.