The Netherlands and the European Parliament: investing in a new relationshipFebruary 6, 2013 - nr.81
Summary of the AIV’s findings
1. Increased influence of the European Parliament
The European Parliament has grown into an influential body in all areas in which the EUhas competence. The other EU institutions and the member states must take seriousaccount of it. The EP has strengthened its influence in a variety of ways. Firstly, theLisbon Treaty’s entry into force on 1 December 2009 conferred many new powers on it. In nearly all policy fields, the EP now has as much say on the adoption of legislation as the Council and it also has a say on all EU expenditure. The Treaty also strengthened the EP’s supervision of the European Commission – and to some extent of the Council and the European Council, too. Secondly, the EP has strengthened its power by winning concessions from the Commission outside the Treaty. These powers were laid down in an Interinstitutional Agreement in October 2010. They relate in part to the dismissal of individual commissioners and the initiation of legislation. Thirdly, the EP has increased its influence by adopting a clever negotiating strategy and linking certain dossiers in package deals. The EP makes its assent on issues where it can exercise influence conditional on concessions by the Council in areas where the EP has little influence.
These changes – including the strengthening of the European Council, in part by the euro crisis – has led to a shift in the balance of power among the institutions. The EP’s increased powers offer national governments new opportunities to influence EU decisionmaking by approaching the EP more frequently. We answer the government’s questions by presenting the main conclusions and recommendations from the advisory report below.
2. Stronger identification with the European Parliament
Question: While the EP has gained more powers, enlargement to 27 member states has made it harder for citizens to identify with it. How should the government address this dilemma? The government also invited the AIV to consider how political and public support for the EU can be strengthened.
The increase in the EP’s powers has not strengthened public identification with the institution. Public confidence in the EP has remained relatively low and the turnout for European elections has fallen. The AIV thinks that increasing public esteem for the EP can help restore Dutch popular support for the Union as such, although it will certainly not be easy in the current economic climate. The AIV also thinks that positive or negative public perception of the EP is closely related to the EU’s ability to achieve results in the public interest (output legitimacy), the presence of a recognizable democratic system (input legitimacy) and the extent to which the political debate does justice to these two elements. These are the directions in which the AIV has looked for measures to strengthen identification with the EP.
- The EU must achieve results that benefit its citizens and protect the public interest. The EU’s image will be influenced in part by its success in answering the economic and financial crisis. Many people are concerned about the adverse effects of the internal market on employment and the spending cuts necessitated by strict budgetary discipline. The AIV thinks European citizens would identify more with the EU if it acted as an institutional buffer against the effects of globalisation. In the AIV’s opinion, the EU could play a meaningful role by addressing cross-border social problems (e.g. labour mobility problems). This would complement the national powers of the member states.
The AIV supports the politicisation of European elections. The elections should be a true political contest. The composition and political colour of the Commission should reflect the outcome of European elections.
- The AIV believes the Commission President should be elected by a majority of MEPs every five years following the election of the EP. This would give the President a clearer political mandate and ensure that the election had more direct relevance to citizens.
- In the AIV’s opinion, the drawing up of European voting lists would contribute to the formation of European political parties and European political awareness. In view of the political opposition, however, this is not realistic in the near future.
The AIV supports the greater involvement of national parliaments. Citizens often identify more strongly with national MPs than with MEPs. National parliaments can therefore be a vital link between national and European decision-making.
- Greater synchronisation is needed of debates in the EP and debates in the House of Representatives. When important issues are debated in the EP, they should also be debated in a plenary session of the House. Synchronisation would ensure that political issues debated in the EP are also debated in The Hague.
- On treaty and practical grounds, the AIV dismisses the recurrent wish to introduce the dual mandate, under which members of the national parliament are also members of the EP.
- The AIV also believes the introduction of a European Senate, consisting of MPs from the member states, is undesirable because it would further complicate the already complex European decision-making process.
Greater involvement of national parliaments could contribute to a more recognizable democratic system and increase support. Recommendations on how the Dutch parliament can effectively influence policy are presented in points 17-20.
In the AIV’s opinion, the above proposals to strengthen both output and input legitimacy will be inadequate unless the tone of the political debate changes. Politicians reap what they sow. In the past, they have often created an artificial split between The Hague and Brussels and were sometimes dismissive of the European institutions. This has not been conducive to public identification with Europe.
- It should be emphasised that Europe is not something over which we have no control and that ministers and state secretaries should support the decisions they agree upon in the Council.
- In the AIV’s opinion, politicians should do more to highlight the crucial role played by the EP in the European decision-making process and its function in the European legal community.
3. Promotion of Dutch interests and the European Parliament
Question: How can the government best engage with the new role the EP has assumed since the Lisbon Treaty’s entry into force? How could we increase our influence on EP decision-making?
Question: How does the Netherlands’ cooperation with the EP as co-legislator compare with that of several other member states? What lessons could the Netherlands learn in this regard?
To answer these questions, this report makes a distinction between the following three actors in the Netherlands: the government, the national parliament and interest groups.
The AIV thinks the government’s influence on the EP can be improved in a number of important areas:
- The ministries in The Hague still focus chiefly on the Council. In view of the increased influence of the EP, they should pay more attention to this influential body. The attention paid to both legislative institutions should be better balanced.
- The government must invest in a strategic relationship with the EP and set clear priorities: on which dossiers does it wish to give and on which does it wish to take? According to the AIV, such a strategy should include support for the EP’s position as an actor in the European legal order.
- The AIV believes ministers and state secretaries should visit prominent MEPs more frequently to draw attention to the Dutch position on important dossiers. This happens too infrequently at present.
- The proportion of Dutch MEPs has declined and they hold less prominent positions. The government should therefore invest more in contacts with MEPs from other member states. This will provide opportunities to promote Dutch interests even more effectively.
- The AIV recommends that consideration of the EP’s position be embedded more firmly in the national coordination structure and that the capacity of the civil service be strengthened throughout central government. Inspiration can be drawn from the practice in France and Germany as described in this report.
- The government should deepen its knowledge of the operation of the EP within central government by means of master classes, internships with MEPs and making EU experience compulsory for admission to the Senior Civil Service.
- Direct contact must be permitted between Dutch civil servants and MEPs. The instructions on the external contacts of civil servants, also known as the ‘Kok edict’, should be withdrawn as they set overly strict conditions.
- The Netherlands is poorly represented by civil servants in strategic positions in the EP. The Dutch government could promote the placement of Dutch civil servants in strategic positions in the same way that it does in the case of the Commission.
The national parliament
The AIV makes the following recommendations to strengthen the national parliament’s involvement in decision-making in Brussels:
- The House of Representatives should involve MEPs more frequently in its work. In other parliaments, consultation between national MPs and MEPs is more institutionalised.
- The network of national parliaments’ European affairs committees (COSAC) will gain in value if its agenda is better aligned with political developments. Members of the House should also visit Brussels more often.
- In view of the growing importance of European decision-making on national legislation, the House of Representatives should give it more prominence in its own work, for example during plenary debates.
- The highly praised yellow and orange card procedure has only limited practical value. Moreover it is used chiefly to obstruct EU proposals. The AIV would like to see the procedure complemented with constructive powers, such as the ability to request European legislative initiatives.
Cooperation with interest groups
The AIV believes that joint action by interest groups, the government and parliament would make the Netherlands even more successful in Brussels.
- Few organisations make their positions known when new Commission proposals are evaluated by the Dutch government. Conversely, Dutch civil servants could go to greater lengths to learn about the interest groups’ positions.
- Dutch interest groups could influence the European decision-making process more frequently through the House of Representatives. At present, relatively few groups approach the Dutch parliament at the right moment.
- The AIV recommends that the government establish a task group consisting of political and civil service representatives on the one hand and of interest group representatives on the other to study how coordination can be strengthened in order to maximise Dutch input into decision-making in Brussels.
Finally, the AIV would emphasise that implementing the recommendations to promote Dutch interests will have the intended effect only if, as noted, there is a concomitant change in the tone of the political debate about Europe in general and the EP in particular. The Netherlands will not appreciably increase its influence on EU decisionmaking unless the responsible politicians recognise and communicate the EP’s vital position in European decision-making and its function in the European legal community. It is of fundamental importance that members of the EP and of the national parliament see each other as potential allies that deserve one another’s support.
Mr F. Korthals Altes
Chairman of the Advisory Council
on International Affairs
P.O. Box 20061
2500 EB The Hague
Date November 2011
Re Request for advice on the European Parliament
Dear Mr Korthals Altes,
In the State of the European Union 2011-2012, the government set out its views on the EU. It suggested that the EU’s values and objectives are closely aligned with those of the government. The Union has delivered economic benefits through the internal market and has contributed to peace and security. The government wants to take a realistic approach to the EU, assessing the options on European integration on their merits. It wants to see an effective, decisive Union wherever European action is in the Netherlands’ interest. Conversely, it does not want European policy in areas where intervention is not needed and where member states are perfectly capable of making their own arrangements.
This approach requires good working relationships between the Netherlands and the EU’s institutions. The Treaty of Lisbon, in force for two years now, has modernised the EU’s institutional structure in several ways. One important example is the extra powers conferred on the European Parliament (EP). The codecision procedure, in which the Council and the EP jointly decide on EU legislation, has become the standard legislative procedure. This has increased the EP’s influence on EU decision-making. What’s more, in a number of cases the EP has sought to test its new power against that of the Council.
Against this background we would like to pose the following questions to the AIV.
- How can the government best engage with the new role the EP has assumed since the Lisbon Treaty’s entry into force? How could we increase our influence on EP decision-making?
- How does the Netherlands’ cooperation with the EP as co-legislator compare with that of several other member states? What lessons could the Netherlands learn in this regard?
- While the EP has gained more powers, the enlargement to 27 member states has made it harder for citizens to identify with. How should the government address this dilemma? To what extent is the EP’s credibility affected by issues such as MEPs’ allowances, its sessions in Strasbourg and the increase in the EU budget?
We look forward to receiving your recommendations, preferably in the form of a concise advisory report.
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Minister for European Affairs and International Cooperation
Government response to the AIV advisory report, ‘The Netherlands and the European Parliament: Investing in a New Relationship’
Further to a request by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on 23 November 2011, the Advisory Council on International Affairs (AIV) issued an advisory report on 27 November 2012 entitled ‘The Netherlands and the European Parliament: Investing in a New Relationship’. The report considers the cooperation the Dutch government should take to the European Parliament (EP).
The EP’s influence and powers have increased in recent years since the Treaty of Lisbon came into force in 2009. For example, the legislative procedure now gives the EP and the Council an equal say. The EP has also gained a say in all the EU’s expenditure, but not its income, which remains a national prerogative. Furthermore, the EP’s power and influence have been increased by agreements outside the Treaty such as the Interinstitutional Agreement concluded with the European Commission, the packaging of dossiers and the drawing up of own-initiative reports to prompt the Commission to propose new legislation and the High Representative, Catherine Ashton, to consider certain policies.
In view of the EP’s changing role since the Lisbon Treaty came into force, the government asked the AIV for its opinion on the following three questions:
- How can the government best engage with the new role the EP has assumed since the Lisbon Treaty’s entry into force? How could we increase our influence on EP decision-making?
- How does the Netherlands’ cooperation with the EP as co-legislator compare with that of several other member states? What lessons could the Netherlands learn in this regard?
- While the EP has gained more powers, the enlargement to 27 member states has made it harder for citizens to identify with it. How should the government address this dilemma? To what extent is the EP’s credibility affected by issues such as MEPs’ allowances, its sessions in Strasbourg and the increase in the EU budget?
The AIV made a series of recommendations in response to these questions, for which the government is grateful. They made an important contribution to the State of the European Union 2013 and to the thinking on democratic legitimacy expressed in it. The AIV’s recommendations were addressed not only to the government, but also to parliament and interest groups. The government’s response will, of course, concentrate on the recommendations addressed to it.
The AIV’s advisory report consists of four chapters: ‘The European Parliament since the Treaty of Lisbon’, ‘Identification with the European Parliament in the Netherlands’, ‘The promotion of Dutch interests and the European Parliament’ and ‘Summary of the AIV’s findings’. This response considers the report’s main recommendations and conclusions.
The first part of the government’s response considers ways to strengthen identification with the EP; the second part considers the promotion of Dutch interests and the European Parliament.
I. Strengthening identification with the European Parliament
In the AIV’s opinion, many Dutch people think ‘Brussels’ is further away than ever before, despite the increase in the EP’s powers. The public’s identification with their democratic representatives at EU level has not yet been strengthened. The AIV notes that both the financial and economic crisis and the sweeping European measures to combat it have made many people feel that they have lost control of their country’s future. This sentiment was also echoed in the debate following publication of the State of the European Union. Furthermore, large numbers of people in many democracies do not feel represented in national decision-making and even less so in a supranational democratic institution such as the EP. Although it is difficult to find a suitable means to strengthen identification with MEPs in Brussels, the AIV makes several recommendations concerning both the Netherlands and the EP to increase identification with and support for EU democratic governance.
1.1 The Dutch parliament
The AIV believes national parliaments should be more closely involved in the European decision-making process in general and in the EP in particular. Debates in the EP and debates in the House of Representatives need to be better synchronised. The House could then consider important issues when they are being debated in the EP. As noted in the State of the European Union (part II, Democratic legitimacy), the government firmly believes that the House should be more involved in EU decisions. To this end, it has made a number of concrete suggestions. They include:
- The use of the yellow and orange card procedure so that national parliaments can object to EU legislative proposals.
- The House’s use of scrutiny reservations in respect of European initiatives. Frequent use is already made of scrutiny reservations.
- A stronger and closer working relationship between national parliaments and the EP, in part through COSAC, the interparliamentary network of the national parliaments’ European affairs committees.
- A stronger role for the national parliament in determining the government’s mandate in the Council and scrutinising its performance. This would require a good exchange of information between parliament and government at all stages of the European decision-making procedure.
- Inviting European Commissioners to visit parliament to exchange thoughts on their policies and intentions. Conversely, the government also supports closer contact between members of the government and members of the EP, and would like to see heads of government sharing thoughts with the EP on how EU decisions are implemented nationally in the member states.
- Finally, article 13 of the Stability Treaty provides for greater cooperation between relevant committees of the national parliaments of parties to the Stability Treaty and the EP through the organisation of joint conferences on, for example, budget policy. The government thinks this could strengthen cooperation on EMU in the future.
In the government’s opinion the current treaties already provide sufficient opportunity to improve contacts between national parliaments and the EP and to make EU decisions and their outcomes more transparent to the public.
As the Council of State noted in its own report, stronger public identification with the EP is a matter not only of new or more institutional arrangements but, chiefly, of politicians’ power of persuasion. The AIV refers to the Council of State’s findings in its advisory report. The government believes it is its task to involve the public in EU decision-making wherever possible and to demonstrate that proposed measures have real added value for the Netherlands. To retain political and popular support, the government is in favour of holding a debate on European cooperation in the Senate, the House of Representatives, the media and society at large. The debate need not wait until the 2014 European elections and the subsequent installation of a new Commission but these would provide a good opportunity to hold it.
1.2 The European Parliament
The AIV also notes in its advisory report that the 2014 elections offer an opportunity to raise the EP’s profile and thus public identification with it. The AIV is in favour of the EP electing the European Commission’s President. A plenary session of the EP passed such a resolution on 22 November 2012, and on 12 March 2013 the Commission recommended that the leaders of the political groups should stand as candidates for the Presidency of the new Commission. The EP thinks the leaders of the political groups should play an active role in the election campaign and present their election programmes and themselves in all member states. This would further strengthen the EP’s role in the installation of the new Commission. In the government’s opinion, it would enhance both the EP’s scrutiny of the Commission and the Commission’s democratic legitimacy. The government therefore agrees with the recommendation. However, its final position on the election of a new Commission President will be determined mainly by the candidates’ views on the interests of small and medium-sized member states.
In September 2012, Commissioner Maroš Šefcovic proposed a new regulation on European political parties and foundations. The proposal was the outcome of an own-initiative report by the EP itself. Its object is to strengthen public identification with the EP through the formation of true European political parties. The parties would have their own European legal personality, which would also be linked to the funding they receive. The current political groups in the EP would become European parties made up of the national parties. Although the government has certain fundamental doubts about the proposal in its current form, it is in principle in favour of the introduction of a statute for European political parties as it would represent a major step towards a mature European political space. The EP and the Council are currently negotiating the new regulation. It is uncertain whether the negotiations will be completed in time for the 2014 EP elections.
Furthermore, as it said in the State of the European Union, the government would like to encourage strengthening the EP’s right of inquiry, within certain constraints. This would also strengthen its supervisory task. Finally, the government agrees with the AIV that identification with the EP is also related to the credibility of the institution and its members. The EP itself will have to take more initiatives to make improvements in this area.
II. The promotion of Dutch interests and the European Parliament
In the government’s opinion, policy on the EP should be aimed at the strategic promotion of Dutch interests. The government supports the deepening of central government’s knowledge about the EP, strong European coordination with a focus on the EP, and better targeting of MEPs by Dutch ministers, state secretaries and civil servants. The promotion of Dutch interests is considered in this section. In general, the AIV has raised some very interesting points that underline the need for a strategic promotion of interests. The government will first seek to make full use of the opportunities available within the existing treaties. The government has already taken many of the measures proposed by the AIV.
2.1 Institutional reform
The government asked the AIV to consider how the Netherlands could best strengthen its working relationship with the EP. Before turning to the more practical aspects of how to promote Dutch interests in the EP (section 2.2), we first look at how institutional reform could promote Dutch interests. The AIV concluded that reintroduction of the dual mandate (where national MPs are also MEPs), the establishment of a European Senate and the creation of transnational voting lists were not realistic at present. This is generally in keeping with the government’s current position as set out in the State of the European Union:
- Reintroduction of the dual mandate: The government agrees with the AIV that introduction of a dual mandate for national and European MPs is not realistic. Firstly there is a practical argument against it. When the dual mandate was in existence, exercising it was physically difficult. If it were reintroduced in the Netherlands, there is a risk that one of the tasks would come under pressure with the result that it cannot be exercised properly. Secondly, there is a legal argument against reintroduction. Pursuant to section 7 (2) of the Act concerning the election of the members of the European Parliament, the office of an MEP has been incompatible with that of a national MP since 2004. Amendment of the Act would require unanimity.
- New structures: As noted in the State of the European Union, the government’s position on the promotion of utch interests in Europe is not based on new structures, whether they consist of national MPs or not, but on strengthening the role of national parliaments within existing treaties (see section 1.3). The government shares the AIV’s position.
- Transnational voting lists: The AIV concluded that transnational voting lists could contribute to the formation of European parties and boost European political awareness but political opposition to them makes them unrealistic in the near future. The government shares this opinion. Regardless of the need for a treaty amendment, the government thinks transnational lists are currently a bridge too far. For the time being, politicians in the Netherlands and the EP must ensure there is an adequate turnout in the 2014 EP elections. Turnout has been in decline in recent decades and the government doubts whether transnational voting lists would increase it.
2.2 Focus on the European Parliament
The government thinks policy on the EP should be coordinated effectively at central government level. The AIV believes that the ministries in The Hague should strike a better balance between the attention given to the Council on the one hand and to the EP on the other. Central government as a whole should also give more consideration to the EP’s position and increase its understanding of how it operates. The government has already taken several concrete measures to embed this focus more firmly in the national coordination structure and to deepen knowledge about the EP.
In general, the ministries always coordinate their instructions for EU bodies, including those for the EP. Furthermore, there are several interministerial consultation bodies that work well and consider the EP’s role. Dutch MEPs also receive BNC fiches on recent Commission proposals so that they are aware of the government’s position. To improve understanding of the forces at play in the EU, the government recently decided (at the House’s request) to add the EP’s position on legislative dossiers as a standard item to the annotated agenda for Council meetings.
The government is aware that central government’s knowledge about the EP must be improved across the board. The EP will continue to be considered in the regular policy process. A section at the Permanent Representation to the European Union (PREU) maintains contacts with Dutch and non-Dutch MEPs, follows debates on current legislative dossiers and reports to The Hague on important EP meetings. It provides information on interinstitutional developments and advises on political and strategic developments in the EP. It regularly summarises legislative developments so that strategic choices can be made and the Dutch government can inform MEPs about its position in a timely manner. The PREU also issues a practical and informative booklet on the EP to the ministries each year. The booklet has been published for some time and is regularly circulated and updated. The PR staff at the line ministries also maintain contacts with MEPs to keep one another informed and prepare for Council meetings.
Central government’s knowledge about the EP has also been deepened by the seminar organised by the European Law Expertise Centre (ECER), which has become a regular event for the line ministries’ European affairs divisions. The seminar gives ample attention to the EP. On a less regular basis, staff from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs give presentations to deepen knowledge about the EP and how it works. Other ministries are also investing in increasing their staff’s knowledge, for example by organising working visits and placements at their own divisions at the PR or at the PR’s European Parliament Section. The EP is a standard subject in training courses such as the JHA course for staff at the Ministry of Security and Justice and the Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations. The EP is already a fully fledged part of the standard policy process.
Partly in view of the current lack of funds, however, the government thinks the AIV’s recommendation to strengthen the civil service’s capacity is neither desirable nor compatible with the coalition agreement. In the run-up to the 2014 EP elections and the Dutch Presidency of the European Union in 2016, however, measures must be taken to ensure that Dutch interests continue to be promoted and the EP retains a high profile.
2.3 Strategic relationship with the European Parliament
The government is well aware of the importance of a strategic relationship with the EP. As the AIV noted, the government needs to invest in a strategic relationship and set clear priorities on certain dossiers. The government has already started to take measures to this end. They include increasing the frequency of visits from The Hague, increasing the PREU’s contacts, encouraging Dutch appointments to the EP’s Secretariat and working with interest groups to determine the Netherlands’ strategic position.
Dutch ministers, state secretaries and senior civil servants from The Hague already frequently visit the EP, and the frequency is increasing. During the visits they talk to both Dutch and non-Dutch MEPs. Such visits are undertaken not only by the Prime Minister and the Minister of Foreign Affairs but also by line ministers; the Minister of the Interior and Kingdom Relations, for example, paid a visit in early February. Other recent examples include visits by the Minister for Agriculture and the Minister of Infrastructure and the Environment last March. In addition to visits by ministers and state secretaries, the government encourages Dutch MPs to visit Brussels and the European Parliament.
The AIV also recommends that contact between civil servants and MEPs be enabled through the partial withdrawal of the instructions on the external contacts of civil servants. Since the instructions in place for contacts between civil servants and members of the States General differ from those in place for contacts between civil servants and MEPs, this recommendation is not relevant. In practice, there already is contact between civil servants and MEPs. The civil servants should be aware, though, that they are acting on behalf of the minister. Last year, civil servants at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Finance in The Hague had direct contact with Dutch MEPs during the briefings they gave on the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF). The briefings will be repeated this spring.
As far as increased contact between the Netherlands and the EP is concerned, the role of the PREU should be mentioned. Not only does the PREU maintain and widen contacts, it also holds talks on specific issues such as the MFF and the reform of the common agricultural policy and the common fisheries policy. MEPs are also regularly briefed on complex EU decision-making procedures. All sections of the Permanent Representation, especially the European Parliament Section, have systematic contact with MEPs and their assistants. Monthly meetings, for example, are organised in Strasbourg for Dutch MEPs and their assistants.
Given the importance of the EP, the government agrees with the AIV that the Netherlands should be well represented in the EP’s civil service. The PREU’s appointments coordinator concerns himself with appointments to all EU institutions, including the EP. The Netherlands has taken several initiatives in recent years to increase the inflow of Dutch nationals to the EP (and, more generally, to all EU institutions). Candidates for EU competitions, for example, can receive training at www.werkenbijdeeu.nl to increase their chance of success. Competition winners also receive help finding positions at EU institutions. The procedure at the EP is the same as that at the Commission. The Netherlands regularly seconds Dutch civil servants to the EP.
The government agrees with the AIV on the importance of working with interest groups to formulate positions and make Dutch input into European decision-making more effective. The government therefore makes frequent use of specialised task groups made up of representatives from politics, the civil service and interest groups to study how to strengthen coordination and so maximise the effectiveness of Dutch input into Brussels’ decision-making. The government thinks a single task group, as proposed by the AIV, would be too general in nature. The current task groups are organised by issue. It is desirable to retain their specialisations as the interests and actors differ from one issue to another. The involvement of interest groups in, for example, the field of agriculture is already part of the standard policy process.
Finally, the AIV addresses a number of recommendations to the House. It goes without saying that the House should form its own opinion on them but the government agrees with the AIV’s recommendations on the strategic relationship with the EP. One of the AIV’s recommendations is to strengthen the involvement of MEPs, with the House paying more visible attention in its work in The Hague to European dossiers in general and the EP in particular. This could be achieved by, for example, synchronising the House’s agenda with the EP’s wherever possible and organising more visits from the House to the EP.