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This memorandum complements the document "Legislative complexity and the role of Parliaments in the era of globalisation", submitted by the Working Group at the end of the first phase of its work and approved by the EU Speakers' Conference in Lisbon.

On the basis of the analysis contained in the above document the memorandum identifies a number of avenues for action.

On the basis of the analysis contained in the above document the memorandum identifies a number of avenues for action.

    a) The main contribution of Parliament to the quality of legislation: transparency and accountability

    The most significant experiences show that parliaments can contribute to improving the quality of legislation primarily by guaranteeing the transparency and accountability of the decision-making process. For the benefit of all citizens, the Executive ought to provide Parliaments with clear, concise and verifiable information concerning:

      1. a pre-legislative evaluation stage, open to external specialist inputs and to the consultation of interested parties;
      2. a thorough examination of the EU and domestic regulatory framework for every piece of new legislation;
      3. a prior assessment of the impact of legislation on individuals and on business;
      4. procedures to monitor the implementation and the effects of legislation;
      5. the creation of instruments to make the law and the contents of its provisions effectively accessible to the general public.

    b) Improving the capacity of individual Members of Parliament to perform legislative work

    The high degree of legislative complexity peculiar to the European Union requires suitable instruments and working conditions for the Members of Parliament. In particular, it is important to enhance the role of individual MPs by ensuring:

      1. a high level of essential information, precisely focused on the issues to be examined;
      2. a broad range of support initiatives so that also specific issues of interest to individual members can be addressed within a comprehensive and integrated vision of the European and international context;
      3. an adequate distribution of individual assignments in organizing legislative work and in external relations in order to give visibility to the personal contribution of parliamentarians;
      4. an organization of the debates in a way that will give greater visibility to individual speeches, in view of a more effective coverage by the media and of television broadcasting, also by dedicated channels.

    c) Initiatives to be undertaken in relation to the European Union

    National parliaments can work together with the European Parliament and the other EU bodies to make Community legislation clearer, simpler, more accessible, and easier to incorporate into the legislation of each individual country.

    In this connection, the Conference of Speakers could promote cooperation among Parliaments also with a view to defining a common initiative to improve the quality of European legislation, to be taken during the Intergovernmental Conference or in a separate consultation process. The content of the initiative can be the following:

      1) request the full implementation and further development of the Protocols annexed to the Amsterdam Treaty on the role of national parliaments, and of the Declaration on the minimum quality standards for Community legislation;
      2) request that the drafting process of EU legislation comply with principles and methods, to be verified by the European Parliament and the national parliaments, in compliance with the highest standards adopted within individual countries;
      3) support initiatives to reorganize and simplify Community legislation;
      4) request a more effective implementation of the principles, enshrined in the treaties, regarding the transparency of and access to European Union documents, while also supporting the initiatives already adopted by the European Ombudsman.

    d) The need for new relations between Parliaments and international organizations and research institutes

    Within each country, the political debate requires more and more high-quality information, open to international exchange and based on the concurrent contribution of manifold different sources. The Conference of Speakers could foster co-operation between Parliaments in order to jointly or independently promote the following:

      1. the organisation of round table discussions and inter-institutional conferences on major political issues, to be held in the individual parliaments with the participation of Members of Parliament from other countries;
      2. the activities of existing inter-parliamentary organizations should be more focused on the information requirements of Parliaments (Interparliamentary Union, Council of Europe through its Parliamentary Assembly);
      3. meetings and exchanges of officials; revitalising the role of the ECPRD as a link among the documentation departments of Parliaments, also creating a EU section;
      4. an improved linkage between the pre-legislative activities performed by the services of the European Union and Parliament's need for clear, focussed and essential information;
      5. the establishment of ongoing relationships with research institutes and other independent organisations (NGOs) on the key issues of contemporary politics;
      6. an active interaction with international organisations (United Nations agencies, the OECD, the World Bank, the IMF, etc.).

    e) Exchange of information among Parliaments through new technologies

    The Conference of Speakers could promote co-operation between different institutions and between the parliaments of the Union for an informal and non-bureaucratic exchange of information between their administrations. The Speakers request that the administrations of their respective parliaments carry out a feasibility study with a view to achieving the following objectives:

      1. establishing common or coordinated criteria for the structuring of the most significant information on the activities of each parliament on their respective websites, to be accessed through the use of a common search language and method; this might concern as a priority the activities related to the definition and implementation of European policies;
      2. organizing an e-mail directory of Members of Parliament and officials;
      3. promoting search instruments capable of connecting the databases on Community legislation and on the domestic legislation of the various countries (for instance the EULEGIS project).

    The Conference also expresses its support for the media to devote greater attention to parliamentary proceedings: the main television stations of the various countries should allot adequate time to the debates being held within the parliaments of the other EU countries.

 Tasks of the Conference

The Conference undertakes, among its ongoing tasks, to provide support and recognition to interparliamentary co-operation in all the subject-matters referred to under the previous items, which are held to be of primary importance in the relationship between parliaments and citizens.

This ongoing activity should be promoted by the Presidency of the annual Conference, in compliance with the Rules of procedure, through specific agreements between interested Speakers and through activities of the parliamentary administrations in accordance with instructions issued by the Speakers.

The Conference supports and participates, in the forms that are deemed more appropriate from time to time, in the initiatives promoted by the individual parliaments, by the international associations of parliaments, by the European Union bodies and by international organisations.

In this connection the Conference expresses its support to the "European Law Conference" (which is being organized for June, next year, by the Swedish Parliament and Government) as a forthcoming opportunity to implement this line of action, and encourages, therefore, the full and active participation of all its members in this significant initiative, also in order to develop the issues considered in the Memorandum.

Finally, the Conference recommends that the OECD and the European University Institute of Florence, which effectively supported the activities of the Working Group, continue their excellent work, also including in their current activities the analysis of the parliamentary issues related to legislation.