Early warning system
The Lisbon Treaty includes an early-warning mechanism for subsidiarity control. The system allows national parliaments to object to Commission proposals within eight weeks of their publication on the grounds that it breaches the principle of subsidiarity.
If these "reasoned opinions" represent at least 1/3 of the votes allocated to national parliaments and their chambers, the Commission must review the draft legislation. The Commission may then decide whether to maintain, amend or withdraw its proposal.
See Subsidiarity control
This first procedure is nicknamed "the yellow card" and it has been applied by the Commission since September 2006 following a promise by Commission President Barroso at a joint meeting between the European Parliament and the national parliaments.
The Commission committed itself to send all proposals for new legislation to all national parliaments, asking for their comments on possible breaches of the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality.
There are now over 500 reactions from national parliaments per year. In the first year the Commission received 152 reactions from different chambers of national parliaments but it did not change one of its draft law proposals. The French Senate reacted 39 times, the Federal Chamber in Germany (Bundesrat) reacted 20 times and the British House of Lords 17 times. The Dutch parliament 3 times and the Irish once.
The Lisbon Treaty includes a new Article 12 TEU and an amended protocol on subsidiarity. The yellow card is supplemented by an "orange card".
If "reasoned opinions" are submitted by at least a simple majority of the votes allocated to the national Parliaments, the proposal must be reviewed. After such review, the Commission may decide to maintain, amend or withdraw it.
If the Commission decides to maintain the proposal, a majority in the European Parliament or 55% of the member states in the Council may oppose it.
55% is a demanding threshold since 45% of the member states can in any case always block a proposal for a new law. It is difficult to foresee any practical consequences of this 'orange card'.
See also the Lisbon Treaty and EU Constitution and the report of the Working Group on "Subsidiarity" of the Convention: http://european-convention.eu.......er.asp?lang=EN&Content=WGI