Taking their cue from the Lisbon Treaty, Irish MPs this month called for new scrutiny powers compelling the Dublin government to take their views into account before agreeing to new EU legislation.
The move follows months of debate in the Dáil (parliament) investigating ways to strengthen the chamber's input into EU legislation.
The Dáil's twin EU affairs delegations, the European affairs and European scrutiny committees, undertook the research, forming a subcommittee which concluded that the enhanced role bestowed on national parliaments by the Lisbon Treaty makes it imperative for MPs to give their input into forthcoming EU directives at the earliest possible stage.
According to the Irish Times, centre-right Fine Gael member Lucinda Creighton – who chaired the subcommittee – argued that "there is absolutely no point in dealing with legislative proposals after the horse has bolted. After the Lisbon Treaty, national parliaments have new obligations to engage with legislation at the earliest possible opportunity".
The main proposal is that a more robust system of legislative scrutiny be introduced, whereby all ministers will pledge that – bar certain exceptional circumstances – they will not agree to anything in the EU Council of Ministers until it has been cleared by the Irish parliament.
If this so-called "scrutiny reserve" is over-ridden, the minister must write immediately to the appropriate committee explaining why this was the case and risks being brought in front of the committee for questioning.
The idea largely mirrors the UK system, where "scrutiny reserve" legislation has already existed for a number of years.
The report also proposed another interesting innovation, advocating the creation of an 'EU Information' kiosk in the chamber, which could act as a one-stop shop for the 50,000 Irish citizens who visit the parliament each year.