Participation of the Austrian Parliament in EU Matters

When Austria acceded to the European Union (EU) in 1995, the jurisdiction of the Austrian Parliament over legislation in various policy areas was transferred to the European Union. In order to safeguard the national legislative body’s influence on the European decision-making process, amendments were made in the Federal Constitution and subsequently incorporated in amendments to the Rules of Procedure of the National and Federal Councils. The underlying principle of the Austrian Parliament’s right to participate in EU matters is its right to be informed in detail by the Austrian Federal Government and to take a position on the matters concerned.

The Lisbon Treaty and the Modification of the Federal Constitutional Act

The entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty in 2009 strengthened the role of national parliaments in the European Union through active and direct involvement. Modifications of the Federal Constitutional Act were made in 2010 to implement these new rights, and corresponding changes to the Rules of Procedure of the National and Federal Councils entered into force in early 2012, giving the National and Federal Councils additional rights to participate directly in processes affecting EU matters. In particular, new instruments were introduced to allow supervision of compliance with the subsidiarity principle.

EU Information Act and Information Rules Act 

In order to be in a position to make the best possible use of these new rights, the "EU Information Act" and "Distribution Rules – EU" were introduced. These rules, established to govern the handling of EU documents, reorganised the Austrian Federal Government's responsibilities with respect to the provision of information to Parliament. In 2015 the “Distribution Rules – EU” were replaced by the “Information Rules Act“, which applies to the National and Federal Councils.