10 Years after the Lisbon Treaty: Domestic Parliaments and Interparliamentary Cooperation on EU Affairs
The Lisbon Treaty has provided a new impetus and opportunities for domestic parliaments (regional and national) to become more active in EU affairs. Yet, 10 years after the entry into force of the treaty, and despite substantial breakthroughs of previous works, there are still substantial gaps in our knowledge. First, while studies on national parliaments are numerous and focused on both the institutional adaptations of parliaments and their actual use of scrutiny mechanisms (behavioural adaptations), our knowledge of the adaptations of regional parliaments are mostly limited to descriptive works focusing on their institutional adaptations. Second, little is known yet on the interparliamentary relations and cooperation between multiple parliaments within a Member States (i.e. relations across regionals parliaments and with ‘their’ National parliaments. Finally, there is still a promising ground for research focusing on the developments of interparliamentary cooperation within the EU multi-level system.
The aim of the panel is to present the results of a new wave of studies focusing on the behavioural adaptations of domestic parliaments within the EU multi-level system as well as on the developments of interparliamentary cooperation mechanisms. The panel presents the latest methodological and empirical developments in this agenda, ranging from in-depth case studies to the use of quantitative text analysis methods. Finally, it also introduces to innovative studies discussing how the EU ‘hits’ domestic parliaments (regional and national) and examining the relationship between multiple parliaments within and across Member States.
Presentations of the Symposium
The Politicisation of the European Union within and across Belgian Regional and National Parliaments
The Treaty of Lisbon opened the door for the inclusion of subnational parliaments in the EU decision-making processes. However, authors have so far mainly focused on the involvement of national parliaments whereas only a few studies dedicated attention to the adaptation of subnational parliaments. In addition, previous works which examine parliamentary scrutiny of EU affairs in federal Member States have rarely included both regional and national parliaments in one single analysis. Consequently, the relationship between multiple parliaments from different levels of governance within a Member State is rarely analysed.
However, if one wants to comprehensively analyse the impact of parliaments from federal Member States in EU decision-making processes, it is crucial to study the combined actions and relations among regional and federal parliaments on EUs affairs. This paper therefore examines, in a comparative perspective, the politicisation of EU affairs within the Belgian House of Representatives and the parliaments of Brussels, Flanders and Wallonia during the period 2014-2019.
Relying on web-scrapping and quantitative text analysis techniques, the paper measures the salience of the EU within plenary debates of both regional and national parliaments. In addition, the paper aims at explaining variation in EU salience within Belgium, with a particular focus on the variation between the regional and national levels and the consequences of such a variation on the overall scrutiny by the domestic parliamentary system.
The Expertisation of Parliamentary Inquiry: Evidence from Subnational Legislatures in EU Member States
This paper studies the changing role of experts and expertise in inquiry commissions set up by subnational parliaments in Austria and Germany. It follows long-standing scholarly debates and argues that these commissions serve as a neo-corporatist mechanism to include interest groups and specialist knowledge in legislative decision-making. At the same time, they offer important means for legislative control, especially to the opposition, and provide opportunities for legislatures to interact with the public. Arguably, the Europeanization of regional parliaments has also influenced the expertise needed to control governments. Yet, we know very little about the number and focus of these inquiry commissions at subnational level and the relevance of expertise therein. Empirically, we study all Austrian and German subnational legislatures over the past decade, covering more than 100 commissions. We examine the expertise gathered in those commissions, i.e. the oral and written statements delivered by various experts. The empirical analysis reveals different patterns of invited expertise that are driven by institutionalist, partisan, sectoral, and organisational determinants. Moreover, these patterns across states and over time shed light into the strategic considerations of subnational legislatures to raise knowledge for a distinct policy issue and awareness and legitimacy for legislative decisions.
The Purpose and Influence of Interparliamentary Cooperation in the BENELUX Union
Regional (sub-)groupings have played a significant, but comparatively neglected role in the processes of European integration. The BENELUX Union is a long-standing example of regional cooperation that supported and flanked the wider European integration project. However, with the Nordic Council, and cooperation among the Visegrád and Baltic states, forms of regional cooperation are now wide-spread in the European Union. Yet, there is little systematic research on these experiences of (sub-)regional cooperation within the wider European project.
The aim of this paper is to analyze to what extent and in what ways cooperation within the BENELUX Union has been part of the EU policies of the three participating states. While interregional cooperation is often driven by intergovernmental cooperation, the BENELUX Union also entails interparliamentary cooperation. The paper therefore examines to what extent the BENELUX cooperation is subject to interparliamentary control and deliberation and what the strengths and weaknesses of this interparliamentary dimension are. In particular, it is interested in whether the interparliamentary dimension merely serves as a ‘talking-shop’ where MPs from the three countries can exchange views, or whether it can also influence the decisions taken at the intergovernmental level. The paper is based on both qualitative interviews and the analysis of documents.
Interparliamentary Cooperation in the Asymmetric Multi-level System of the EU
The EU multilevel system is characterized by numerous internal and external differentiations, it is an asymmetric multi-level system. In internal differentiation, interparliamentary cooperation can be found in the more intergovernmentally governed fields of monetary policy and security and defence policy. When it comes to external differentiation, parliamentary assemblies and therefore interparliamentary cooperation is existent in all the plurilateral trade, association and neighborhood strategies, which unevenly expand the EU´s area of influence. However, differentiation is often associated with lack of transparency: Due to their intergovernmental character, executives can play "two-level games" particularly well and could probably be controlled by interparliamentary cooperation. Due to the deviation from the integration principle "all or nothing", responsibilities can often not be assigned by citizens and therefore, to be represented via interparliamentary cooperation might be. This paper examines the functions of institutionalised forms of interparliamentary cooperation in different forms of internal and exteral differentiation: to what extent and how to they fulfil control and representation functions? It analyses plenary documents of the Joint Parliamentary Assembly of the ACP partnership, the Joint Parliamentary Committee of the European Economic Area, and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean (external differentiation), the COSAC (“full integration”), and the Joint Consultation Meetings in the field of the Common security and defence policy (CSDP, internal differentiation). It also takes into account the new “European Parliamentary Week” as well as new developments concerning interparliamentary cooperation in the field of the currency, and Europol.