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  • Series: Leuven Global Governance series x
  • Social and Political Science 2019 x
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Kolja Raube, Jan Wouters and Meltem Müftüler-Baç

In today’s increasingly complex and interdependent world, the role of parliaments remains a relatively understudied research topic. The multiple patterns of global governance are mostly dominated by the executive branches of government, with parliaments remaining on the sidelines. Anne-Marie Slaughter in her work A New World Order (2004) described the global order as a network of transgovernmental network relations. At the same time, she noted the role of parliaments in networked globalism. Her analysis concluded that parliaments lack the ability and interest to network with other parliaments in the world, and essentially run behind the advanced governmental interplays that effectively shape global governance. Through the prism of current research on parliamentary cooperation in the European Union (EU), the present volume aims to revisit Slaughter’s perspective (see also Janeia 2015). At the same time, this volume obviously adds to the literature of European foreign policy, which so far has treated parliamentary activity and relations in the EU’s external relations rather as an afterthought. Only lately has attention shifted towards an increased role of the European Parliament (EP) and national parliaments, especially with regard to international agreements and trade policy (Rippoll Servent 2014; Rosen and Raube 2018; Wouters and Raube 2018; Woolcock 2012). Research on parliamentary cooperation shows the increasing networking of parliaments not only in the EU (Crum and Fossum 2009; Lupo and Fassone 2016) but also between the EU and actors outside the EU (see Costa and Dri 2014; Jan_i_ and Stavridis 2016). This volume also focuses on comparative examples of parliamentary cooperation of actors and organizations outside the EU. Overall, it not only sheds light on EU parliamentary cooperation, but also on the scope and role of parliamentary networks in an increasingly interdependent world. As such it aims to make a contribution to both the global governance and EU external relations discourses by highlighting the role of parliaments.

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John Erik Fossum and Guri Rosén

This chapter discusses the issue of democratic control and accountability in the realm of EU external relations. Legislative assemblies are key instruments in ensuring democratic control. The multilevel EU has developed a distinctive structure of legislative relations that shapes its ability to exercise democratic control and accountability of external relations. A distinctive feature of legislative relations within the EU context is that they connect parliaments across levels of governing, with traits that resemble a multilevel parliamentary field (MLPF). There are specific features of how states have come together to shape and conduct the wide range of issue-areas that make up EU external relations, and these vary considerably. In assessing whether or the extent to which the EU’s MLPF incorporates EU external relations we pay attention to how they are structured and how they vary. We also consider how extensive the incorporation is and what the democratic implications might be.

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Thomas Christiansen and Afke Groen

This chapter explores the degree to which cooperation between parliaments and political parties has become institutionalized in the EU, and assesses the significance of this process from a neo-institutionalist perspective. Having first discussed the manner in which three varieties of new institutionalism – historical, sociological and rational choice – may be useful to study this process, the chapter analyses the institutionalization of cooperation among parliaments and among political parties. In each domain, the developments are interpreted from the different theoretical perspectives. In doing so, we highlight different characteristics of cooperation, in particular the coexistence of cooperation and rivalry between the European Parliament and national parliaments, the growth of both formal and informal party-political cooperation, and a significant degree of institutional isomorphism where cooperation has been established. The chapter emphasizes the significance of established institutional arrangements, and argues that an openness regarding theoretical choices in the study of inter-parliamentary cooperation is essential.

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Daan Fonck and Kolja Raube

The literature on European foreign policy (EFP) remains almost silent on the role or influence of cross-border, or ‘trans-parliamentary’, activities. This chapter looks at the parliamentary dimension in EFP through a predominantly transnational lens. Against the backdrop of transnational literature, the chapter argues that transnationalism is able to provide insights on the parliamentary dimension of EFP in three different aspects: the ability to serve as a descriptive tool that is able to provide an ontology of the transnational parliamentary field; to understand the cross-border behaviour and functions of parliamentary actors in EFP; and to advance the normative agenda of transnational parliamentarism, especially in view of democratizing international politics through empowering societal actors.

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Tobias Lenz

This contribution analyses the proliferation of parliamentary institutions in regional economic organizations around the world. It argues that this phenomenon has not resulted from the spread of structural conditions that were similar to those obtaining in the early European Union – the pioneer of regional parliamentarization. Instead, the proliferation of regional parliamentary institutions was the outcome of a process of norm diffusion that was rooted in the European Union’s active and passive parliamentary entrepreneurship as well as a global participatory discourse. Thus, parliamentarization in the European Union and elsewhere is an interdependent, not independent, phenomenon. After developing these arguments theoretically, the contribution presents quantitative evidence and a case study of parliamentarization in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to substantiate these claims.

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Wolfgang Wagner

The rise of international parliamentarism is usually attributed to the requirements of ensuring democratic control in the face of increasing internationalization. This chapter, however, argues that this democratic rationale is a rather recent one. In fact, it was a polemological rationale – i.e. the idea that inter-parliamentary cooperation would help overcome conflict and war among states – that was midwife to international parliamentarism in the first place. After introducing the polemological and democratic rationales of international parliamentarism, the chapter focuses on the case of security cooperation in Europe because this region has a particularly long and rich history of inter-parliamentary cooperation. The two logics do conflict when it comes to the inclusion or exclusion of MPs from non-member states. Whereas the polemological rationale suggests inclusion in order to foster communication and interaction between MPs from various sides of a conflict, the democratic rationale prioritizes interaction amongst members over outreach to non-members.

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Christopher Lord

This chapter discusses interparliamentary cooperation among European Union member states’ parliaments as a means to coordinate and justify the Union’s external actions by allowing for debate between the European Parliament and national parliaments. The Treaty of Lisbon calls for EU institutions to facilitate the organization of national parliaments in interparliamentary conferences on specific topics, with particular attention to the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) and areas of security and defence. The chapter argues that these conferences can justify EU external action as a means of securing rights, core values and solutions to collective action problems, all in ways that are, in turn, subject to procedural standards of public control with political equality and justification. It also shows where interparliamentary cooperation can improve on other forms of parliamentary participation in the Union’s external actions, and, indeed, on forms of policy coordination limited to executive actors.

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Robert M. Cutler and Alexander von Lingen

The Baltic Assembly (BA) is an international parliamentary institution (IPI) on the European Union’s geographic periphery. It originated as the Baltic Parliamentary Group, an international parliamentary-societal institution (IPSI) founded in 1989, while the Baltic States were still republics of the Soviet Union. The chapter treats the BA’s parliamentary cooperation and diplomacy as a subregional IPI in the field of external relations. It thus produces a new understanding of the role of a relatively new type of parliament Europe, in a context of multi-level governance, in EU external action. The BA cooperates with the Nordic Council (NC) in the context of the ‘Nordic-Baltic Eight’ (NB8) framework, as well as with interparliamentary forums of the Visegrád group, the Benelux group and the GUAM group. Such cooperation helped to overcome obstacles that had earlier blocked the BA’s organizational development. The explanation of how the BA could reinvigorate its organizational development since 2008 also produces a new conceptual understanding of IPI institutionalization. Distinctions between IPIs and IPSIs, and also other hybrid IPI types, are set out in the context of differentiating between IPI studies and studies of parliamentary diplomacy (PD). The significance of the BA’s particular evolutionary path for the sociological theory of the development of international communities is explained. Implications of subregional IPIs for the multi-level architecture of EU governance are discussed. Lessons are drawn from the analysis for future studies of parliamentary cooperation in the field of external relations, and of the role of parliaments in Europe on different levels in EU external action.

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Ian Cooper

Currently, there are three Inter-Parliamentary Conferences (IPCs) in the European Union (EU): the Conference of Parliamentary Committees for Union Affairs of Parliaments of the European Union (COSAC), created in 1989; the Inter-Parliamentary Conference for the Common Foreign and Security Policy and the Common Security and Defence Policy (CFSP-CSDP Conference), created 2012; and the Inter-parliamentary Conference on Stability, Economic Coordination and Governance in the European Union (SECG Conference), created in 2013. While each IPC has received a certain amount of analysis on an individual basis, there has been little work done to subject them to comparative analysis or assess their collective impact on parliamentary democracy in the EU. The chapter identifies the differences between them, and also focuses on distinctive properties that set them apart from other forms of interparliamentary cooperation, making them a distinct group worthy of our attention.

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Lorinc Redei

Over the past few years, the European Parliament (EP) has begun engaging in a novel form of parliamentary diplomacy: political mediation. Through three case studies (Albania, Ukraine and Macedonia), this chapter explores how EP parliamentarians have sought to help find solutions to political disputes in non-EU countries. The cases evaluate these mediation efforts according to four factors: the level of MEP involvement; the role of the EP’s secretariat; the amount of cooperation with other EU actors; and the extent to which the EP arrived with a defined outcome in mind for the negotiations. The conclusion suggests that the EP’s increased institutionalization and formalization of its mediation activities through a new stand-alone Mediation Service will lead the Parliament to undertake more such missions in the future – and with higher rates of potential success.