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National parliaments: their emerging control over the European Council


The European Council plays an increasingly important role in the governance of the European Union. In addition, since 2008, Euro summits have taken place at level of the heads of state and government of the member states whose currency is the euro. This Policy Paper analyses the emerging control over European Council meetings and Euro summits that is exercised by national parliaments. The authors examine at what point in time the 27 national parliaments control, whether control takes place in committee or in the plenary, how intensively that control is exercised, and what model of control the individual national parliaments follow. This Policy Paper measures the weaknesses of the parliamentary control over the European Council. It is still largely organised within domestic frontiers and national parliaments have only adapted to European Council meetings and Euro summits in an incremental and path-dependent way: The control mechanisms of national parliaments for European Union politics had been designed for legislation, not for decisions taken by the heads of state or government. But national parliaments have started to devote time and energy to controlling European Council meetings and Euro summits: Between March 2011 and March 2012 there were 109 plenary debates and 180 committee meetings that dealt with European Council meetings or Euro summits in the 27 member states. On the basis of this data, the authors identify seven models of parliamentary control: the “limited control model”, the “Europe as usual” model, the “expert model”, the “public forum”, the “government accountability” model, the “policy maker”, and “full europeanisation”. The differences between member states are rooted in their visions of what the role of a parliament in a democracy should be. Besides the technical aspects, the motivations of and incentives for MPs (to actually use the existing channels of control) also play an important role. In their recommendations the authors call for better involvement of national parliaments in the control of the European Council meetings and Euro summits: an increased awareness of the issues at stake and of the functioning of the European Council meetings and Euro summits. It is essential to combine room for manoeuvre of the head of state or government with deeply informed oversight by national parliaments. Within national parliaments, transparency and openness could be enhanced for meetings in committee and mere declarations of the government could become politically more salient and be upgraded following the question time pattern. Practices of national governments should allow for timely and complete information as well as for an inclusion of the chair of the European affairs committee. Finally, the authors propose the establishment of a genuine multi-level parliamentary cooperation: to deepen the link between the national parliaments and the European Parliament and to create an inter-parliamentary conference for budgetary and economic issues on the basis of Article 13 TSCG, following the example of the inter-parliamentary conference for CFSP and CSDP.
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hal-02405547 , version 1 (11-12-2019)



Claudia Hefftler, Valentin Kreilinger, Olivier Rozenberg, Wolfgang Wessels. National parliaments: their emerging control over the European Council. 2013. ⟨hal-02405547⟩
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