Environmental protection and sustainable development are competences that the EU is entitled to integrate into the definition and implementation of its policies. However, shared competences in these areas are still a reality, as a margin of discretion persists for Member States, aimed at maintaining a high level of decentralisation, particularly where issues related to national policies and more (nation) specific sectoral legislation are concerned. This paper intends to analyse the application of the principle of subsidiarity to environmental issues within the EU, to examine the characteristics of a possible path to the future of green federalism in Europe.
The aim of involving state members in reforming federal constitutions is to guarantee them the autonomy that they have been constitutionally granted. It also prevents reform from being carried out unilaterally by the central government and means the structure of competences can be modified as necessary. In this study, we will consider how federations manage, to a greater or lesser extent, regional intervention in constitutional reform. However, we will see how recently, in Spain, the anticipated routes for territorial participation in the constitutional text have proved to be clearly insufficient, and have developed into the recent crisis in this ‘State of Autonomies’, which is now facing the breakdown of national unity.
The provision of Article 13 TSCG to create an Interparliamentary Conference was the starting point for long discussions after which national parliaments and the European Parliament eventually reached a compromise. This article pursues a two-fold objective: It first examines the different phases of interparliamentary negotiations from 2012 to 2015. On the basis of a distinction between three competing models for interparliamentary cooperation, the article shows that the two models of EP-led scrutiny and creating a collective parliamentary counterweight did not prevail: Parliaments agreed that the new Interparliamentary Conference on Stability, Economic Coordination and Governance (SECG) would follow the ‘standard’ interparliamentary conference (COSAC model). In terms of national parliaments’ actual participation, the lowest common denominator compromise has not changed the numbers of participating MPs: Attendance records are stable over time, the size of national delegations continues to vary and participating MPs are still twice as likely to be members of Budget or Finance committees than to be members of European affairs committees.
Parliamentary administrators have to cope with a complex and ever-changing procedural framework, as well as with conflicting demands from the policy side. Nevertheless, their role in inter-parliamentary cooperation is rather under-researched. This article focuses on the actors of Administrative Parliamentary Networks and introduces two entirely new entities: European Programmes; and networks of Parliamentary Budget Offices, which seem to have escaped scholar’s attention. Administrative duties and roles are discussed in the context of inter-parliamentary cooperation and a new role is attributed to parliamentary administrators, that of the researcher. Existing findings from previous studies are put under a new light and analysed with the support of empirical data.
This special issue develops a contextual analysis of EU inter-parliamentary cooperation in the post Lisbon Treaty framework. Indeed, it is possible to claim that there are several sources and causes for renewed EU inter-parliamentary cooperation: first, a voluntary one, i.e. the connection with the Lisbon Treaty’s intent to facilitate a wider democratisation objective; second, this time more a reaction than an initiative, the need to counterbalance the institutional outcomes of the economic and financial crisis that shook the world but particularly the eurozone; and, third, the call for an improvement in existing rules and mechanisms to develop even further democratic (read: parliamentary) input in common policies.
The special issue analyses whether current inter-parliamentary mechanisms are suited to react to these challenges. It specifically assesses the practical impact of interparliamentary cooperation on the numerous democratic gaps that still exist in the EU's multi-layered decision-making process. Its objective is to show, beyond the mere sharing of information and the comparison of best practices at a supranational and transnational level, whether existing inter-parliamentary practices contribute to joint parliamentary scrutiny by involving both the EP and the national parliaments of EU member states.
The article draws comparisons between inter-parliamentary cooperation in the European Union and at the international level. It recognises that, notwithstanding a strong international imprint, inter-parliamentary relations in the EU have gradually experienced somewhat distinctive pushes, deeply embedded in the unique constitutional arrangement of the Union. On the one hand, the composite nature of EU constitutionalism, and its impact on parliaments’ relationship with the democratic oversight rationale, have exercised a major influence on the aims and scope of inter-parliamentary cooperation. On the other hand, from the organisational point of view, the distinctive structure of parliamentary representation in the EU has pushed inter-parliamentary arrangements into a multi-layered design, consisting of a large variety of vertical formats. The article argues that inter-parliamentary cooperation in the EU is expected to act as a sui generis practice when compared to apparently similar forms of transnational dialogue amongst parliaments. In theory, at least, the EU sets ideal conditions for fulfilling an authentic collective parliamentary dimension, instrumental to the democratic oversight of the executives. Instead, focusing on the practice, the full potential of EU inter-parliamentarism is not yet fulfilled, for two set of reasons: the unresolved ambiguities over its contribution to parliamentary democracy and the lack of a real capacity to depart from the formats of international parliamentary institutions.
In 2017, a new Joint Parliamentary Scrutiny Group (JPSG) was created to enable members of the national parliaments of the EU and the European Parliament to exercise joint oversight of the EU agency for police cooperation (Europol). This paper chronicles and explains the lengthy legal and political process leading up to the first meeting of the Europol JPSG in October 2017, and the establishment of its Rules of Procedure at its second meeting in March 2018. In addition, the Europol JPSG is compared to the three EU inter-parliamentary conferences (IPCs) which meet twice-yearly to discuss EU affairs, foreign policy and economic governance. While there are many similarities, the JPSG differs from these others in that it has an explicit mandate to scrutinize, and the target of its scrutiny is a specific EU agency rather than a whole policy field. The JPSG is also distinctive in a number of key respects, including a stronger legal basis, more restrictive membership and participation rules, greater continuity of membership, stronger access to EU officials and documents, a seat on the Europol Management Board and an explicit right to ask oral and written questions. Taken together, these attributes indicate that the JPSG is designed to be an oversight body, rather than merely a discussion forum. Finally, the paper considers the likely future UK role in relation to the Europol JPSG after Brexit.
The EU Speakers’ Conference has experienced a ‘second youth’ after the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon by playing a ‘quasi-constitutional’ role in inter-parliamentary cooperation, and in particular by trying to exercise a rule-making function over the many inter-parliamentary venues of the EU’s system of government. The fulfilment of such a function has certainly not been made any easier as a consequence of the constitutional constraints surrounding the positions of the Speakers and Presidents of the European and Member States’ (MS) Parliaments, with a considerable variety in terms of powers and decision-making capacity among the MS and the EU. Despite these limitations, the ‘quasi-constitutional’ role of the EU Speakers’ Conference has mainly consisted of approving guidelines, if not directly rules of procedure, for other inter-parliamentary venues. It has also been argued that the coordinating function of the EU Speakers’ Conference can be much more effective when looking at its ‘quasi-constitutional’ role, and also in its function of joint parliamentary scrutiny in the EU, if it is aimed at enhancing the rational organisation of inter-parliamentary activities in terms of timing, agendas and ex-post supervision of the results, in the absence of any other possible alternative to the Speakers’ leadership.
This contribution proposes a framework of transnational parliamentarism to study inter-parliamentary cooperation, and applies it to the interparliamentary conference on CFSP/CSDP. It asks to what extent the IPC’s functioning reflects its constitutive intergovernmental logic, or whether its behaviour in practice might be guided by a transnational logic, hence becoming something more than just the parliamentary mirror of an intergovernmental cooperation framework. To this end we outline three functions that are brought forward by transnational parliamentarism: policy-making, collective accountability and cooperation, and investigate to which extent these logics can be observed in the functioning of the IPC CFSP/CSDP. Applying the framework reveals a nuanced picture of an inter-parliamentary cooperation framework which to some extent goes beyond purely intergovernmental functions of domestic accountability and representation, and also includes the performance of policy-making and parliamentary cooperation functions.