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Article 7 TEU: From a Dormant Provision to an Active Enforcement Tool?

Abstract

For a long time considered, improperly, a sort of ‘nuclear’ option, Article 7 TEU is the key EU Treaty provision in the field of values enforcement. In the context of the Union’s current rule of law crisis, such a provision deserves the greatest attention, especially after the European Commission’s proposal in December 2017 to trigger the procedure against Poland, under Article 7(1) TEU. This article contributes to understandings of the provision by reviewing its main features and contextualising its deployment in the general Polish rule of law crisis, with the aim of evaluating whether it can now be considered as an operational instrument for values enforcement. Although the Commission’s (late) decision to activate the Article 7(1) TEU procedure should be welcomed as a major effort in restoring the rule of law within the European Union, the (perceived and real) limits of Article 7 TEU and the inertia of the EU institutions cast a shadow over the procedure’s effective implementation.

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Bi-Ethnic Federalism and the Question of Sovereignty: Understanding the Competitive Security Postures in Cyprus

Abstract

When ethnic groups negotiate self-government arrangements, ‘ethnic sovereignty’ lies boldly at the heart of their security considerations. The constitutional nature of self-determination and the extent of territorial control can determine the degree of ethno-territorial sovereignty attributed to groups. However, in competitive contexts influenced by fear and mistrust, groups interpret these pillar elements in ways that increase their own sense of security. The present study argues that legal and political positions on sovereignty in Cyprus are largely built around the competitive security assumptions held by the Greek and Turkish Cypriot leaderships, and explains how the divergent viewpoints and understandings of sovereignty reflect the underlying security fears and suspicion of parties. The analysis finds that the two ethnic leaderships in Cyprus have sought to accumulate a distinct ‘sovereignty capital’ in an effort to safeguard their own and overpower each other’s perceived security intentions in the event of federal collapse, making thus the attainment of settlement in Cyprus particularly elusive.

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A comparison of existing forums for interparliamentary cooperation in the EU and some lessons for the future

Abstract

Interparliamentary conferences and other permanent forums for interparliamentary cooperation are blossoming in the European Union. Following more or less lengthy negotiations between national and European parliamentarians, two new conferences and a new joint parliamentary scrutiny group for Europol have been created since 2012. Against this background, this article examines to what extent the Joint parliament scrutiny group is comparable to the previously existing interparliamentary conferences. Beyond that, it asks the question as to whether any better-defined guidelines or procedures could be adopted to rationalise the process of creation of new forums for interparliamentary cooperation. It makes some concrete proposals in that direction.

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The Contribution of COSAC to Joint Parliamentary Scrutiny in the EU: A Practitioner’s View

Abstract

COSAC has played an active role in fostering and developing interparliamentary he central question addressed here is to assess whether COSAC is currently structured to allow NPs to obtain more information and access to the policy and decision-making circuits at EU level and, therefore, if NPs are benefiting from COSAC or are they, on the contrary, lagging behind and lost amidst so many interparliamentary meetings?

It is argued that COSAC occupies a key role in the multipolarised system of with the “global picture” and therefore in a unique position to bring coherence to the overall system. This paper therefore aims at putting forward some ideas and approaches regarding the role of COSAC in the effectiveness of interparliamentary cooperation, covering not only its present proceedings and output, but also some thoughts for further reflection on the future strengthening of COSAC.

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Environmental subsidiarity in the EU: or halfway to green federalism?

Abstract

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.

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Federalism and constitution: States’ participation in constitutional reform as a guarantee of the federalisation process. (A study of Spain’s unique model)

Abstract

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.

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From procedural disagreement to joint scrutiny? The Interparliamentary Conference on Stability, Economic Coordination and Governance

Abstract

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.

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Inter-parliamentary cooperation and its administrators

Abstract

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.

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Inter-parliamentary cooperation as a means for reinforcing joint scrutiny in the EU: upgrading existing mechanisms and creating new ones

Abstract

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.

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Inter-parliamentary Cooperation in the EU and outside the Union: Distinctive Features and Limits of the European Experience

Abstract

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.

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