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Transnational Parliamentarism and the Dynamics of the IPC CFSP/CSDP: Policy-making, Accountability and Cooperation

Abstract

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.

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Attempts to change the British House of Lords into a second chamber of the nations and regions: explaining a history af failed reforms

Abstract

The House of Lords is the world’s longest-established and probably best-known second chamber. Wholly unelected, with most members appointed for life, it appears a vestige of the ‘elite’ form of bicameralism once common throughout Europe. Hence calls for major reform are commonplace. However successful changes have been piecemeal and rare. Meanwhile the UK is not federal, but is nonetheless a ‘union state’, comprising the territories of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, each with its own distinct governing arrangements. These were most recently boosted by the 1997 Labour government’s devolution programme. Hence for decades, and particularly the last 20 years, devolution and Lords reform have both been on the UK’s political agenda. Throughout this time attempts to create a ‘second chamber of the nations and regions’ have repeatedly failed. This paper reviews the proposals made, and the obstacles they faced - drawing lessons for Britain, and territorial bicameralism more widely.

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The Austrian Bundesrat – Imperfect and Unreformed

Abstract

According to many legal and political scientists the Austrian Bundesrat is generally considered to be a paradigmatic example of a politically and legally weak second chamber embedded in a strongly centralised federal system. This view is justified. However, there is the need for a more differentiated view with regard to Austria’s federal system and its second chamber.

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Beyond Second Chambers: Alternative Representation of Territorial Interests and Their Reasons

Abstract

The paper contends that bicameral systems, irrespective of their differences in composition and powers, are unfit to represent territorial interests in the national decisionmaking process, except in some residual cases. What subnational entities seek is participation rather than representation. This is why alternative, executive-based institutions in which also the national government is present are mushrooming and second chambers are ineffective as territorial bodies. Furthermore, there is a clear trend to move from bicameralism to bilateralism, meaning that instead of taking advantage of ineffective multilateral institutions, strong subnational units try to channel their claims through bilateral instruments. Overall, the unresolved dilemma of subnational representation has little to do with the architecture of second chambers and rather lays in the tension between individual and collective representation.

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Bicameralism in Belgium: the dismantlement of the Senate for the sake of multinational confederalism

Abstract

Belgium was established in 1830 as a unitary state with a bicameral parliament, with symmetrical powers for the upper and the lower house. While federalism and bicameralism are often considered a pair, the Belgian system shows an inverse relationship. The Senate gradually turned into a house representative of the sub-states, but its powers declined inversely proportional to the level of decentralisation of the Belgian state. This paper inquires how the dismantling of the Belgian Senate fits in the increasingly devolutionary nature of the Belgian state structure. First, it nuances the link between bicameralism and federalism: bicameralism is an institutional device for federalism, but not by necessity, and only under specific conditions. The official narrative is that the Belgian Senate was reformed to turn it into a house of the sub-states in line as a federal principle, but in reality the conditions to fulfil this task are not fulfilled. Instead, the paper holds that bicameralism in Belgium is subordinate to the needs of multinational conflict management, and that complying with the federative ideal of an upper house giving voice to the collective needs of the sub-states would stand in the way of the evolution of the Belgian system towards confederalism based on two major linguistic groups.

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Camouflaged Culture: The ‘Discursive Journey’ of the EU’s Cultural Programmes

Abstract

This article inspects discursive shifts in the EU’s cultural policy and how these relate to the four ‘generations’ of EU cultural programmes: Raphaël, Ariane, Kaleidoscope; Culture 2000; Culture 2007; and the current Creative Europe programme. This paper therefore accounts for a ‘discursive journey’ that started in the 1970s and culminated with Article 128 in the Maastricht Treaty, which formally constituted the EU’s cultural policy. The article reveals that there can be detected certain shifts in discourses concerning the EU’s cultural programmes, but these shifts are aligned to older discourses within the cultural sector which, prior to the Maastricht Treaty, applied implicit cultural interventions. These therefore represented ‘camouflaged’ cultural understanding and appliances, which were instrumental and promoted economically and politically induced discourses. The major shift detected in the recent Creative Europe programme is a step away from discourses that facilitate the political construction of a ‘people’s Europe’, thereby utilising further discourses that promote aims which adhere to the Union’s Europe 2020 Strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth.

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European Union and Challenges of Cultural Policies: Critical Perspectives. An Introduction

Abstract

This introductory article contextually frames the contributions to the special issue gathering articles critically addressing the key questions and challenges that the European Union (EU) and national cultural policies are facing in the 21st century. Interdisciplinary contributions in this special issue point to the diverse understandings of culture, the complexity of the EU governance system, and the discrepancy and mismatch of the national and EU levels that regulate the field of culture. The authors detect the inconsistent development strategies on different policy levels, and point to the democratic deficits of the EU governance system and EU policies. Selected contributions address a further focal shift of EU culture policies toward an economistic orientation to culture, while others address the need for a more critical approach that moves beyond predominantly positivistic and normative approaches to cultural policy research in Europe.

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Extra-legislative Functions of Second Chambers in Federal Systems

Abstract

Discussions regarding the functional design of second chambers in federal or quasifederal systems seem to focus mainly on legislative functions. Thus, extra- or nonlegislative functions related to the executive branch or the judiciary have been rather neglected in the literature. This paper will examine the extra-legislative functions of second chambers which include Austria, Belgium, Germany, Italy, Spain, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. By grouping the functions into different categories (relations with the Government, appointment functions and functions in the field of international affairs, powers in relation to the European Union and functions granted to maintain the legitimate constitutional order), their effectiveness in serving the purposes of bicameralism, and of regional representation, will be explored.

Open access
From Inconsistencies to Contingencies -Understanding Policy Complexity of Novi Sad 2021 European Capital of Culture

Abstract

The case of Novi Sad European Capital of Culture 2021 (NS2021), in which various rationales of cultural policy (local, national, supranational) thread a complex web of political interactions, brings interesting challenges to the theoretical landscape of cultural policy research. We start with the analysis of the Bidbook NS2021 as a cultural policy text, discussing its inconsistencies and ambiguities. Then we study the context and the policy process through participant observation and interviews with key authors. We find that the policy-making process is best explained as contingent - meaning that it is dependent on the historical discourses, demands of the specific policy genre, external requirements and internal pressures, and individual agencies and accidents. In the concluding section, we discuss theoretical and methodological implications that policy contingency poses to cultural policy studies.

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The German Bundesrat and Executive Federalism

Abstract

The German Basic Law constitutes federalism as a unique political system which is characterised by intertwined decision-making of the Federation (Bund) and the component units (Länder). The executives of the two federal tiers and the Länder executives within the Bundesrat play a major role in making joint decisions. They are forced to make decisions in the ‘joint-decision mode’ (Politikverflechtung) which is detrimental to accountability. Reform efforts were made to unbundle competences and to reduce the number of bills which require the Bundesrat’s consent. Due to the dominance of the executives and the distribution of powers between the federal tiers (legislation is dominated by the Bund, execution is dominated by the Länder), German federalism is rightly called ‘executive federalism’. German federalism can even be regarded as an embodiment of that concept since it covers all possible aspects of ‘executive federalism’. The Bundesrat has an important share in that classification.

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