A ‘second youth’ for the EU Speakers’ Conference? A critical appraisal of its ‘quasi-constitutional’ role

Abstract

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.

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