OPAL - Observatory of Parliaments after the Lisbon Treaty

Case study: Sovereign debt crisis and national parliaments PDF Print E-mail
The supposed strengthening of national parliaments by the Lisbon Treaty runs parallel to the outbreak of the sovereign debt crisis. Measures introduced at the European and national level are likely to constrain parts of the sovereignty of national parliaments - either because the latter are bypassed during negotiations at the European level or because their competences are affected by tightened economic and budgetary surveillance.

Although some of these measures are far-reaching, national parliaments have reacted in very different ways to them. OPAL is interested in the concrete reality of parliamentary participation in the negotiations, implementation and execution of measures to combat the sovereign debt crisis and to provide longer term fiscal policy coordination.

No fiscal integration without representation?: National parliaments and negotiations on EU crisis management measures

The first perspective of this case study looks at parliamentary attention and activity during the negotiation of the Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance (TSCG) and the European Stability Mechanism (ESM), which are arguably the most far-reaching measures in terms of judicial bindingness and political salience. Ratification requires 2/3 parliamentary majorities or public referenda in many Member States. In a European integration perspective the Fiscal Compact exemplifies that new core groups in Europe emerge, articulating fundamental trade-offs between deepening and widening. Furthermore, it might be the financial guarantees provided during the crisis that constitute an even more serious constraint of sovereignty for national parliaments than the new legal framework.

By investigating the following set of questions OPAL will also address the issue of democratic legitimacy: In how far is the executive dominance systematically bypassing democratically elected chambers? Do parliaments actually scrutinize their governments during negotiations at the European level on these issues? If yes, which channels do they use and which structures do they create to do so? How do Members of Parliament perceive the new measures and their impact on their competences? Which incentives do national parliaments have to stay inside or outside nascent institutional set-ups?

OPAL will focus on the role that national parliaments play in the forefront of the negotiations at the European level and their attempts to influence the implementation of these measures.

Loosing ‘sovereignty’ or gaining channels of influence?: parliamentary participation in multi-level budgetary exercises

The second perspective focuses on parliamentary participation in one of the new mechanisms of closer budgetary coordination within the EU: the European Semester. The new annual review period under the so-called ‘Six Pack’ legislation will have an impact on national annual budgets and the parliamentary budgetary procedures. The exercise involves a multitude of European actors, e.g. the European Commission, the Council and the European Council and is an interesting example of how parliaments are willing and able to participate in multi-level coordination processes.

We investigate, among others, into the following set of questions: How do parliaments adjust their budgetary consultations to the new timetable? Do Members of Parliament scrutinise the activities of their governments in the European process? Do they interact directly with EU institutions in the review period? Have parliamentary administrations been adapted to cope with the new procedures?

The results will give important evidence on the current state of parliamentary representation in this central field of parliamentary competence.


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