OPAL - Observatory of Parliaments after the Lisbon Treaty

Qualitative Data Collection PDF Print E-mail

The second part of the OPAL research focuses on the collection of in-depth qualitative data on parliamentary scrutiny of EU affairs for eight member states. In addition to the four home parliaments of the participating universities and their funding councils (UK, France, Germany and the Netherlands), the parliaments of Denmark, Italy, Poland and Slovakia will be studied to provide broad geographical coverage and allow for more variation between cases. The spread of cases now offers variation on the size of the member state, the legal powers of the parliaments in EU affairs, the type of government (parliamentary or semi-presidential), uni- or bi-cameralism, the length of EU membership and the public opinion on European integration. The aim of the qualitative data collection is to allow OPAL to study its four thematic strands in greater depth by obtaining data that is not readily available through websites, for example on the role of committee clerks or informal cooperation between parliaments or parties from different member states.
In methodological terms, the study of these eight parliaments comprises qualitative interviews with MPs, committee clerks, and party group experts and covers both European affairs committees and a selection of other standing committees. At the European level, interviews with permanent representatives of national parliaments, COSAC staff and key actors in the European Commission, Council of Ministers and European Parliament will be conducted. In addition, the rules of the eight parliaments for the scrutiny of EU affairs will be studied, for example with regard to participation in the Early Warning System and with regard to the control of the activity of the national government in the Council of Ministers. Each of the OPAL teams will study two of the cases in depth but include all four thematic strands in its interviews.

In order to allow OPAL to go beyond a description of formal rules towards the analysis of actual parliamentary involvement in EU affairs, three policy cases have been selected that will also form a substantial part of the qualitative research (see below). The three policy cases cover a legislative case that falls under the EWS (the Commission proposal for a Seasonal Workers Directive), a non- legislative case where national parliaments have limited powers (the ATALANTA mission) and the European debt crisis as a highly salient case where the increased activity of the EU affects national parliaments in their core budgetary powers. In order to study these three cases, OPAL will also employ documentary analysis of the reports, debates, questions, resolutions and all other relevant activities of the eight parliaments.


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