OPAL - Observatory of Parliaments after the Lisbon Treaty

Quantitative data collection PDF Print E-mail

While national parliaments have, however belatedly, arrived on the scene as one of the responses in the debate about the ‘democratic deficit’ in the EU, the discussion in the literature is ongoing as to whether national parliaments can and actually do play an effective role in European policy- making. The overarching aim of OPAL is therefore to provide a systematic analysis of the various ways national parliaments become involved in EU politics and the factors underlying their choice of strategy. This will be achieved by a combination of large-N quantitative data and qualitative case studies.

First, we are developing a unique dataset on parliamentary activities in EU affairs since the coming into force of the Treaty of Lisbon in all 40 national parliamentary chambers in the EU. This data includes parliamentary debates, resolutions/mandates, parliamentary opinions (within the Early Warning System and the Political Dialogue with the Commission) as well as parliamentary activities regarding inter-parliamentary cooperation, relations to other member states or EU institutions and hearings with private actors and experts. In addition, we collect data on EAC meetings, parliamentary questions on EU issues, motions of censure related to EU affairs as well as data on the use of other parliamentary rights included in the Lisbon Treaty (e.g. involvement in simplified Treaty revision procedures).

Second, we collect even more detailed data on parliamentary activities within our three policy cases (Sovereign Debt Crisis, Seasonal Workers Directive and EU NAVFOR – Operation Atalanta) for the eight case study member states (Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Slovakia and the United Kingdom). The main objective of this dataset is to provide systematic empirical evidence for the qualitative case studies. In addition, it will allow us to analyse a broader range of parliamentary activities in specific policy areas using quantitative methods as well.

The main sources for the data, which is collected by a team of 25 coders with the necessary language competencies, are parliamentary websites and documents. In addition, the collection draws on data provided by the inter-parliamentary exchange platform IPEX (ipex.eu). The outcome will be the first comprehensive and comparative dataset on parliamentary activities in EU affairs across all national parliaments of the EU, allowing us to analyse and compare the level of parliamentary involvement across all Chambers and for different policy areas, and to develop explanations for the actual use national parliaments make of their established and new rights. The result will be a rich picture not only of parliamentary control activities in EU affairs, but also of their cooperation with and contacts to external actors. Finally, due to the organisation of the dataset by EU document, we will be able to analyse the connection between national parliamentary activities and decision-making at the European level. The latter will, in particular, be made possible through linking the database to the Observatory of European Institutions, established by Centre d’études européennes of Sciences Po Paris (blogs.sciences-po.fr/recherche-observatory-european-institutions/). The Observatory is a comprehensive dataset on European decision-making processes that integrates the legislative activity of the Commission, the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union and tracks both inter- and intra-institutional activities. Connecting our database to the Observatory will thus allow us to analyse the specific role of national parliaments in EU policymaking from an inter-institutional perspective.


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