Parliaments and European security policy: Mapping the parliamentary field

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Series Details Vol.14 (2010), No.12
Publication Date 2010
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The more important governmental cooperation and bureaucratic involvement become in ESDP, the more pressing becomes the issue of democratic control of executive cooperation. This article starts from the argument that parliamentary involvement in decision-making is of central importance for ensuring the democratic quality of European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP). It uses the notion of a multilevel parliamentary field to examine how parliaments at different levels are currently involved in ESDP. It turns out that during the past two decades or so no clear-cut privileged channel of parliamentary involvement has evolved in this field. Although national parliaments are of central importance due to the intergovernmental nature of decision-making, even they face severe problems in controlling executive decisions as their powers vary widely and both international cooperation among executive actors and military integration pose severe problems to control procedures at the national level. The European Parliament and various forms of inter-parliamentary cooperation complement the work of member state parliaments. While they provide opportunities for public scrutiny of European security policies and for information sharing, working relations among parliaments in the field are not without frictions. The more executive decision-making departs from the purely intergovernmental model, the more problematic the existing arrangements for parliamentary involvement will become. There will be no easy remedy as adjustments in parliamentary control will require careful attention to the relations of the different elements in the parliamentary field.

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