CLEER Paper 2016/4 - Kleizen

Mapping the involvement of the European Parliament in EU external relations – a legal and empirical analysis

Bjorn Kleizen

As the EU continues to develop its role in global affairs, the question of appropriate democratic involvement becomes increasingly relevant. This paper therefore examines the methods and the degree to which the European Parliament (EP) is involved in EU external relations through a combination of legal and empirical analysis. The legal analysis will investigate the extent to which the Lisbon Treaty has improved the position of the EP in the EU’s external decision-making, the additional arrangements laid down in Inter-Institutional Agreements, and the EP’s leverage through its role as part of the EU’s budgetary authority. Having mapped the methods through which the EP is involved in foreign affairs, the paper subsequently investigates the degree to which the EP’s formal rights and powers translate into actual involvement through two empirical analyses. The paper will first examine the usage of the consent, consultation and information procedures under the Lisbon and Nice Treaties, before turning to the influence that the EP attempts to exert on external affairs through its resolutions.

It will be concluded that the EP’s position in external affairs has benefited significantly from the introduction of the Treaty of Lisbon. Moreover, while the EP remains excluded from a formal role under the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP), it is argued that the EP does attempt to actively influence this policy area through its position as part of the budgetary authority, through several challenges before the ECJ and through a sizeable amount of resolutions. However, it is also observed that this effort has been only partially successful, and that the CFSP remains a largely intergovernmental policy area. The development of the EP’s involvement in external affairs thus continues to be differentiated along two main lines. Its formal powers under most areas of the Treaties have seen significant growth in the past decade, while the CFSP continues to remain a bastion of intergovernmentalism – despite the significant effort of the EP to penetrate this policy area.

 Bjorn Kleizen is a PhD Student at the research group Public Administration & Management (PAM) of the Department of Political Sciences, University of Antwerp


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