Universiteit Leiden

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Parliamentarisation from the top? Success and failure in European Parliament empowerment

  • Adrienne Héritier, European University Institute
Friday 9 February 2018
Turfmarkt 99
2511 DP The Hague

Research Seminar

In recent decades, the European Parliament (EP) has been extremely skilful in pushing forward its institutional agenda for the parliamentarisation of the European Union. We define parliamentarisation as the process whereby a polity moves increasingly towards a government based on the support of a majority of the members of a democratically elected parliament. The majority of representatives in the parliament support the government, which in turn is accountable to parliament. In a parliamentary democracy, the parliament is responsible for legislation in all areas of decision-making including budgetary powers on both revenues and expenditures; it has a right of legislative initiative and the head of government is usually elected from the majority of its members (Fraenkel 1964; Bagehot 1867).We argue that the institutional architecture of the European Union has brought us closer to a parliamentary democracy. Our main research questions are as follows: have these developments been driven by the EP's initiatives and, if so, under which circumstances was it successful in doing so? Under which conditions were the parliamentarian strategies successful in legislation, the nomination and investiture of the Commission, the budgetary process and in the two substantive policy areas of economic governance and bilateral trade agreements? We end by assessing how the steps towards a parliamentarisation of the EU are met by counter-forces such as the new intergovernmentalism  and what that means for the overall polity of the EU.

There is no paper for this seminar.


Adrienne Héritier is emeritus professor at the Department of Political and Social Sciences and the Robert Schuman Center for Advanced Studies at the European University Institute (Florence, Italy). Héritier is a highly influential international researcher in the field of multilevel governance, decision making and institutional theory. Her work has contributed to the literature on the Europeanization of policy in the past thirty years. On February 8, 2018 she will receive an honorary doctorate from Leiden University – the first ever awarded by the Institute of Public Administration.

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