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National parliamentary scrutiny of European Union affairs: explaining divergence of formal arrangements and actual activity

Hörner, Julian (2015) National parliamentary scrutiny of European Union affairs: explaining divergence of formal arrangements and actual activity. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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The role of national parliaments in the European Union (EU) has gained prominence in the last decade among academics and practitioners alike in relation to the alleged democratic deficit of the EU. The existing literature has largely focused on the formal powers of national parliaments. However, the formally strongest parliaments are not necessarily the most active, and vice versa. This thesis argues that this divergence between formal rights and actual activity exists because not formal scrutiny powers, but public Euroscepticism, the presence of parties for which Europe is salient and which care deeply about Europe (‘issue entrepreneurs’) as well as internal party cohesion on the EU are the most important factors influencing activity. Public Euroscepticism leads to more debate and resolutions when issue entrepreneurs are present and when parties have a coherent position on Europe. Recent measures and future plans to further increase the formal powers of national parliaments might not lead to more activity and might thus not help to ameliorate the democratic deficit. Methodologically, this thesis relies on computer-assisted content analysis, multilevel models as well as elite interviews. Each of the three papers focuses on a different aspect of parliamentary activity. The first paper focuses on the ‘communication function’ of parliaments and presents an analysis of parliamentary debates in EU affairs. The second paper quantitatively analyses the determinants of parliamentary activity in the form of resolutions, relating to the government control or ‘scrutiny function’. The third paper investigates parliamentary scrutiny activity in-depth in a case study of the ‘Fiscal Compact’. The thesis argues that national parliaments should mostly concentrate on their communication function in EU affairs, while other functions might best be carried out by the European Parliament. It thus suggests that different parliamentary functions can best be fulfilled by different institutions in the EU multilevel system.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2015 Julian M. Hörner
Library of Congress subject classification: J Political Science > JN Political institutions (Europe)
Sets: Departments > European Institute
Supervisor: Hobolt, Sara and Featherstone, Kevin

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