National Parliaments and Transnational Democracy in Europe

Dr. Taru Haapala
Panel Code
Closed Panel

There are typically two ways to look at representative democracy in the European Union (EU): the intergovernmental model (through the governments in the Council) and the supranational model (through the European Parliament). For very different reasons, both models have proven insufficient to legitimize EU policy-making. The intergovernmental model that relies on a national mode of representation becomes practically unsustainable under conditions of increased interdependence because it allows each national representative system to ignore any externalities its decisions may have on other countries. The supranational model still lacks the structural conditions to operate effectively. Even in the most likely case of the EU, political identification and debate are still firmly anchored at the national level.
There may, however, be a ‘third way’ forward that hinges on national parliaments in the EU multi-level system. Specifically, they may be motors of transnational democracy in Europe. On the one hand, this implies ‘zooming out’ on transnational linkages between parliaments, and on how democratic representation is dispersed or shared between them. On the other hand, this suggests ‘zooming in’ on individual legislators or political parties in national parliaments, and on how they contribute to transnational democracy in Europe.
Against this background, the papers in this panel address the following kinds of questions both from a theoretical and empirical perspective:
• What is the role of national parliaments in the transnationalization of democracy in Europe?
• How and under which conditions do national parliaments contribute to transnational democracy in Europe?
• What effect does such transnational democracy have on the EU’s democratic legitimacy?