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A re-conceptualisation of democratic representation? Empirical insights on the role of members of national parliaments in methods of open coordination

Rik de Ruiter
Departments of Political Science and Public Administration, Universiteit Leiden
Rik de Ruiter
Departments of Political Science and Public Administration, Universiteit Leiden
Open Panel

Abstract

This paper aims to answer the question to what extent a re-conceptualisation of democratic representation is needed in light of the increased use of non-hierarchical, non-binding policy instruments in the multi-level EU governance system. Given the encompassing nature of this question, this study will focus on only one of its aspects, i.e. the role of members of national parliaments in methods of open coordination (OMCs). In this paper regression models are estimated to explain the variation between OMCs and member states with regard to i) the scrutiny exercised by members of national parliaments over the emergence of OMCs at the EU level, and ii) the use of information from OMCs by parliamentarians of opposition parties during debates with the government. The OMCs studied in this paper are adopted on the following policy fields: employment (EES), social inclusion, pensions, education, R&D and internet policy (e-Europe/i2010). Two Member States are studied: the United Kingdom and the Netherlands. The scrutiny exercised by members of national parliaments with regard to OMCs is measured by a content analysis of parliamentary documents for the periods 1996-2010 (EES) and 1999-2010 (other OMCs). In the remaining part of the paper the empirical findings are discussed in light of nation-state based conceptualisations of democratic representation. This results in an assessment of the extent to which democratic representation needs to be re-conceptualised due to the increased use in the EU of non-hierarchical, non-binding policy instruments.