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Coming to Terms With the “Legitimacy Crisis” of the CFSP: The New Powers of the European Parliament in External Relations

Open Panel

Abstract

Since its early beginnings, the Member States of the European Communities have tried to implement a common foreign policy. Initially, occasional informal intergovernmental cooperation and policy coordination could be accomplished. Only the Maastricht Treaty (1992) introduced an institutional framework for external relations of the European Union including economic as well as political regulation. However, the emerging Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) has been criticized for its lack of democratic legitimacy and public participation. CFSP in particular have been dominated by the Member States and the European Commission at the expense of influence of and democratic control by the European Parliament (EP). Therefore, it is puzzling that the Lisbon Treaty (2007) implemented new powers for the EP in external relations. This paper will investigate whether the EP was granted these new powers due to a new strategy of the EU to enhance its general legitimacy or if intra-institutional dynamics within the EU have led to the new role of the Parliament. Content analyses of inter-institutional documents on the construction of the new European External Service suggest recognition of the EP as an important actor by the other European institutions. Furthermore, empirical findings propose that due to the strong democratic profile of the EP, the other EU institutions allow the EP to influence negotiations even further than the Lisbon Treaty intended. Hence, the results shed light on a top-down process of democratization within the EU and have important implications for the analysis of self-legitimating practices of IOs in general.