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A new policy entrepreneur in Brussels? The European Parliament under the Treaty of Lisbon

Hae-Won Jun
Korea National Diplomatic Academy
Hae-Won Jun
Korea National Diplomatic Academy
Open Panel

Abstract

As the Treaty of Lisbon took into force in December 2009, the European Parliament gained new powers in the EU’s external relations. Based on the newly treaty-given competences, the EP tried to maximize its influence over the EU-Korea Free Trade Agreement, the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), the EU-US Passenger Name Record agreement, and the EU-US SWIFT agreement, and the European External Action Service. In contrast to its insignificant performance in the area of external security, such activeness of the EP in other fields of external relations is highly notable and begs a question on the EP’s role in the EU’s external relations: under what conditions does the EP play a policy-maker in the EU’s external relations? This paper attempts to answer this question by applying the literature of agenda-setting for the first one year of the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty. It argues that enhancing its institutional status is merely one of the motivations for the EP to take maximalist approach to interpret its competences indicated in the treaty. For successfully inducing other actors such as the Council of the EU and the European Commission to accept such interpretation, the EP needs to justify its empowerment in terms of possible policy outcomes. The EP needs to prove that its participation in the policy-making process should improve the policy-making process and produce better policy outcomes than otherwise. More specifically, the EP’s agenda-setting requires three elements of policy environments: public consensus on the saliency of the issue, interests to represent, and relevance with left-right ideology. This paper will compare the EP’s exercise of its newly gained power in the EU’s external relations in different policy areas.