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Political Research Exchange

Scrutinising EU Politics in the National Parliaments: The Portuguese Case in a Comparative Perspective

European Politics
European Union
Claudia Ramos
Universidade Fernando Pessoa & CLEPUL
Claudia Ramos
Universidade Fernando Pessoa & CLEPUL

Democracy and accountability are ever more present topics of the European Union (EU) political debate. This places parliaments at the core of the debate, for their key position in representative democracies. However, the role of parliaments in multi-level political frameworks must be addressed from a more intricate and inter-institutional perspective, given the many linkages established between the levels.
The paper concentrates on the role of national parliaments and their horizontal and vertical inter-institutional relations, particularly in the new framework created by the enforcement of the Treaty of Lisbon. As an answer to claims of transparency and accountability of the EU decision-making processes, the Treaty reinforced the role of the national parliaments in scrutinising European Union political processes, notably by introducing the mechanism of subsidiarity control. Although recent, this experience can now be assessed in terms of its effectiveness in reinforcing democratic accountability and institutional responsiveness. Furthermore, claims of governmentalisation of the national level of politics as a result of the top down input of EU policies are frequently put forward, an issue that raises the question of parliaments’ democratic supervision over national governments.
The empirical part of the paper maps the scrutiny of European political procedures by the Portuguese Parliament ever since the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty. It analyses the role of the Commission on European Affairs of the Portuguese Parliament in scrutinising EU politics, especially by monitoring and reporting on EU’s initiatives. The interactions with other EU member states’ national parliaments through COSAC are also considered. Besides, the way the national parliament supervises the national government is addressed. The paper takes a comparative approach with other EU members’ national parliaments, whenever data is available and is also a preliminary step for further comparative research.
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