Workshop: “Recent Developments in the Study of the European Parliament: new topics, approaches and findings”

Date: April 8, 2015
Place: Bruges (Belgium)
Contact person: Olivier Costa


Additional Information

Find the call for papers here.



Nathalie Brack (FNRS, Université Libre de Bruxelles, Brussels) - Opposing Europe inside the European Parliament: Which strategies for Eurosceptic MEPs?




European integration has entered a new and more difficult phase of its existence, characterized by mass Euroscepticism, the rise of radical and anti-establishment parties and a mainstreaming of anti-EU rhetoric (Vasilopoulou, 2013). The ongoing economic and financial crisis has re-opened debates on the raison d’être of European integration as well as on the scope and the legitimacy of EU’s intervention while the unpopular bailouts have increased the EU’s visibility in the public sphere (Mudde, 2014). This context has provided fertile ground for the galvanization of oppositions to the EU. As a result, there has been an unprecedented success for Eurosceptic parties at the 2014 EP elections and Euroscepticism has become persistent and embedded at both the national and the supranational levels (Usherwood and Startin 2013), which may have considerable consequences for the EU.

As opposition to the EU have become more diverse and visible, there has been a growing academic interest in Euroscepticism. This literature has first and foremost sought to understand the nature and the factors explaining the positions of political actors (Conti & Memoli, 2012; Kopecky & Mudde, 2002; Marks et al., 2006; Szczerbiak & Taggart, 2008). Generally however, scholars have tended to focus on the national level on the one hand and to neglect the analysis of Eurosceptic actors once elected to Parliament on the other hand (Jensen & Spoon, 2010). The literature on Euroscepticism at the supranational level remains comparatively sparse and few studies analyse its consequences for the EU.
This paper aims at analyzing how Eurosceptic MEPs conceive and carry out their parliamentary mandate and at examining the consequences of the presence of these dissenting voices for the EP and the EU.


Edoardo Bressanelli & Nicola Chelotti (Department of European and International Studies, King’s College London / London School of Economics) - Legislating in the shadow of the European Council: Empowering or silencing the European Parliament?



Because of the limited powers of the EU’s supranational institutions on economic and fiscal policies, the new economic governance of the Union has been largely characterized by its intergovernmental nature, with the dominant role of the European Council and the Council of Ministers (i.e. Fabbrini, 2013; Puetter, 2014; Puetter et al. 2015). Yet, the important issue of strengthening fiscal surveillance and monitoring for the Euro-area member states was addressed through two legislative packages (the ‘Six Pack’ and the ‘Two Pack’) adopted with the ordinary legislative procedure. This paper therefore asks: to what extent has the European Parliament been able to impact on the new economic governance of the EU? Assuming that the conditions for parliamentary influence in this policy field are particularly demanding (the general framework is established by the European Council, and the modus operandi is largely intergovernmental), we will process-trace if and, in case, how the EP impacted on the final legislative outcome. In this vein, the paper will analyse the ordinary legislative procedure under a particular mode of governance – when decisions are taken under the shadow of the European Council.



Olivier Costa (College of Europe, Bruges) - Interparliamentary cooperation and the role of political groups in the European Parliament



While numerous authors stress the importance of the procedural rules in political institutions, very few studies have focused on the European Parliament rules. This article analyses the internal challenges of the rationalization of the Parliament’s functioning and their impact on the leadership structures, the political groups, deliberation and the behavior of europarliamentarians. It is structured around two research questions: how can we explain the changes in the internal rules and what is at stake? What are the consequences of the procedural changes for the institution, its public image and its members? We argue that the rules’ reforms reflect contrasted conceptions of the institution but also internal power struggles, some actors maximizing their interests. Furthermore, we demonstrate that ‘efficiency’ became an objective in itself, taking precedence over parliamentarians’ freedom.



Thibaud Deruelle (College of Europe, Bruges ) - EU democracy in light of different conceptions of the EU political system




The topic of National Parliaments and their role in the EU has been a fruitful field in EU studies. From their lack of involvement in EU affairs, to their ‘institutionalisation ‘in the Lisbon treaty, the study of national parliaments in EU studies has been for a long time divided in two approaches. On the one side the study of their interactions with the EU institutions, and mainly the Commission and the European Parliament (EP). On the other side, the question of the cooperation between the different national parliaments has focused for a very long time on the only existing forum in place: the COSAC. The recent developments linked to the creation of the European Semester have brought new subjects to study the relation that ties national parliaments together. Out paper will focus on the Parliamentary week. The ‘week’ was designed on the model of interparliamentary committee meetings (ICMs), which are usually proposed at the initiative of one committee of the EP inviting relevant national parliamentary committees. The practice is thus not new but receives much more publicity since the Parliamentary week was created. This contribution will look at the growing importance of political groups in the interparliamentary cooperation. This seems relevant for three reasons: first, the as the cooperation at the level of Committees increases, we may expect the socialization of MPs to increase as well. The Parliamentary week has been created in 2013 and will be a yearly rendez-vous for MPs. Second it brings together the Economic and Financial Committees, the Economic Policy Committees, the Employment Committees and the Social Protection Committees. Those committees have a high potential in terms of left/right opposition and thus underline the relevance of MPs cooperation at the level of groups. Third, just like the EP facilitate this mode of cooperation, political groups might seek the same position of facilitators. 


Michael Kaeding (University Duisburg-Essen) - Out of the dark, into the light: structural underrepresentation in the European Parliament




This paper investigates the determinants of assignments to European Parliament negotiating teams comprising rapporteurs, shadow rapporteurs and coordinators. We re-examine the argument that underrepresentation of MEPs from new member states on these key posts after enlargement might have been due to a ‘learning phase’. We find that Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) from newer Member states remain considerably less likely to act as rapporteurs during the second term after enlargement (2009-2014). Most importantly, this trend also holds for shadow rapporteurs under the co-decision procedure, that is when they matter most. This structural underrepresentation has potentially important implications for European integration: MEPs from newer Member States are arguably less able to influence legislation. We suggest three readings of the results by asking whether MEPs from these countries are less willing, lacking skills, or disadvantaged. Future research on rapporteurship and coordinator allocation and legislative careers should seek to answer these questions.


Silje Synnøve Lyder Hermansen ( Department of Political Science, University of Oslo) - Renominations to Office - Incumbent Candidates to the European Parliament




How do national parties assess their representation in the European Parliament (EP) when they re-nominate incumbent candidates? Relying on original data, this paper analyzes incumbent members of the EP (MEPs) in the 2004, 2009 and 2014 elections in order to identify how parties use information to select candidates.  Because national parties do not organize legislative work in the European Parliament, they have limited information about their MEPs’ actions in office. Also, the parties’ ability to sanction behavior is constrained, since they do not control positions in Parliament. This puts parties in a similar position to voters. Applying a base-line model of electoral accountability I find that in cases where parties find it necessary to assess performance in office, they rely on the outcome of incumbent candidates’ service. The institution of rapporteurships in the European Parliament provides MEPs and parties with an efficient measure of individual impact on policy-making. When allocation of reports is more competitive, this conveys more information to parties about the MEP’s type. Handling codecision and budget reports therefore improves MEPs’ chances for a safe seat allocation to a greater extent than do other activities. Similarly, parties will rely more heavily on information provided by Parliament when their initial uncertainty about MEP types is higher. This is for example true for former national politicians whose performance in the EP is known to vary extensively. 


Oleksandr Moskalenko (University of Turku) - European Parliament in the current Ukrainian crisis – shaping the inter-institutional framework for CFSP after Lisbon.



The current Ukrainian crisis is often called the greatest challenge for the security in Europe. The crisis has been a major focus of the Parliament’s activity, despite its formal exclusion from the EU Common Foreign and Security Policy by the Lisbon treaty. Moreover, the Parliament treats the crisis not a separate matter, but in the context of the general EU Eastern European policies. This development should certainly be viewed in the general terms of shaping the new post-Lisbon institutional setting in the EU external relations with emphasis on principles of the comprehensive approach as determined by Joint Communication of 11 December 2013, ‘The EU’s comprehensive approach to external conflict and crises’ (JOIN(2013)0030). This approach views the EU foreign policy as common and shared responsibility of all EU actors, including the European Parliament. My argument is that the Parliament’s current performance in the Ukrainian crisis demonstrates its ambition for a higher degree of involvement in CFSP in the endevour to overcome the structural gap between the Parliament’s formal competences in the treaty-making process and the formal lack of political powers outside the process. From this perspective further “parliamentarization” of the CFSP especially in terms of the policy-formation process and Parliament’s monitoring function would contribute to strengthening the coherence of the EU, making its international performance stronger and more effective. 


Petra Pintér (Budapest Corvinus University) - How Hungarian politicians used the social media during the 2014 EP campaign?




The paper will study the use of new media sources by Hungarian political parties during the European Parliamentary elections in 2014. The paper will discuss the media coverage in Hungary during the European Parliamentary elections in 2014 as well as provide a short recap of the national Parliamentary elections earlier the same year in order to give a comparative analysis of the two elections in terms of social media use. Subsequently, it will be shown how Hungarian parties used the different sources of the internet (Instagram, Twitter, Facebook) and social media features (registration form, going viral, memes, hashtag, selfie, video message, apps, blogs, etc), and how successful this was for them. Use of social media by Hungarian MEPs and the European Commissioner will also be covered. The study examines political agenda-setting and new types of media within the discursive framework of political communication where the sets represent politics, the media and the public and their intersection represents political communication. In this model political communication can be described as the discursive interaction between the public, the media and politics, in which they battle constantly for domination over the limited time and space on the agenda. Apparently, the dimension of communication for parties has changed over time, in modern democracies of small or mid-sized countries the mainstream media is more and more subservient to the biggest political parties, while the internet is a difficult source to control given the many sources of information and the intensive discussion among the electorate.  


Corentin Poyet (Centre Emile Durkheim, Sciences Po Bordeaux) - Working at home: MEPs day-to-day practice of political representation in their constituency


In early 2000s, Simon Hix and his colleagues declared EP constitutes a good laboratory to test theories and hypotheses about legislative or party behavior. However, scholars mainly focused on roll-call votes analysis allowing them to investigate voting behavior, coalitions formation as well as activities in technical committees (Hix 2001; Hix, Noury and Roland 2007; Kreppel 2007; Mammoudh and Raunio 2003; McElroy 2006). In this paper, we propose to go further to analyze MEPs behavior with new methodological approach mobilizing new type of data. According to Fenno (1978), we argue that work in Parliament should not be investigated without considering constituency work. Surprisingly, despite the institutionalization of constituency work (the green weeks), only few studies focused on micro-level linkages between MEPs and citizens (Farrel and Scully 2007). Mobilizing ethnographic data collected in the IMPLOC project (managed by Olivier Costa and Jean-Benoit Pilet), the purpose of this paper is to investigate the concrete practice of political representation through the observation of MEPs’ activities in their constituency. This paper will investigate the scope, the practice and the pitfalls of MEPs constituency work and reflect it based on the current theories of representation. In addition, by investigating day-to-day contacts between citizens and their MEPs, this paper will offer a new perspective in the debate about the democratic deficit of EP (Farrel and Scully 2007; Clark and Rohrschneider 2009) and EU institutions (Moravcsik 2002; Rittberger 2003).


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