Europeanization can be defined as the way actors respond domestically to European constraints. This happens through three main channels: the first is the implementation of EU decisions, through the adaptation of parliamentary procedures and practices. The second one is the compliance of internal legislation to the European directives, and the lasts one is the policy-making process as a whole. Institutions were able to introduce new practices and procedures in line with the aim of enhancing the role of the Parliament in EU affairs.
The Eurozone Crisis has had both a political impact and a legal one on Europeanization. The first has been characterized by the dominance of the executives and the consequent loss of sovereignty in key areas of parliamentary authority. The latter, by the trend of making intergovernmental agreements (ESFS/ESM, Euro Plus Pact, Fiscal Compact) outside the european legal framework,.
The infamous European ‘democratic deficit’ is now a synonym of a weak European Parliament and a not-so-transparent Council, despite the balance having been reestablished and the EP having regained its policy-making role. Those pro-Europe perceive it as a valid stimulus towards a better integration. For the Eurosceptics, on the other hand, that’s enough reason to criticize the EU. Granted, the EP is gaining more and more decision making power, but it still can’t sanction the ministers and it has to respond to National Parliaments. And this led to a transfer of power in apolitical ensembles of technocrats such as the Commission and the ECB, which means that 28 states with different backgrounds have to struggle to find an agreement. Could a single European government be a better solution?
The real democratic deficit today is perhaps concentrated at the national level, since a loss of -essentially legislative- power of MS has not resulted in a parallel empowerment of the EP. Institutions are late in their Europeanization process, and a solution to adapt and re-orient domestic policies would be for National Parliaments to exercise their function of control. It is true, though, that as long as their rights will be addressed in generic terms such as “discussion”, “participation” and “involvement”, it will be difficult to give them proper legal authority.
The elections of Jean-Claude Junker as the new President of the Commission constituted a crucial milestone in the evolution of the EU. For the first time the choice did not fall upon the Council -hence making the President accountable only to the heads of states- but upon the Parliament. Could this shift of power towards the people be the first step towards a strengthened link between citizens and institutions and, more importantly, towards a renewed trust in the EU?
Maria Felicita Ferraro
For more inormation:
Katrin Auel and Oliver Höing, Scrutiny in Challenging Times – National Parliaments in the Eurozone Crisis, Swedish Institute for European Policy Studies, January 2014. Available at: http://www.sieps.se/sites/default/files/2014_1epa_A4.pdf
JOHAN P. OLSEN, The Many Faces of Europeanization, University of Oslo, JCMS 2002 Volume 40. Number 5. pp. 921–52