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National Parliaments in the European Union: Are There Any Benefits to Integration?

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Scholars and observers alike agree that the European Union has weakened national parliaments. This article posits that such a view, while generally accurate, ignores ways in which the EU has helped national parliaments in their function as regulators of society. It identifies two key mechanisms: precedent setting and policy transfer. First, the EU has produced laws on topics considered beyond the traditional remit of national parliaments. The EU's intervention has justified the production of unprecedented domestic laws that go well beyond the incorporation of EU principles. This has expanded the legislative reach of national parliaments. The article considers the experiences of Italy and The Netherlands in the area of antitrust. Second, the EU has fostered an environment conducive to cross-national lesson drawing. The resulting knowledge has helped the design of more effective domestic legislative frameworks. This has confirmed the viability of national parliaments as regulatory institutions. The article examines the Open Method of Co-ordination and its application to the areas of employment and social inclusion. It concludes with a discussion of parliaments in future Member States and in Mercosur.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-0386.2005.00256.x

Publication date: March 1, 2005

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