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Introduction: The Europeanisation of parliamentary democracy

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The intensified debate on the democratic legitimacy of the European Union, which started with the ratification debacle of the Maastricht Treaty and has since become ever more prominent, has pushed national parliaments to the centre-stage of public as well as academic interest. At the same time we are witnessing a fast growing interest in the question of how the European integration process impacts on the domestic policies, politics and polities of the Member States. Although numerous studies focused on the question of how, to what degree, in what direction, at what pace and at what point of time Europe matters, the Europeanisation of one particular structural determinant of the Member States, namely the system of parliamentary democracy, is still under-researched.1 A number of excellent empirical studies2 inform us about the institutional reforms that were implemented in national parliaments as a reaction to European integration, but we still know very little about both the mechanisms and dynamics of this adaptation and about the impact on the workings of parliamentary systems. So far, the debates on Europeanisation on the one hand, and on the role of national parliaments in the EU on the other hand, have very rarely been linked.3 Herbert Döring's statement that – with regard to contemporary parliaments – ‘there are still only a few truly cross-national accounts documenting the empirical pattern'4 is all the more true for the Europeanisation of parliamentary democracy. This collection of essays aims to contribute to the ongoing debate on the parliamentary dimension of the European Union. The main objective is to bring together different strands of discussion stemming from research on the impact of European Integration on national parliamentary systems. It therefore comprises theoretical concepts as well as empirical research on the Europeanisation of different elements of parliamentary systems of European states. In this section we seek to clarify how the term Europeanisation is conceptualised throughout the volume and how it will be applied to parliamentary systems.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Mansfield College, Oxford

Publication date: 01 October 2005

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