CIAO DATE: 03/05
Volume XXXIX, No. 2 (April — June 2004)
Four articles of this issue of The International Spectator address, from various perspectives, the problem of the democratic accountability of the institutions of the European Union and, in this context, the evolving role of the European Parliament.
The Democratic Accountability of the EU and the Role of the European Parliament
The European Parliament and the Dilemmas of European Integration, by Brendan Donnelly
Over the past twenty five years, the European Parliament has been an energetic advocate and effective promoter of European integration. This active role of the EP is, however, now constrained by the current clash within the European Union of differing visions for the Union's development. The clash is apparent in the ambiguous recommendations of the European Constitution on the role of the European and national parliaments. The European Parliament needs and most of its members want this debate to be resolved in favour of a European Union with strong and autonomous central institutions. But its capacity to influence the actual outcome of the debate is limited.
European Political Parties: A (Timidly) Rising Actor in the EU Political System, by Luciano Bardi
Despite three main European level party structures - national parties, EP groups and transnational federations - intergovernmentalism still prevails over supranationalism, in that national parties are much more effective through intergovernmental decision-making than EP parliamentary groups or transnational federations. The rather positive potential of parliamentary groups revealed by studies is hardly brought to fruition because of the weakness of their links to civil society. This has had a negative effect on the growth of real Europarties, on the effectiveness of the EP and on the democratic quality of the EU system. Changes will or could ensue from three recent developments: the European Constitution, EU enlargement and the statute for European political parties. In particular, the latter's provisions could consolidate the various party components operating at the European level.
The European Parliament in CFSP: More than a Marginal Player? (PDF, 11 pages, 122.1 KB), by Udo Diedrichs
Over the years, the European Parliament has skillfully used its limited powers in Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) to increase its influence. Particularly in the budgetary field, the EP has an important say and, in the area of Security and Defence Policy (ESDP), it can shape civilian crisis management decisions. The conclusion of the Constitutional Treaty will probably not dramatically increase the EP's powers, but it could provide impulse for further development of the EP's role and functions, thereby enhancing accountability. In particular, relations with the future EU Foreign Minister will be crucial for defining Parliament's influence on CFSP. The EP should also try to establish itself as a public arena for debate of foreign and security issues within the European Union, in order to gain a higher profile in that field.
The Evolution of CFSP Institutions: Where does Democratic Accountability Stand?, by Esther Barbé
The tendency to "cross-pillarise" EU security and defence aspects, together with the "mushrooming" of new security and defence institutions that are asymmetric in terms of membership and competences contribute to blurring the delimitation of responsibilities on security and defence issues. Consecutive reforms of CFSP institutions have been based on the principles of coherence, visibility and continuity and have not improved accountability. Despite the new figures of an elected President of the European Council and a European Foreign Minister, introduced with the Constitution, CFSP and especially ESDP have gone in the direction of further decentralisation of institutional structures and the creation of new flexibility instruments. These changes may make European foreign and defence policy more efficient, but they also pose challenges to the accountability dimension as they could cause greater fragmentation and less transparency.
Not so Far Apart - Societal Change and its Impact on Transatlantic Relations, by Cesare Merlini
Three dimensions of societal change - religion, demographic trends and immigration - are frequently cited as demonstrating a growing difference between Europe and the United States. Although these factors have their impact, society in the West - on both sides of the Atlantic - is moving steadily in the direction of growing communication and interdependence within the framework of a still detectable basic trend towards secularisation and the institutionalisation of social behaviours and relations. Two other equally important instances of societal change (the role of women in society and the advent of the Internet) are clearly bringing the US and Europe - and the rest of the world - together. Thus, if there is the perception of a faltering convergence between the United States and Europe, this is the result of the policy choices of governments, not of US and European societies drifting apart.
Italian Foreign Policy Survey
The Middle East Policy of the Holy See, by Silvio Ferrari
In addition to protecting Jerusalem and the holy sites, Vatican policy in the Middle East is aimed at the permanence of a large and vital Christian community in the Middle East, also as a pendant to the Muslim presence in Europe and a factor of equilibrium for the entire Mediterranean area. Radical transformations have thrown this strategy into crisis: the rise of Islamic radicalism has reopened the spectre of discrimination against (if not persecution of ) Christians, striking to the heart of the Pope's Middle East strategy, aimed at reconstructing a climate of dialogue and reconciliation between Jews, Christians and Muslims. In fuelling Islamic terrorism, it has triggered the intervention of the United States in the area, opposed not only because the Holy See wants US leadership to be framed in a precise system of international law guaranteed by the United Nations, but also because it fears that the Arab public could confuse the Catholic Church with the West as a whole and that such an identification could lead to the war being interpreted as a "clash of civilisations" or, worse, a conflict between Christianity and Islam - a danger that the Holy See wants to avoid at all cost.
Riding on the Winds of Change: The Future of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership, by Tobias Schumacher
In consideration of the EMP's poor track record, a general revision of the Barcelona Process is highly warranted. Priority areas for action include differentiated cooperation and positive conditionality, co-ownership and co-financing of programmes. The first basket of EMP, which includes security, must be revitalized as it has the potential to facilitate the adoption of common views on security in the Mediterranean area, enhance mutual trust and understanding for the partner's security concerns and, ideally, lead to a common "security language". The EU will have to consider redefining the EMP's geographic scope, transforming it into a more inclusive and flexible Euro-Middle East Partnership (EMEP) and redesigning it into an intergovernmental framework with the EMP at its centre and several bi- and/or multilateral inter-, intra- and sub-regional cooperation clusters around it.
Towards a European Space Policy?, by Simonetta Cheli and Jean-Pierre Darnis
The growth of European space programs and their security dimension calls for a reflection. Different actors, mainly the EU and the European Space Agency, are acquiring a major role in space technologies. This development is determining a "program-driven" space policy logic, with important implications for European security. Analysis of the different trends is required to contribute to the emergence of a European Space Strategy concept.
Book Reviews and Notes
IAI Library Notes , by Maritza Cricorian