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Reassessing Parliamentary Empowerment over Time: Agency, Structure and Practices on the European Parliament's Institutional Development

Bruno Theodoro Luciano

The institutional development of the European Parliament has been characterised by a gradual complexity of its organisation and its competences within the European decision-making system. The EP began as a consultative chamber to become a co-legislator organisation. This did not happen overnight. It was a process that changed direction at critical junctures. These have enabled the transformation and strengthening of EP vis-à-vis the Council of the European Union and the European Commission. This article argues that agency has played a key role, through some EP's practices - as parliamentary political reports, revision of rules of procedures, resolutions on the intergovernmental conferences - which have supported the empowerment of the parliament in European integration. By linking the impact of agency and structure over time, in both moments of institutional change and institutional stasis, this research intends to develop a theoretical framework to assess the institutional development of the European Parliament. It starts from its creation as the Common Assembly of the European Coal and Steel Community (1952) to the last major institutional changes introduced by the Lisbon Treaty (2009). After presenting each institutional stage of the EP's history, this article provides an overall synthesis of the EP's institutional development and reflects upon how agency and structure through political and parliamentary practices have impacted on the institutional path of the EP over the years, thereby transforming the characteristics of this parliamentary institution within the EU's political system.

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