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Sub-national Parliaments in a Multi-Level Parliamentary System: Reform Processes in the German Länder in the Post-Lisbon Era

Gabriele Abels

The Lisbon Treaty endowed parliaments with new rights as part of an overall endeavor to democratize the EU. While most research focuses on the stronger role of the European Parliament and also of national parliaments, the role of subnational parliaments in an evolving multi-level parliamentary field is so far widely neglected despite the fact that the Lisbon Treaty's subsidiarity protocol takes the vertical division of competences in the member states into account and it recognizes a specific role of sub-national parliaments for the first time. Thus, most current research restricts itself to a two-level perspective and does not fully address the multi-level nature of the ongoing (re-)parliamentarization process.The newly granted rights are of particular importance for those subnational parliaments in federal states which are entrusted with legislative competences, above all in Germany. Responding to the long-lasting overall trend of deparliamentarization and to the opportunity structure provided by the Lisbon Treaty and the Lisbon ruling of the German Federal Constitutional Court, there are currently reforms underway in all German Lauml;nder. The proposed paper addresses the following questions: What are the parliamentary functions sub-national parliaments, i.e. the German Landtage fulfill in EU affairs? How do they respond to the opportunities in the post-Lisbon era? What implications do the observable changes in parliamentary functions at subnational level have for the conceptualization of a multi-level parliamentary field? Finally, what lessons can be drawn for subnational parliaments in general?

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