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Reinforcing the Asymmetry of Parliamentary Influence in EMU Policy-making: The Role of National Parliaments in the ESM and EFSF

Oliver Höing

This paper investigates the varying patterns of influence of national parliaments (NPs) in EMU policy-making. It states that parliamentary influence in the ESM and EFSF is subject to increased variation that promotes the worrying establishment of first and second class parliaments. This asymmetry of parliamentary influence is often neglected in the academic literature. It poses, however, crucial questions of the democratic legitimacy of EMU policy-making. Especially since financial contributions to the new rescue mechanisms partly account for one third of national annual budgets, it is appropriate to treat decision-making processes to dispose of them as an own category of parliamentary influence. This paper has two aims. It will first give a comparative overview over parliamentary influence in the ESM and EFSF. It argues that some parliaments managed to transfer their already strong participation rights in domestic EU affairs to the new rescue mechanisms, while those with weak domestic positions were unable to secure influence in the EFSF or ESM. This path-dependence increases the already asymmetrical position of parliaments in the EU. Secondly, it contrasts the parliamentary influence of two donor (France and Germany) and two debtor countries (Ireland and Portugal) to analyse the day-to-day handling of the EFSF, respectively ESM. Based on interview evidence in these countries, the following questions will be addressed: in how far are formal participation rights actually exercised by parliaments? To what extent can NPs hold their government representatives accountable? And what does this say about the general assessment of the democratic legitimacy of EMU policy-making?

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