Toward a Model of Parliamentary Diplomacy in the European Parliament

Alexandra Athanasopoulou Köpping

The concept of parliamentary diplomacy rose in the mid-2000s in part due to developments observed within the European Parliament. Since then, the literature on the influence of the EP in the EU's foreign policy has multiplied. However, the concept lacks empirical grounding. Moreover, the existing literature focuses on institutional novelties after the consecutive treaty changes. Using the methodological approach of Critical Grounded Theory and relying on multi-archival research, this paper seeks to propose a model for parliamentary diplomacy in the European Parliament. It aims at producing a model that is independent from institutional changes at the EU level and which relies only on the EP's activities. Two cases have been chosen to demonstrate the pertinence of the concept and the importance of the European Parliament in the EU's foreign policy set up. Using the EP-USSR rapprochement in 1985 and the EP-Iran relations in 2003, the paper argues that the EP is very efficient at becoming a mediator with sensitive countries and therefore holds a special place in the EU's diplomatic set up. Despite occurring almost 20 years apart the two cases maintain striking similarities and highlight how the EP manages to establish diplomatic relations with difficult and opaque regimes. The EP has become a global actor.

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