The European Parliament in Times of Crisis: Supra-national or Inter-national Actor?

Anna-Lena Högenauer

Despite the fact that Members of the European Parliament were traditionally delegated from national parliaments and are even today chosen in elections that are largely determined by national parameters, the work of the European Parliament started to be organised around ideological groups rather than national groups from a very early stage. The determination to endorse European thinking rather than purely national thinking turned the European Parliament into a very supranational institution at an early stage. However, in recent years, the European Union has been shaken by several crises that affect fundamental national interests. This paper takes two of the most fundamental crises - the sovereign debt crisis and the refugee crisis - and analyses whether and to what extent the debates in the EP have been dominated by speeches base on national rather than the European interest. The paper thus seeks to understand to what extent the European Parliament has been able to maintain its supranational character during the crises, and to what extent it has slipped into a more inter-national modus operandi, where MEPs concentrate on national interests.

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