The European Parliament in the new Europe: What to expect from the Brexit negotiations?

On May 26, King’s hosted a workshop on The European Parliament in the new Europe: Institutional Power and Policy Influence. Below are some reflections on the theme by Edoardo Bressanelli and Margherita de Candia.

Since 2009, the institutional development of the European Union (EU) has been marked by fundamental tensions. A key one concerns the European Parliament (EP). On the one hand, the Treaty of Lisbon re-branded co-decision as the ordinary legislative procedure, extended the legislative powers of the EU’s only directly elected institution to new policy areas, strengthened its role in the budgetary procedure and, as everyone soon discovered, withdrawal treaties.

On the other hand, the different crises that hit the EU in the same period – the economic and financial crisis, the migration crisis, and eventually Brexit – have, in the eyes of several observers, made the EU more intergovernmental. The activism of the European Council, the stipulation of international treaties outside the EU framework, and the contestation of the EU by the national publics have arguably led to the consolidation of a “new intergovernmental Union”.

With both thPicture 1e implementation of the Treaty of Lisbon and the different Eurocrises unfolding in parallel, the discussion on the institutional reform of the EU has been exceptionally lively. Within the context of this debate, however, the EP has seldom taken centre stage.

To address this gap in the academic literature, and shed light on this institutional tension, the Department of European & International Studies has organised the workshop “The European Parliament in the new Europe: Institutional power and policy influence?”. The event was financially supported by UACES and by a Network Grant of the Faculty of Social Science and Public Policy at KCL.

Its key objective was to comprehensively assess the EP’s role in EU decision-making post-Lisbon. Under what conditions is the EP more influential in policy-making? Does the EP use specific strategies to make its voice heard? Have the crises constrained the use of its new powers? To answer these questions, early-career researchers, more established scholars and EP practitioners gathered together in this one-day event at King’s College London.

Formally, the EP is entitled to legislate on equal footing with the Council in most policy areas under the ordinary legislative procedure. Yet, during the crisis, emergency measures have often been adopted outside its framework. Additionally, when the stakes for the member states were high, or when (national) money was discussed, notwithstanding the EP’s co-decision powers its influence was limited. In such cases, the only red lines that really mattered were established by the member states, and followed by the EP.

Looking at the variation in the influence of the EP across policy areas, the workshop echoed the findings of recent research, which indicates that the member states have kept a strong grip on ‘core state powers’. For instance, member states were successful in establishing a ‘policy core’ in migration policies, while the activism of the European Council set tight constraints in the reform of economic governance.

NotwithstaPicture 2nding the important role of the member states, the EP was able to partly compensate for its relative lack of substantive influence with procedural gains and institutional rewards: for example, its enhanced powers of scrutiny towards the other EU institutions under the Economic Dialogue.

All this is relevant to the Brexit negotiations. The Lisbon Treaty has equipped the EP with a de facto veto power on the withdrawal agreement. Yet, the credibility of the EP’s threat to use it can be disputed. The EP has become a more responsible and mature player in inter-institutional negotiations. A more pragmatic and constructive attitude has generally replaced the radical position that the EP used to have when it was merely a ‘talking shop’.

The EP will hardly remain silent during the negotiations, demanding its full institutional involvement. It will also make use of every tools at its disposal to make its voice heard, and signal its position through resolutions and public declarations of its leaders.

However, in the case of the EP, power has come with responsibility. In both law-making and beyond, the EP constructively engages with the other institutions, and rarely embraces more extreme, ideological position to the very end of the negotiations. From what we know on Europe’s Parliament, and from what this workshop has shown, it seems reasonable to expect that the EP will take every opportunity to show its teeth, but it will not eventually bite on the Brexit agreement.


Edoardo Bressanelli in a Lecturer in European Politics in the Department of European and International Studies. Margherita de Candia is a PhD researcher in European Studies in the same Department.

Cracks in the Ceiling? Contradictions of Ordoliberal Hegemony in the EU – Part I

Johan Ekman is a BA (Hons) student in European Politics with EIS Copyright: private

Johan Ekman is a BA (Hons) student in European Politics with EIS Copyright: private

An essay by Johan Ekman (@jgekman), BA (Hons) student in European Politics. Part II will be published next week.

The crisis of the southern Eurozone periphery – in itself an offspring of the great crisis of 2007-2008 – has highlighted German-led ordoliberalism as the dominant theory behind European integration after the adoption of the Single European Act (SEA) and the Maastricht Treaty. This piece suggests that the contradiction between the social effects of the implementation of the strict rules of economic governance in the southern Eurozone periphery and the ideals of solidarity as expressed in the EU treaties has put German-led ordoliberal hegemony under severe strain in the EU as discontent has increased.

First, I will roughly outline how the integration project has developed, from the post WWII Keynesian welfare state centric model of Western Europe towards neoliberal hegemony in the Neo-Gramscian sense, underpinned by German-led ordoliberal theory. I will then illustrate how the development of a freer market has taken place without – and often to the detriment of – a progressive agenda aiming to strengthen social rights as an essential part of the integration project. Finally, the effects of the crisis pose the question whether access to social rights is compatible with the European integration project in its current format. To adequately address that question, there is, following Magnus Ryner, a need to look beyond a “positivist evolutionary” approach to European integration that takes the rationality of economic, political and social integration for granted.[1]

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New staff members

This academic year, several new members of staff have joined the Department. This is who they are.

Baines 2016 09 19 - Photo

Joseph Baines


Joseph Baines is a lecturer in International Political Economy:

“It has been a long journey to get to the position of lecturer in IPE here at King’s College London. My interest in the subject was sparked when I studied politics and IR as an undergraduate at the University of Warwick. I pursued my fascination with the study of contemporary capitalism, first through doing an MA in global political economy at the University of Sussex, and then through undertaking a PhD at York University in Toronto.

It was during my doctoral studies that I developed a commitment to doing research that is both unerring in its empirical rigor and unwavering in its critical orientation. My areas of specialism include agri-food studies, global value chain analysis, and the political economy of energy. As well as contributing to the core course for the International Political Economy MA, I will be leading the Masters courses in Global Economic Governance and the International Political Economy of Oil and Gas.”

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Welcome to the blog of the Department of European and International Studies at King’s College London. On this site, you will be able to follow our academics, undergraduate and postgraduate students and to share their views on current events.

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The Department of European and International Studies at King’s College London launched in September 2011. It builds on the achievements of European Studies, which since 1992 has earned an internationally-renowned reputation as a dynamic and challenging programme for those who want to deepen their knowledge and understanding of modern Europe.