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Institutional Constraints, Parliamentary Adaptation, and Reform Preferences

The previous chapters explained parliamentary adaptation to European integration, and their preferences for a direct European role, on the basis of constitutional preferences and domestic institutions. However, the characteristics of the challenges national parliaments face matter. Whether parties are inclined towards federal or intergovernmental visions of the EU, they examine the reform opportunities and proposals they encounter in light of their preferences and the institutions that they are familiar with from domestic policymaking, and make their reform choices on the basis of this examination. Where federalists and intergovernmentalists agree, no effect is to be expected from aggregate constitutional preferences of parliamentary party compositions tending in one or the other direction. Parties and parliamentarians from countries where parliamentary rights focus on domestic oversight tend to oppose a direct European role, while, however, being more favourable if such a role is easily compatible with their domestic orientation.

One may object that, in the case of the creation of domestic oversight institutions, Chapter 4 showed no clear effect of the characteristics of different treaties on parliamentary adaptation choices. Whether a treaty enhanced the authority of the EU a lot or less dramatically did not consistently affect the likelihood of parliamentary reforms of their EU-related competences. Moreover, national parliaments have relied on one set of oversight institutions across all areas of EU authority, rather than tailoring their instruments to particular domains. The challenge national parliaments face in the form of the ESM is, however, distinct in two ways that require us to consider in more detail how the explanations put forward so far interact with its characteristics. First, revisions of the EU treaties considered in the previous chapters were package deals that changed EU competences and decision-making procedures in a wide range of areas. For instance, every EU treaty since Maastricht has expanded the use of majority voting in the Council of Ministers and given new powers to the EP in at least some salient domains. In each treaty, federally inclined representatives saw progress towards the realization of their priorities, which limited their interest in domestic adaptation, whereas intergovernmen- talists had to accept further deviation from their preferred constitutional design of the Union, enhancing their demands for creating parliamentary authority at the national level. Because EU treaties are packages of reforms, they do not lend themselves well to analyses of how the characteristics of isolated changes in EU competences affect parliamentary adaptation. The case at hand, in contrast, allows us to examine more precisely what properties the ESM has and how these properties will be perceived by domestic parties with federal or intergovernmental inclinations, and that are based in countries with different domestic institutions. In doing so, we can build on the insights from the study of the introduction and abolition of the Dutch parliament's 'approval rights' in justice and home affairs in Chapter 5.

Second, parties have so far created one set of oversight institutions to deal with the whole range of EU competences. However, as we have seen above, they have created tailor-made rights to engage with ESM decision-making. The ESM, unlike the treaty reforms motivating the creation of the EU-related oversight institutions studied in previous chapters, exists outside of the EU treaty framework and its formally defined sets of procedures. Moreover, the budgetary process in many EU member states and their parliaments follows particular rules of conduct that are distinct from the rules of procedure governing legislation and oversight in other areas (Wehner 2006). Some parliaments have, therefore, created distinct rights and procedures in ESM decision-making, which offers us the opportunity here to investigate not only whether constitutional preferences and institutions explain parliamentary reforms, but also how these candidate explanations might apply conditionally on the properties of the ESM.

With these remarks in mind, let us examine the effect of constitutional preferences and domestic institutions on parliamentary adaptation to the ESM, and on preferences regarding the Article-13 conference proposed in the TSCG. In both cases, the challenge to parliamentary rights is of such a nature that it downplays disagreements between federalist and intergovernmentalist parties and parliamentarians, while exacerbating the impact of institutions.

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