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Potentials and Pitfalls of Building Parliament Rights on Constitutional Preferences

Introduction

This study set out to explain national parliaments' adaptation to European integration. This concluding chapter, first, summarizes the main argument and, second, evaluates the empirical findings in light of this argument as well as in comparison to the existing literature. The main point is that an explanation based on constitutional preferences not only differs theoretically from alternatives such as those focusing on problems of coalitions and minority governments, but also finds stronger empirical support. The view put forward here is compatible with a number of insights already to be found in the existing literature, but nonetheless goes further, in particular, by bringing together ideological and institutional incentives and constraints for parties' and parliamentarians' reform choices into a coherent argument emphasizing the impact of constitutional preferences.

What are the implications of having learned that EU-related parliamentary rights and competences are built on parties' and parliamentarians' constitutional preferences? The chapter concludes arguing that there are promises as well as potential pitfalls. On the one hand, the findings restore a sense of agency and accountability for political elites in the development of parliamentary rights, while qualifying the idea that the structural constraints of European integration inevitably weaken national parliaments. On the other hand, it remains an open question whether and in what way EU-related institutional reforms will affect the day-to-day behaviour of parliamentarians and parties. Some scholars suggest that incentives such as arising from coalition or electoral politics will then matter more prominently, and serve to dilute the impact of parliamentary rights and capacities in EU affairs. Others are more optimistic. Whether 'reality bites' then is the next important question to ask in the study of national parliaments and European integration.

 
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