‘No more waiting?’ The ‘European Semester’ as a time for bringing Europe back to parliamentary debating: An analysis of the Italian case (2011-2014)

WP-LPF 9/14

WP-LPF 2014
Centro Einaudi
Articolo completo/Full text


Regardless of the specific constitutional prerogatives of each Members State, the dominant conventional doctrine is clear: parliaments appear as the highest representative bodies of their polities, the core institutions for legitimizing political power. Yet, they still seem to be the most displaced bodies vis-à-vis the European Union (EU) integration process, to the point that most of the literature has labeled this state of affairs 'de-parliamentarization'. In the face of this situation, other scholars have ultimately managed to distinguish 'fighting back responses' on behalf of the national parliaments (NPs)—pointing out the existence of a process of 're-parliamentarization', especially prompted by the increasing politicization of the European issue. Starting from this theoretical backdrop, the concrete functioning of the parliamentary arena 'in times of crisis' would be observed. The crisis in fact has deeply affected the way in which those assemblies tend to manage EU affairs and, more generally, exercise their traditional functions. Going beyond mere normative considerations, institutional practices leading to reasonable policy choices would be sought, also trying to shed light on how different styles of parliamentary debating may lead to different decision-making patterns. In particular, plenary debates on planning documents (the 'Economic and Financial Document', 2011-2014) discussed within the framework of the so-called 'European Semester' would be analyzed, as they seem to provide a good sample for the frequently assumed 'salience' of the European issue—as well as for assessing the way parliamentarians actually confront and work out 'Europe', thus exercising the so-called 'communicative function'. The contribution is focused on Italy, conceived as a 'typical study case'. Data are empirically gained from a computer-assisted qualitative content analysis.