Connecting parliamentary and executive diplomacy at EU and Member State level

27-09-2019

Parliaments are increasingly active in external policy, engaging in various ways with counterparts from third countries and other stakeholders. The European Parliament is very active in the field, having established complex networks of contacts and relations with other parliaments and international parliamentary assemblies. These are fostered through exchanges of views organised in committee and inter-parliamentary meetings with external partners, and through regular visits to third countries. Other areas of external activity range from electoral observation to conflict mediation in third countries. In order to organise such activities, parliaments rely to a high degree on the support of the executive branch, particularly of the diplomatic service. This support usually covers organisational and logistic matters, and includes regular exchanges of information between the representatives of the two branches of power. This raises interesting questions about the added value of parliamentary diplomacy in relation to traditional state diplomacy, about governments' awareness and recognition of this added value, and about the scope for autonomous parliamentary action. A comparison between the EU level and selected Member States with regard to the executive's support for parliamentary diplomacy reveals that the executive, and particularly diplomatic services, provide a high degree of support. More unequal across countries on the other hand are efforts to coordinate their actions in pursuit of common policy objectives, while preserving their autonomy and distinct roles. Recognition of the added value of parliamentary diplomacy remains crucial in this respect. Parliamentary diplomacy has specific advantages in comparison with executive diplomacy, such as an increased flexibility in establishing contacts with various local stakeholders, as well as communicating with fewer constraints and on more sensitive issues.

Parliaments are increasingly active in external policy, engaging in various ways with counterparts from third countries and other stakeholders. The European Parliament is very active in the field, having established complex networks of contacts and relations with other parliaments and international parliamentary assemblies. These are fostered through exchanges of views organised in committee and inter-parliamentary meetings with external partners, and through regular visits to third countries. Other areas of external activity range from electoral observation to conflict mediation in third countries. In order to organise such activities, parliaments rely to a high degree on the support of the executive branch, particularly of the diplomatic service. This support usually covers organisational and logistic matters, and includes regular exchanges of information between the representatives of the two branches of power. This raises interesting questions about the added value of parliamentary diplomacy in relation to traditional state diplomacy, about governments' awareness and recognition of this added value, and about the scope for autonomous parliamentary action. A comparison between the EU level and selected Member States with regard to the executive's support for parliamentary diplomacy reveals that the executive, and particularly diplomatic services, provide a high degree of support. More unequal across countries on the other hand are efforts to coordinate their actions in pursuit of common policy objectives, while preserving their autonomy and distinct roles. Recognition of the added value of parliamentary diplomacy remains crucial in this respect. Parliamentary diplomacy has specific advantages in comparison with executive diplomacy, such as an increased flexibility in establishing contacts with various local stakeholders, as well as communicating with fewer constraints and on more sensitive issues.