Parliamentary oversight of governments' response to the COVID-19 pandemic: Literature review

Study 25-01-2023

Conducted at the request of the European Parliament's Special Committee on the COVID 19 pandemic, this literature review examines the patterns in, consequences of and correlation between national approaches to parliamentary oversight of governments' responses to the COVID 19 pandemic in the EU27 and four other countries (Canada, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States). The review begins by assessing parliaments' involvement during the early stages of the health crisis, when many countries were operating under emergency regimes or statutory frameworks that provided for rapid action. It then maps the parliaments' law-making and oversight role during the pandemic, demonstrating that they were not necessarily side-lined. The study goes on to assess successes and failures and, on that basis, factors in the resilience of parliamentary oversight. Mapping the widespread use of sunset and review clauses in emergency legislation, the study reflects on parliaments' cooperation with supreme audit institutions and independent fiscal institutions, which enhanced their budgetary oversight role during the pandemic. The literature review also identifies best practice regarding oversight during the COVID 19 pandemic and reforms that parliaments could pursue to strengthen their preparedness for future crises.