European Parliament, Directorate-General for External Policies of the Union, Directorate B Policy Department
The Lisbon Treaty has rung in a new era of democratic and human rights governance. In an attempt to redress concerns about the EU’s alleged democratic deficit and inability to speak with one voice on cross-cutting issues of human rights, both the empowered European Parliament (EP) and national parliaments (NPs) are meant to ‘contribute actively to the good functioning of the Union’ through inter-parliamentary cooperation (IPC). At the same time, the EU’s action is also poised to systematically ‘put human rights at the heart of all its policies’. Given the role of parliaments as ‘guardians and promoters of human rights’ at a time when their ability to influence the EU legislative process has significantly been enhanced, the question arises whether the EU’s ‘human rights turn’ may act as a catalyst for IPC, and whether this collaboration may, in turn, strengthen the effectiveness and legitimacy of EU human rights policies. To that end, this study maps the increasingly complex network of formal and informal IPC channels in the realm of human rights, assesses their respective strengths and weaknesses, and formulates recommendations to enhance IPC in this regard.
Study for the European Parliament, Sub-Committee on Human Rights, EXPO/B/DROI/2013/20