Samir El Khanza
GEM-DIAMOND doctoral fellow
ESR 10 – Socio-economic contestation turned into democratic conflicts? EU comprehensive trade agreements in front of parliaments: the CETA CASE
Samir is a Marie Skłodowska Curie Fellow at Luiss, Laval University and ULB. Passionate about the EU decision-making process and international trade agreements, his research will focus on how contestation can affect the EU’s ability to conclude comprehensive trade agreements.
Influencing the European trade policy-making process?
National parliaments’ role in the ratification, entry into force and implementation of the EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA)
- Cristina Fasone
- Richard Ouellet
- Nathalie Brack
2. National parliaments have significant influence in the EU trade policy legislation process due the European democratic deficit and the parliamentary contestation.
3. National parliaments can affect the EU’s ability to conclude trade agreements due to their differences in the understanding of liberal democracy.
Personal Research Bibliography (So Far)
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Bollen, Y., Gheyle, N. and De Ville, F., 2016. From nada to Namur: national parliaments' involvement in trade politics, the case of Belgium. In State of the Federation.
Bouwen, P., 2002. Corporate lobbying in the European Union: the logic of access. Journal of European public policy, 9(3), p.368.
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Dirk De Bièvre (2018) The Paradox of Weakness in European Trade Policy: Contestation and Resilience in CETA and TTIP
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Fasone, C. and Romaniello, M., 2021. A Temporary Recalibration of Executive–Legislative Relations on EU Trade Agreements? The Case of National and Regional Parliaments on CETA and TTIP. p.183.
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Katrin Auel & Thomas Christiansen (2015) After Lisbon: National Parliaments in the European Union, West European Politics, 38:2, 261-281, DOI: 10.1080/01402382.2014.990693
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Personal Methods-Specific Bibliography (So Far)
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Krippendorff, K., 1980. Validity in content analysis.
Linos, K., 2015. How to Select and Develop International Law Case Studies: Lessons from Comparative Law and Comparative Politics. American Journal of International Law, 109(3), pp.475-485.
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Longhurst, R., 2003. Semi-structured interviews and focus groups. Key methods in geography, 3(2), pp.143-156. p.103.
Melbourne: Oxford University Press, pp. 79–105.
Randour, F., 2021. Studying the influence of national parliaments in EU affairs: reconnecting empirical research and the Principal-Agent approach. Political Research Exchange, 3(1), p.1989314.¨
Salehijam, M., 2018. The value of systematic content analysis in legal research. Tilburg Law Review, 23(1-2), pp.34-42.
Van Gruisen, P., Vangerven, P. and Crombez, C., 2019. Voting behavior in the Council of the European Union: The effect of the trio presidency. Political Science Research and Methods, 7(3), pp.489-504.
Selected Case Studies
Key Findings (So Far)
“How and to what extent do national parliaments influence the European Union’s ability to conclude trade agreements?”
The key findings so far, allowed me to identify the three main hypothesis that will help answer to the research question.The first one is related to the the legal framework that allows the national parliaments of the EU’s MS to influence the EU’s ability to conclude comprehensive trade agreements. This is important because, as we can see in the literature in this matter, “the “direct” parliamentary oversight of national parliaments over bilateral mixed agreements triggers important legal questions and dilemmas” . For this analysis we decided to focus on four MS: Belgium, Ireland, Italy, and Germany. This choice appears to be to most coherent due to the differences in the national constitutional law as well in their political systems. First, we will focus on the EU primary and secondary law that allows national parliaments to act the European level, secondly, we will analyse if specificities in the national law of the four MS also enable them to be part of the European policy-making process and specifically in the European Trade-policy making. Studying the legal basis of this interaction will also help us understand how the national parliaments’ positions towards trade-agreements are defined and how this effect the EU’s ability to conclude trade agreements. It is clear, that this have already been analysed in the existing literature. For instance, Fasone and Romaniello explain that “national parliaments can be involved in EU trade agreements in two complementary ways: either ex ante before the Treaty is signed by scrutinising and trying to influence the action of their own government at the EU level, particularly in the Council, taking into account that all Member States – except Cyprus – provide for the confidence relationship between either or both chambers of parliament and the prime minister or government; or ex post once the Treaty has been signed and the ratification, which is pending, must be authorised by NPs” . Nevertheless, they also note that the degree of their involvement depends on EU law and on their domestic constitutional and institutional arrangements. Our analysis will concentrate on both levels, not only by comparing the prementioned four MS’ national requirements to act in the EU Trade Policy but also by analysing the EU law that permits them to cooperate at the EU level. Thus, our first hypothesis that we will test in our analysis is:
H1: National parliaments have access to the EU trade policy-making process through the European law and National law.
Our second hypothesis, however, is connected to the notions of democratic deficit and parliamentary contestation and how these two factors help national parliaments to participate actively in the EU trade policy-making process. The notion of democratic deficit has been defined by Campbell as the phenomena where “democratic institutions or organizations do not meet what are considered to be the standards of democracy”. As revealed by Jansen “independent of the ideal democratic model chosen, though, there is a consensus that the EU is a less than an ideal polity in democratic terms” . Nevertheless, he also explains that this literature is quite remarkable for its heterogeneity . Additionally, most authors confirms that a democratic deficit has been present for a long time in the European Union, and that « a shift of power from the parliaments representing the “sovereigns” to the executive has been the consequence of integration in Europe so far » . Consequently, “the role of national parliaments in EU matters has become an important subject in the debate over the democratic legitimacy of European Union decision-making” . The main reason for this debate is, as explained by Karlas, that the participation of the national parliaments in the EU affairs increase the legitimacy of the EU. Therefore, the second part of our analysis will start with an assessment of the EU’s democratic deficit and how national parliaments limit it by acting at the EU level, specifically in the EU Trade-policy making process. An important part of this analysis will be allocated to the role of parliamentary contestation and how this modifies the level of influence of national parliaments on the Trade-policy making process, and of course specifically in mixed trade agreements’ ratification process and especially in the CETA case. “Contestation” in legal terms can be defined as “the act by which two parties to an action claim the same right, or when one claims a right to a thing which the other denies”. Including this section in our analysis is important since it will allow us to understand how dissensus can affect the ability to conduct and conclude Trade-Agreements. We argue that this approach is also relevant, since recent literature indicates that national parliaments are crucial as arenas for the debates over EU issues and their national consequences (de Wilde, 2011; Auel and Raunio, 2014). Indeed, many authors argues that by debating EU affairs in the “national arenas” MS legitimise national politics in EU affairs and increase the EU democratic legitimacy (Follesdal and Hix, 2006). Thus, the second hypothesis that we will test in our analysis is:
H2: National parliaments have significant influence in the EU trade policy legislation process due the European democratic deficit and the parliamentary contestation.
Our third and final hypothesis is focused on how the differences in the understanding of liberal democracy between actors involved in the EU trade-policy making process affects the EU’s ability to conclude trade agreements. If liberal democracy is “generally understood to be a system of government in which people consent to their rulers, and rulers, in turn, are constitutionally constrained to respect individual rights” , in the political science literature, it is defined as a “political system in which (a) the whole people positively or negatively, make, and are entitled to make the basic determining decisions on important matters of public policy; and (b) they make, and are only entitled to make, such decisions in a restricted sphere since the legitimate sphere of public authority is limited” . Analysing the differences in the understanding of liberal democracy is it also important since even if liberal democracies have a common origin, today there are different existing types of liberal democracy . This is specifically explained by Lijphart, who identifies “two dimensions on which regimes may be majoritarian or consensual, and this yields four categories of liberal democratic state; one dimension consists of what can be described as socio-political factors whilst the other dimension consists of constitutional factors and the other”. The first dimension differentiates “(a) whether cabinets are minimal winning ones, (b) executive dominance, (c) the effective number of parties in the polity, (d) the number of issue dimensions, and (e) electoral disproportionality” while the second differentiates between (i) unicameralism, (ii) centralization - measured in terms of the central government’s share of tax receipts and (iii) constitutional flexibility”. Thanks to these dimensions, he yields four possible types of liberal democratic regimes: (1) majoritarian: these are the pure majoritarian states, majoritarian on both dimensions (such as Ireland); (2) majoritarian-federal: these are majoritarian on the first dimension but consensual on the second one (such as Canada and Germany); (3) consensual-unitary: these are consensual with respect to the first dimension but majoritarian with respect to the second one (such as Denmark); and finally (4) consensual: these are the pure consensual cases, consensual on both dimensions (such as Italy and Belgium). In this section of analysis, we argue that the differences in type of regimes or most specifically differences in the understanding of liberal democracy can lead to different positions by the EU’s MS towards the EU Trade-policy making process and therefore affect the EU’s ability to conclude trade agreements. In this section we will concentrate on the actors involved, specifically the EU, Canada and the four prementioned MS, Belgium, Ireland, Italy and Germany. Thus, the third and final hypothesis that we will test in our analysis is:
H3: National parliaments can affect the EU’s ability to conclude trade agreements due to their differences in the understanding of liberal democracy.
Social Relevance of your Research
Samir holds an MA in European Studies with specialised track in European politics from the Institute of European Studies of the ULB and BA in Political Sciences from the ULB. Before starting the PhD, he worked as financial product developer in Luxembourg.
The 2nd Interdisciplinary Methods Workshop hosted in Copenhagen
27 June 2023
The GEM Fellows have reunited in Copenhagen to attend an Interdisciplinary Methods Workshop, organised by the iCourts at the Faculty of Law in Copenhagen.
Birth of the GEM-DIAMOND Fellowship of the Ph.D.
1 October 2022
16 MSCA Fellows successfully selected following a gruelling selection process.