Legal Accountability to a Political Forum? The European Commission, the Dutch Parliament and the Early Warning System for the Principle of Subsidiarity
49 Pages Posted: 30 Jun 2009
Date Written: June 16, 2009
This paper examines whether the Dutch parliament is adapting its behaviour in enforcing democratic accountability by using accountability enforcement techniques that are usually associated with courts. The Dutch parliament’s dialogue with the European Commission to check compliance with the principle of subsidiarity in European legislative proposals is analyzed as an empirical case study. The paper qualifies the subsidiarity procedure primarily as an instance of an accountability relationship vis-à-vis the Commission, rather than as co-legislation. It defines "legal" and "political" accountability based on whether the criteria that an institution uses to hold actors to account refer to lawfulness (legal accountability) or desirability (political accountability). In the light of the Dutch experience, legal accountability as associated with courts can also take place in a political forum like parliament. The paper has been written as part of a larger research project designed to assess whether parliaments as traditional accountability forums can and do use alternative accountability mechanisms, i.e. mechanisms typically found outside parliament.
Keywords: National parliaments, European Union, Accountability, Subsidiarity, Early Warning System
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