The Cocoon of Power: Democratic Implications of Interinstitutional Agreements

16 Pages Posted: 11 Jan 2007


This article assesses Interinstitutional Agreements (IIAs) in terms of democratic theory. It starts from the premise that democratic rules as developed in the national context may be used as a yardstick for supranational governance as well. Thus, parliamentarisation of the Union is defined as an increase in democracy, although relating problems such as weak European party systems, low turnouts, and remoteness are not to be neglected. The article evaluates several case studies on IIAs in this vein and asks whether they strengthen the European Parliament or not, and why. It arrives at conclusions that allow for differentiation: empowerment of the European Parliament occurs in particular when authorisation to conclude an IIA stems from the Treaty or from the power that the European Parliament has in crucial fields such as the budget and is willing to use for this purpose. Success is, however, not guaranteed in every case, and is sometimes more symbolic than real. However, a democratic critique must also stress negative consequences of IIAs in terms of responsivity, accountability, and transparency.

Suggested Citation

Riekmann, Sonja Puntscher, The Cocoon of Power: Democratic Implications of Interinstitutional Agreements. European Law Journal, Vol. 13, No. 1, pp. 4-19, January 2007, Available at SSRN: or

Sonja Puntscher Riekmann (Contact Author)

Austrian Academy of Sciences ( email )

Institute for European Integration Research
A-1010 Wien, Osterreich


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