Report n° 128

A European Parliament keen to strengthen its role on the international stage

Observatoire politique du Parlement européen at the Jacques Delors Institute

Quote the report

Marchais, I. “A European Parliament keen to strengthen its role on the international stage” Report n. 128, Paris: Jacques Delors Institute, February 2024

Even if the situation is changing as societies and the world evolve, foreign policy is everywhere the responsibility of the executive, which is considered to be the only body capable of meeting a certain number of imperatives: preserving secrecy and confidentiality, safeguarding internal cohesion, ensuring rapid decision-making in emergency or crisis situations.

The European Parliament is no exception. As the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) is an intergovernmental matter, its role in the decision- making process is strictly limited by the Treaties, which at worst ignore its contribution in this area, and at best narrowly circumscribe it. The European Parliament nevertheless helps to shape the EU’s external action, asserting its influence through the sectors in which it is co-legislator, some of which have a very strong impact in the rest of the world, but also through various tools and a proactive diplomatic approach that enables it to use real soft power.

Its weight depends essentially on two major factors. Firstly, the powers conferred on it by the Treaty, the scope of which can fluctuate according to the legal basis of the texts presented by the Commission. Secondly, the use of declarations, which can influence the reactions of third countries. As the only directly elected supranational legislature in the world, the European Parliament has its own legitimacy and does not intend to be dictated to by EU diplomats.

It is attracting interest from outside the EU, at the risk of becoming a prime target for foreign interference; the Qatargate scandal is a case in point, and the internal reform movement that has been underway since then must be continued. The future will tell whether and how the European Parliament will succeed in bridging the gap between the still limited powers at its disposal and its desire to exert ever greater influence on the international stage. This will be one of the issues at stake in the European elections in June 2024.