RECON Online Working Paper 2008/13

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Media Coverage and National Parliaments in EU Policy-Formulation

Debates on the EU Budget in the Netherlands 1992-2005


Pieter de Wilde (ARENA, University of Oslo)



This paper empirically investigates the relationship between media coverage of EU policy-formulation and the involvement of national parliaments in these processes. The literature has variously argued that the activity of national parliaments in EU policy-formulation is unrelated to media coverage, that media strengthen the hand of backbenchers and opposition, or that media reinforce executive dominance. However, the mechanisms underlying these expectations are not mutually exclusive. Using a mixed methodology research design for a longitudinal case study of debates on the EU budget in the Netherlands between 1992 and 2005, this paper presents evidence for all three conflicting mechanisms, but with clear variations over time. Although institutional arrangements clearly structure parliamentary involvement, its explanatory power decreases as the intensity of debate increases. Limited media coverage reinforces executive dominance whereas extensive media coverage provides a weapon of the weak and supports the involvement of parliaments in general, and opposition parties in particular.



Budget – Media – National Parliaments – Netherlands

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