RECON Online Working Paper 2011/24

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Parliamentary Control of Military Missions

The†Case of the EU NAVFOR Atalanta†† 


Dirk Peters, Wolfgang Wagner and Cosima Glahn (Peace Research Institute Frankfurt)




The paper examines a key dimension of democratic control, namely parliamentary control of military missions and presents the findings of an in-depth case study on the EUís maritime mission Atalanta that was launched to combat piracy off the coast of Somalia. The case study finds that none of the parliaments we studied was actively involved in the decision-making process before the main decisions whether and in what form to launch an EU-led maritime mission had been made. Moreover, the competences and activities of national parliaments vary widely resulting in a patchwork of parliamentary control at the national level. Whereas some parliaments are very well informed and closely monitor government policy, others are, by and large, left in the dark. Furthermore, although the European Parliament (EP) has had no influence on the initial decision to launch an EU military mission, once Atalanta had begun, it scrutinized the mission through questions, debates, hearings and field trips. In doing so, it benefitted from its access to top militaries and key decision-makers who frequently visited the EP and its committees. Finally, transnational parliamentary assemblies as well as more informal networks provide opportunities to gain information about military missions and about other countries' preferences, concerns etc. Party groups are an important medium for establishing such informal contacts across national boundaries. A closer look reveals, however, that these opportunities are used to very different degrees within different party groups, by different national delegations and by individual MPs.







Common Security and Defence Policy Democracy  EU Military Missions  European Parliament  National Parliaments  Parliamentary Assemblies 


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