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Strengthening Parliamentary "War Powers" in Europe: Lessons from 25 National Parliaments

1 January, 2008



Table of Contents

1. Introduction

2. The Relevance of National Parliaments for the Democratic Governance of Military Security Policy
2.1 Executive Prerogative vs. Parliamentary Sovereignty in Military Security Matters
2.2 Parliaments’ Contribution to Democratic Governance and to Peace
2.3 Parliamentary War Powers: Towards a New Typology
2.3.1 Measuring parliamentary power
2.3.2 A new typology of parliamentary war powers
2.3.3 A typology of democracies according to parliamentary war powers

3. Identifying Parliamentary War Powers in EU Countries
3.1 Summary of Parliamentary War Powers in the EU-25
3.2 Unpacking Parliamentary War Powers
3.2.1 Legislative resources
3.2.2 Budgetary resources
3.2.3 Control resources
3.2.4 Communication resources
3.2.5 Dismissal resources

4. Conclusions: “Civilian Power” Europe and Minimum Standards of Parliamentary War Powers


Since the end of the Cold War, international politics have been increasingly shaped by what has been called the “new interventionism”. More often than before, member states of the United Nations (UN) are called upon to participate in military missions and to send their soldiers abroad.

For democratic states the new and ambiguous interventionism brings up thequestion of how decisions on the involvement in military confl icts abroad are madeand legitimated domestically, and whether and how governments’ policies on theuse of military force are checked by democratic procedures.

The objective of this policy paper is to identify good practices regarding the warpowers of national parliaments in Europe as well as practices which need to beimproved, in order to strengthen the democratic legitimacy of national and European security policies. In the concluding part of this paper we present a proposal on national minimum standards for the parliamentary control of military security policy in the EU member states.