Table of Contents

Handbook on Multi-level Governance

Handbook on Multi-level Governance

Elgar original reference

Edited by Henrik Enderlein, Sonja Wälti and Michael Zürn

Scholarship of multi-level governance has developed into one of the most innovative themes of research in political science and public policy. This accessible Handbook presents a thorough review of the wide-ranging literature, encompassing various theoretical and conceptual approaches to multi-level governance and their application to policy-making in domestic, regional and global contexts.

Chapter 15: Multi-level Governance and Parliaments in the European Union

Berthold Rittberger

Subjects: politics and public policy, public policy, regulation and governance


Berthold Rittberger 15.1 INTRODUCTION Twenty years ago, Robert Dahl argued that modern liberal democracies were undergoing a transformation, which will profoundly affect the institutions of ‘traditional’ elective, representative democracy (Dahl 1989, 1994). The thesis that the sheer growth of state interventionism and the internationalization of governance have increased the complexity of policy-making, requiring ever more specialized knowledge (Dahl 1989, pp. 335–8), has – in the meantime – found many followers. The present transformation of democracy will give rise to a system of ‘quasi-guardianship,’ a system of rule dominated by information-privileged experts (see, among others, Vibert 2007). While this scenario may sound overly dramatic, the access to and distribution of policy-relevant information is one of the key issues in scholarly debates about the role and impact of parliaments in the European Union’s (EU) system of multi-level governance. Moravcsik has flagged this issue prominently arguing that international institutions and systems of international negotiations tend to produce a shift in the distribution of power among domestic actors and institutions which is likely to produce a redistribution of control not only over procedural resources (such as the authority to initiate or veto policy proposals) but also over cognitive resources (such as superior technical or politically relevant knowledge). He draws evidence from negotiations at EU intergovernmental conferences to demonstrate that EU member state executives have ‘enhanced their institutional, informational and ideological control over EC policy to a point where they dominate domestic agendas’ (Moravcsik 1994, p. 63) while domestic (parliamentary) opposition is sidelined. As a...

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