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Wouter Wolfs and Caterina Cigala

The Treaty of Lisbon has provided new opportunities for national parliaments to become more active in EU affairs and to take up a greater role in European decision-making. At the same time, bicameral systems are increasingly challenged: in many member states the added value of upper chambers is questioned. However, some scholars have described how the involvement in EU affairs can provide upper chambers with a renewed raison d’être. In this chapter, the practice of bicameral parliaments with regard to the scrutiny of EU document is examined. All 13 bicameral systems in the EU are part of the analysis. The central questions are whether the two chambers have a similar approach in scrutinising EU documents and to what extent a cooperation between the two exists. The findings show that involvement in EU affairs provides opportunities for upper chambers to punch above their weight, as the EU’s institutional provisions can impact existing power relations and intra-parliamentary cooperation.

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Wouter Wolfs and Jef Smulders

In this chapter, the role and funding of political parties at the level of the European Union are analyzed. These European political parties are functionally very different from their national counterparts. They are to be considered as proto-parties, in the sense that their main task is to create a network of national parties and politicians. The introduction of EU public funding for the Europarties in 2004 was aimed at their further development: the goal was to provide the Europarties with the necessary financial means to evolve into full-fledged party organizations that are able to contribute to the development of the European public debate and political system. Together with these subsidies, the European legislator also introduced regulations on income and expenditure restrictions and on transparency and control. We find that the establishment of this party finance regime at the level of the European Union had an impact on both the EU party system at large and the organization of the individual Europarties, resulting in an evolution from a proto-party system to a fully developed party system.