An Essential Companion
Edited by Kolja Raube, Meltem Müftüler-Baç and Jan Wouters
Chapter 7: Emerging interregional parliamentarism: the case of the Baltic Assembly
The Baltic Assembly (BA) is an international parliamentary institution (IPI) on the European Union’s geographic periphery. It originated as the Baltic Parliamentary Group, an international parliamentary-societal institution (IPSI) founded in 1989, while the Baltic States were still republics of the Soviet Union. The chapter treats the BA’s parliamentary cooperation and diplomacy as a subregional IPI in the field of external relations. It thus produces a new understanding of the role of a relatively new type of parliament Europe, in a context of multi-level governance, in EU external action. The BA cooperates with the Nordic Council (NC) in the context of the ‘Nordic-Baltic Eight’ (NB8) framework, as well as with interparliamentary forums of the Visegrád group, the Benelux group and the GUAM group. Such cooperation helped to overcome obstacles that had earlier blocked the BA’s organizational development. The explanation of how the BA could reinvigorate its organizational development since 2008 also produces a new conceptual understanding of IPI institutionalization. Distinctions between IPIs and IPSIs, and also other hybrid IPI types, are set out in the context of differentiating between IPI studies and studies of parliamentary diplomacy (PD). The significance of the BA’s particular evolutionary path for the sociological theory of the development of international communities is explained. Implications of subregional IPIs for the multi-level architecture of EU governance are discussed. Lessons are drawn from the analysis for future studies of parliamentary cooperation in the field of external relations, and of the role of parliaments in Europe on different levels in EU external action.
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