Secrecy versus Accountability: Parliamentary Scrutiny of EU Security and Defence Policy
This paper assesses to what extent the Interinstitutional Agreement has strengthened the European Parliament’s ability to hold the Council to account for its foreign policy. The analysis finds that this arrangement introduces an element of checks and balances, however, its effect is limited by certain restrictions and the lack of sanction mechanisms.
In 2002, the European Parliament and the Council concluded the Inter-institutional Agreement, which provided the EP with access to sensitive Council documents in the area of security and defence policy that the Council decided to withhold from the public. The agreement established an arrangement whereby a special committee, composed of five Members of the EP is allowed to peruse documents, but not share any of the information they gain access to.
This paper assesses this arrangement from an accountability perspective. To what extent has the Interinstitutional Agreement strengthened the EP’s ability to hold the Council to account for its foreign policy? The analysis shows that the Council’s obligation to inform the EP has clearly improved, and the arrangement also gives the EP an opportunity to interrogate the activities of the Council in the field of security and defence. Thus, the arrangement introduces an element of checks and balances to EU security and defence policy. However, its effect is limited by the restriction on how the members of the special committee are allowed to use the information they acquire and the fact that the EP has few if any means to sanction the Council.