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Interparliamentary Cooperation in the EU's External Action (PACO) (completed)

ARENA is one of seven partners of the Jean Monnet Network 'Interparliamentary Cooperation in the EU's External Action – Parliamentary Scrutiny and Diplomacy in the EU and Beyond'.

Plenary session of the European Parliament (photo: EU)

About the project

The Jean Monnet Network ‘Interparliamentary Cooperation in the EU's external action – Parliamentary Scrutiny and Diplomacy in the EU and beyond’ (PACO) brings together three inter-related teaching and research areas: EU external relations, inter-parliamentary cooperation and parliamentary diplomacy.

As the EU has become a progressive actor in international relations with respect to its increased powers in the field of external relations (i.e. trade policies), the Lisbon Treaty has underlined the increasing need for more inter-parliamentary cooperation between the European Parliament and National Parliaments. Hence, the necessity to exchange information between the European Parliament and the National Parliaments regarding EU external action as well as the potential to scrutinize external actions of the EU, has become increasingly prominent.

At the same time, with greater diplomatic activities between the EU and the rest of the world, public diplomacy becomes an ever more important instrument. In this context, the bilateral and multilateral parliamentary diplomacy, between the EP and third countries and regions, bares the potential to become a complementary element of EU external action and diplomacy.


The growing powers of the European Parliament (EP) from the Lisbon Treaty, alongside the obligation for inter-parliamentary cooperation in the EU treaties are important dynamics in the field of EU external relations. These dynamics have often been overlooked by ongoing research and teaching, with the central focus of scholars and practitioners being linked to the new bodies and capacities of the EU in the field (i.e. EEAS, HR/VP).

Focusing on and analysing inter-parliamentary cooperation and parliamentary diplomacy are the objectives of PACO:

  • PACO aims to discover and explain if and why inter-parliamentary cooperation in the field of external relations (i.e. CFSP/CSDP, human rights, development, trade, etc.) has contributed towards increased scrutiny by the EP and national parliaments
  • PACO aims to discover and explain if and why parliamentary diplomacy can add to the diplomatic tool set (i.e. public diplomacy) in the EU’s cooperation with third partners via its own delegations at the bilateral and multilateral levels (i.e. countries, regional blocs like the ACP and the Eastern Partnership or regional organizations like the African Union). 
  • PACO aims to contribute to a new understanding of the role of European parliaments (EP, national parliaments) in EU external action.


  • Leuven Centre for Global Governance Studies, University of Leuven (Prof. Jan Wouters) (coordinator)
  • ARENA, University of Oslo (Prof. John Erik Fossum)
  • Maastricht University (Prof. Thomas Christiansen)
  • Peace Research Institute Frankfurt (Dr. Dirk Peters)
  • Sabanci University (Prof. Meltem Müftuüler-Baç)
  • University of Warwick (Prof. Michael H. Smith)
  • Universiteit Ghent (Prof. Sarah Delputte)

ARENA's role in the project

The ARENA team consists of John Erik Fossum, Christopher Lord and Espen D.H. Olsen. They contribute to the network's research activities though a conceptualisation of inter-parliamentary cooperation and parliamentary diplomacy, as well as empirical analysis of such cooperation and comparative analysis of the EU and other countries and international organisations in this field.


Jean Monnet Network funded by the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union


Project period: 1 September 2014 – 31 August 2017

Published Feb. 12, 2015 9:34 AM - Last modified Oct. 11, 2017 11:14 AM



Prof. Jan Wouters
Leuven Centre for Global Governance Studies
University of Leuven

Paco website