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Legislators beyond the Nation State: Changing Roles, Activities, and Patterns of Parliaments in a Globalized World

My ongoing habilitation examines different aspects of the inclusion of legislatures in international politics and international organizations. I am especially interested in the incentives for members of parliament (MP) to engage in international institutions, the new normative role of the legislative dimensions in IOs, and whether international parliamentary diplomacy leads to policy and norm diffusion.

The diagnosis of a democratic deficit in the decision-making of international organizations is one of the most prominent criticisms of global governance expressed by scholars and the public alike. Two main solutions have appeared: first, a better inclusion of citizens and civil society in a direct democratic fashion, or, second, an upgrade of the national representative democratic institutions in international decision-making. In my habilitation project, I focus on the second solutions’ potential by theoretically approaching and empirically tracking the behavior of parliaments and parliamentarians in international politics and organizations.

The first level I approach in the framework of this project is the individual parliamentarian. I argue that International Parliamentary Assemblies (IPAs) as the democratic representative dimension of IOs can only contribute to the legitimacy of global governance if MPs interpret these institutions as a useful means for the fulfillment of parliamentary functions. I therefore analyze incentives and constraints of German MPs to become a member of IPAs. My results suggest that IPAs are chosen by MPs to represent constituencies with a higher exposure to internationalization (like border districts or constituencies with a high share of foreigners). However, in contrast to their prescribed control function, I do not find evidence that opposition parties use these venues to control the government in international negotiations.

On the level of political parties (the second level), I am especially interested in the functioning of the “Early Warning Mechanism” which was introduced as an experiment to enhance democratic legitimacy in the Treaty of Lisbon. For the first time, this procedure endows national parliaments with the right to act as a collective veto player in the context of a supranational organization. Whereas previous research looked at the use of veto activity as a process that is independent between chambers, I have developed a collective action argument based on party similarity: Chambers coordinate their veto activity on the basis of the ruling party family. The results support the hypothesis. These results also contribute to research that investigates the politicization of the EU.

For the third level, that of national parliaments, I have invested a lot of time already in collecting data about the global connectedness of national chambers through parliamentary friendship groups, the main organizational form of parliamentary diplomacy. These groups serve as a direct information channel between chambers and could possibly lead to value transmission and mutual trust. I use this unique information of connectedness for a range of issues: On the one hand I try to explain the global network structure by using different standard explanatory variables like economic interests, shared democratic norms, and cultural similarities. On the other hand, I argue that the direct connectedness and information exchange can explain parliamentary action in international matters, especially voting in UN resolutions, duration of bilateral investment treaties approval, and the allocation of foreign aid.

Publications and Working Papers of the project:

(2017): Networks and Social Influence in European Legislative Politics, British Journal of Political Science, (mit Laurence Brandenberger und Philip Leifeld).

(2018): Why National Parliamentarians Join International Organizations, The Review of International Organizations.

Friends with Benefits. Explaining Global Parliamentary Exchange Patterns.

Explaining Foreign Policy Consensus in the German Bundestag (with D. Leuffen).

Differentiated Integration and EU Decision-Making

The direction, speed, depth, and breadth of further European integration (EI) seem to be more contested than ever. Especially the phenomenon that EU legislation is not applicable in all EU countries - the definition of differentiated integration (DI) – is a contemporary functional answer to the heterogeneous integration preferences of member states. My research interest lies in the combination of integration and decision-making theories to explain these differentiations. I pursue a research project based on previous data collection efforts by the teams of Katharina Holzinger and Frank Schimmelfennig on secondary law differentiation in the EU. So far, research on DI generally assumes that domestic conditions can explain the level of realized differentiation. These factors mainly concern national state capacity, economic interests, and national sovereignty concerns. These studies, however, lack a clear distinction between preferences for obtaining a differentiation from EU and the power to realize it. Do states always want differentiations or is it enforced by other members states (MS) or the Commission that want to proceed? Do states always get a differentiation if they desire one? Are there factors that can explain the variance of these two dimensions? Together with Katharina Holzinger, I try to close this research gap by disentangling these two driving forces for differentiation in Common Agriculture Policy. Furthermore, I am interested in the network behavior of member states in negotiating DIs. My argument here is that heterogeneous actor constellations make it more likely that a group of states gets a DI.

Publications and Working Papers of the project:

2016: Opting out from European Union Legislation: the Differentiation of Secondary Law, Journal of European Public Policy, (with Thomas Duttle, Katharina Holzinger, Thomas Schäubli, Frank Schimmelfennig and Thomas Winzen).

2014: Structure, Capacity, or Power? Explaining Salience in European Decision-Making, Journal of Common Market Studies 52(3), pp. 616-631, (with Dirk Leuffen and Sebastion Wörle).

The politics of Differentiation: An empirical evaluation of realized differentiation in the Common Agriculture Policy( with K. Holzinger).

Collective Action in Differentation: Patterns and Explanations (with K. Holzinger).

Public Opinion Formation and Responsiveness in the Process of European Integration

Based on my dissertation that analyzed the temporal preferences of EU citizens on the speed of European integration, I pursue several follow-up questions that focus on the procedural component of the EU. My general research interest lies in the theory-building and measurement of the dynamic nature of the EU. Starting from the observation that the EU is – compared to stable nation states - still a “polity in the making”, a first step to capture these dynamics is the categorization  of integration events (history-making decisions, secondary law output, enlargement, etc.) to answer the question which ones the public really perceives as the pulse of Ei. In a second step, I investigate the connection between the public’s perceived speed of European Integration and the desired one. Can we observe thermostatic adjustment, meaning that a faster perceived speed leads to a slower desired speed? Are crisis perceived as accelerators or decelerators of Ei and do citizens desire faster integration during crisis or rather an integration stop? Eventually these thoughts lead to and complement my research on DI because in a third step, I investigate whether we can observe a connection between public opinion tending towards less desired speed of Ei and a government’s desire to differentiation.

Publications and Working Papers of the project:

(2017): Better = Faster? Explaining the Desired Speed of European Integration, Journal of European Integration.

Does the Public Feel the Beat? Explaining the Perception and Evaluation of European Integration.

Steady as She Goes? Explaining Public Preferences for Stability of the European Integration Process.

An Effect for a Cause. The Hidden Connection between Social Acceleration and the Desired Speed of Political Change, to be revised and resubmitted.

Fast and Furious?  Countries' temporal preferences regarding the implementation of EU law (with L. Schaffer).