Parliamentary Deliberation in Inter-Regional Relations: an Analysis of Climate Change Debates in the EU’s Parliamentary Assemblies with the ACP, the Mediterranean, Latin America and the Eastern Neighbourhood Regions (PADIRE).

The 2015 Paris Agreement, adopted at the 21st Conference of the Parties of the UNFCCC, and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted at the UN Sustainable Development Summit, constitute major landmarks for the global combat against climate change. One year later, the 2016 Marrakech Climate Change Conference aimed at maintaining momentum for international climate action. Negotiations to concretize the Paris Agreement have been slow and difficult, not only because of the US presidential elections but also because of widely diverging views regarding the future of international climate finance and the Adaptation Fund for developing countries. In different regions, the legitimacy of the climate deal has been fundamentally opposed. 

This project focuses on climate change debates in the EU’s interregional network. Specifically, it analyzes how inter-regional parliamentary deliberation might contribute to addressing the above-mentioned legitimacy concerns. Inter-regionalism takes a strong position in the EU’s external policy, especially in its relations with Africa, Latin-America and its Eastern and Mediterranean Neighbourhood. As the EU is a major actor in the combat against climate change, it comes as no surprise that climate change figures strongly in the EU’s inter-regional relations. Examples include ACP-EU alliance-building to ensure successful implementation of the targets agreed at the COP21 meeting, the Mediterranean Climate Change Expert Group for joint efforts to address climate change, the EU’s and the Eastern Partner Countries’ Ministerial Declaration on their joint commitment to stepping up cooperation on environmental challenges and climate change, and the EUROCLIMA program to foster cooperation between Latin America and the EU on climate change issues. Although inter-regionalism is considered a major instrument for exporting the EU’s norms, there is a wide variety in the EU’s inter-regional relations in terms of type, cooperation, scope, rationale, and relations with bilateral/multilateral frameworks. This has also been referred to as ‘complex inter-regionalism’. Moreover, the EU’s approach to regionalism has also suffered from democratic deficits, as has been shown dramatically by the Brexit debates.

The parliamentarization of the EU’s inter-regionalism, referring to the growth of interregional parliamentary assemblies, has the potential to improve the legitimacy of inter-governmental agreements between the EU and various regions. However, these institutions have also been challenged in terms of their purpose and rationale. This research project aims to contribute to these debates on the function and rationale of EU parliamentary diplomacy and inter-parliamentary cooperation by analyzing parliamentary deliberation on climate change in the EU’s inter-regional relations with four different regions. It focuses specifically on the deliberative function, basically involving the promotion of dialogue and mutual understanding. The four inter-regional assemblies that will be studied are (1) the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly (ACPEU JPA), (2) the Parliamentary Assembly of the Union for Mediterranean (PA-UFM), (3) the Euro-Latin American Parliamentary Assembly (EUROLAT), and (4) the EU-Neighbourhood East Parliamentary Assembly (EURONEST). These vary across different indicators (climate resilience, power asymmetry, and institutional set-up).

The project is co-supervised by UNU-CRIS Associate Project Leaders Dr. Sarah Delputte (Ghent University, Centre for EU Studies) and Prof. Dr. Sebastian Oberthür (Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Institute for European Studies).

For more information about the project, please contact Reinhilde Bouckaert.