Parliamentary scrutiny of the EU’s Common Foreign and Security Policy: a comparison of Estonian Riigikogu and Finnish Eduskunta
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The Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) of the European Union (EU) is considered to be an intergovernmental policy at the European level and a domain of the executive at the national level. Yet, despite the prerogative of the executive, there is still parliamentary scrutiny of CFSP, but it has received little academic attention, although there is a growing debate about the democratic deficit of the policy that the Lisbon Treaty attempted to alleviate. This research offers insight into how national parliaments scrutinise CFSP by comparing the Foreign Affairs Committees of the Estonian Riigikogu and Finnish Eduskunta. Usually both are considered by the scholarly literature strong scrutinisers and both have similar formal powers and mandating-systems of CFSP scrutiny. Yet, similarities in the formal setup notwithstanding, there still seems to be a difference in how the two parliaments engage in CFSP scrutiny with Riigikogu described as a rubber stamp and Eduskunta an active policy shaper. This discrepancy can be explained by the fact that the literature on parliamentary scrutiny of EU affairs has focused mostly on the formal powers that the parliaments have. In contrast this study concentrates not only on the legal rights and capabilities, but emphasises the role of the informal factors that affect the level of scrutiny of CFSP. It argues that as CFSP is a EU policy with less automatic parliamentary scrutiny than other policy fields, informal factors such as attitude and willingness of the parliamentarians to engage in CFSP scrutiny and motivational factors play a more important role. Through expert interviews and the analytical framework developed by Born and Hänggi that takes into account authority, ability and attitude, this research concludes that attitude and the willingness of parliamentarians to engage in CFSP scrutiny explains the difference of the levels of scrutiny of CFSP of Riigikogu and Eduskunta. These findings support the new institutionalist theory of sociological institutionalism that emphasises the role of culture, role perception and institutional identity as determining the level of parliamentary scrutiny.