Political Accountability in Europe: Which Way Forward
There seems to be a growing tendency, as prominently shown by the fall of the Santer Commission in 1999 and expressed more recently in the Constitutional Treaty, to construe the relationship between the Commission and the European Parliament as a parliamentary system. In a parliamentary system the government gives account of its action to Parliament and, where appropriate, suffers the consequences, takes the blame, or puts matters right if errors have been made. The government remains in office only as long as it has the confidence of the majority in Parliament and until Parliament votes a motion of censure or the government resigns. This study further develops a European concept of political accountability. The basic assumption of the project is that such a concept must be firmly rooted in the longstanding constitutional traditions of the Member States. From this perspective, it is relevant to try to identify what political accountability precisely means in the various Member States. This proves to be far from evident. The concept of political accountability substantially differs from country to country. For example, political accountability in Italy and France primarily seems to focus on resignation of ministers whereas political accountability in the United Kingdom or the Netherlands aims at the process of giving account. In order to analyze the various approaches and to try to identify common principles, this book brings together 12 distinguished constitutional lawyers and political scientists who have analyzed the concept of political accountability from their national perspectives. The book also includes a final comparative chapter that examines the parallels and the differences between the national systems and explores to what extent common ground can be found in Europe.
Publication Date: 4/15/2008