Enhancing cooperation between the European Parliament and EU National Parliaments on EU Human Rights Policy

The Lisbon Treaty has rung in a new era of democratic and human rights governance.
In an attempt to redress concerns about the EU’s alleged democratic deficit and
inability to speak with one voice on cross-cutting issues of human rights, both the
empowered European Parliament (EP) and national parliaments (NPs) are meant to
‘contribute actively to the good functioning of the Union’ through inter-parliamentary
cooperation (IPC). At the same time, the EU’s action is also poised to systematically ‘put
human rights at the heart of all its policies’. Given the role of parliaments as ‘guardians
and promoters of human rights’ at a time when their ability to influence the EU
legislative process has significantly been enhanced, the question arises whether the
EU’s ‘human rights turn’ may act as a catalyst for IPC, and whether this collaboration
may, in turn, strengthen the effectiveness and legitimacy of EU human rights policies.
To that end, this study maps the increasingly complex network of formal and informal
IPC channels in the realm of human rights, assesses their respective strengths and
weaknesses, and formulates recommendations to enhance IPC in this regard.