Public Accountability in the European Union: Is the European Parliament able to hold the European Council accountable?

Marianne van de Steeg


The European Council occupies a central role in European politics. Yet it is not officially accountable to any public or parliamentary body for the decisions it makes on behalf of European citizens. National parliaments are only entitled to exert control over their own Heads of Government or State. The European Parliament, as a supranational institution, is the only parliamentary body that regularly discusses European politics with the European Council as a collective, namely via the European Council Presidency. As such, it alone has the possibility to hold the Council accountable for the agreements made at European Summits. However, the European Parliament has limited rights to impose pressure on the European Council Presidency. Nonetheless, despite the lack of a formal accountability arrangement, the European Council Presidency is more forthcoming than could have been expected.


accountability; Amsterdam Treaty; BSE crisis; Constitution for Europe; democracy; European Council; European Parliament; Maastricht Treaty

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