In a new article published by the Journal of Common Market Studies (JCMS), Olivier COSTA (College - POL/CNRS) and Isabelle GUINAUDEAU (CNRS) argue that important insight can be gained by looking at parliamentary questions and their issue profile. Questions offer an institutional opening for issue politicization and for partisan differentiation. Parliamentary groups have incentives to shape EU policies by drawing the attention to their topics of predilection and by controlling ongoing action.
They make use of a new dataset on questions for oral answer (2004–19) to test if this results in European party groups emphasizing differentiated topics in their questions to the Commission and the Council. At odds with the picture of wide consensus expressed in votes, their analyses reveal that groups have contrasted views on political priorities and confirm the truly political nature of deliberation in the EP. Most questions do not deal with constitutive EU issues, but with policy issues. Issue-ownership accounts for some patterns, but they also observe engagement with contentious issues put forward by rivals. This can be linked to the two main functions of questions for oral answer, agenda-setting and control.
These findings open up promising research avenues regarding the logics underlying parliamentary questions in the EP and their consequences. Click here to read the full article.