Security and Defence

Reports and papers

The parliamentary dimension of defence cooperation

04 Apr 2016 - 11:55

The role of parliaments is a neglected factor in the development of European defence cooperation. This is clearly in need of rectification as parliaments have a crucial role in making deeper defence cooperation a success. This Clingendael report reflects the main topics of discussion at the high-level Netherlands EU Presidency Seminar on Defence, held on 14 and 15 March 2016. 

In most of the EU member states, the elected representatives decide about planning, procurement, the deployment of troops and the budget allocated to defence. The 2016 Netherlands EU Presidency therefore devoted a seminar to this issue, organised by the Ministry of Defence in cooperation with the Institute of International Relations ‘Clingendael’. High-level panels and a mixed audience of parliamentarians, national and European officials, members of think tanks, the military and academics discussed ‘The Parliamentary Dimension of Defence Cooperation’.

About the report
The report addresses a number of issues discussed at the seminar. The first section reflects the crucial role that parliamentarians have in bringing politics back into the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP). They are key to creating a political narrative on the importance of defence, defence cooperation and sovereignty understood as ‘the ability to act’.

The second section is devoted to the need to defend defence in parliament and towards the general public. Besides a small circle of dedicated parliamentarians, knowledge about and support for defence are not widespread in the European and national parliaments.

The third section underlines the need for more transparency from governments towards parliaments on defence cooperation.

The report’s final section is devoted to the interparliamentary dimension that needs strengthening and looks into the workings of the Interparliamentary Conference and the parliamentary dimension of cluster cooperation.