The European parliament and development cooperation: democratic legitimacy of the 'low politics' of EU external relations

Paul James Cardwell, Davor Jančić

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The European Parliament enjoys an array of powers in development cooperation, ranging from legislative and budgetary powers to scrutiny and democratic oversight. However, its role has largely been overlooked and generally been absent from the key debates in the EU foreign policy literature. Partly this stems from the ‘low politics’ nature of development cooperation, when set against the ‘high politics’ of EU external relations as typified by CFSP/CSDP and trade. This article combines a legal analysis of the EP’s post-Lisbon powers in EU development cooperation with an examination of the Multiannual Financial Framework, European Consensus on Development and interinstitutional interactions to assess how the EP has succeeded in gaining a more significant role in this policy field. The article argues that the ‘low politics’ of EU development cooperation is highly susceptible to the EP’s institutional assertion and empowerment in overall EU external relations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)365-381
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of European Integration
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 16 May 2019


  • European parliament
  • low politics
  • EU member states
  • development cooperation

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