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On February 18th 2016, Johannes Voggenhuber, former member of the European Parliament and Wolfgang Wessels, University of Cologne, held a panel discussion on the relationship and different roles of the European Council and the European Parliament. The discussion was chaired by Katrin Auel, Associate Professor at the Institute for Advanced Studies Vienna. An audience of 40 participants first listened to an introductory talk by Professor Wessels in which he focused on the current and potential future role of the European Council within the European Union’s institutional architecture with a special emphasis on the relationship between the Council and the European Parliament.

Proving the viewpoint of the European Parliament, Johannes Voggenhuber then raised concerns about the increase in power of the European Council since the coming into force of the Lisbon Treaty due especially, but not only, to the economic governance reforms undertaken since the outbreak of the eurozone crisis.

The following discussion, which also engaged the members of the audience very actively, focused mainly on the democratic legitimacy of the European Council, on its role in EU decision-making especially with regard to the current eurozone and refugee crises, and on the balance of power between smaller and larger member states within both the Council and the EP. The participants also discussed different proposals aimed at making the European Council more accountable to the EP and raised questions about whether national parliaments can effectively control their members in the Council.

(Katrin Auel)

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