After three years promoting research and teaching on interparliamentary cooperation and parliamentary diplomacy in EU external relations, the PACO Jean Monnet Network held its final conference in Brussels in August 2017. Bringing together scholars, high-level practitioners, and students, the event was an occasion to take stock on some of the key questions that have been guiding PACO’s activities: can the involvement of parliaments in EU external relations and EU inter-parliamentary cooperation be regarded as tools to enhance the legitimacy of EU external action? Can parliamentary diplomacy be classified as a complementary instrument of EU external action and diplomacy? To what extent do such parliamentary practices contribute to the EU’s overall effectiveness in external relations?
These have also been the questions addressed in the MARBLE and Honours project “Opening the closed doors of diplomacy?” offered by FASoS as a core activity of the PACO network. The course has allowed three cohorts of students to develop their own research while taking part in the events and deliverables of the network. First, students contributed to the construction of an interactive Virtual Inter-Parliamentary Cooperation Map (VIPCO) by preparing some 30 fact-sheets on different inter-parliamentary bodies. Second, they were invited to take part in the PACO outreach events, which allowed them to interact directly with scholars and practitioners. For example, during 2016-2017, besides the final conference, students could also participate in the PACO workshop on “Parliaments in European Security Governance” organized in Leuven in March 2017. Finally, over the past years, some excellent student papers have been published as Working Papers and one Marble student was invited to present his paper at the highly competitive Dutch-Flemish Student Research Conference 2016.
This course ties in with the research conducted in the Politics and Culture in Europe research programme.