One of the priority themes of INTER PARES, the EU’s Global Programme to Strengthen the Capacity of Parliaments, is support to enhanced engagement of citizens and civil society in partner Parliaments. Effective Parliaments operate in constructive collaboration with citizens and civil society to fulfil their core functions of law-making, representation and oversight of government. In both form and function, effective Parliaments strive to be transparent, responsive, and accountable to the citizens they represent and serve.
The 2012 Declaration on Parliamentary Openness recognizes the value of partnerships and to the importance of working with, and not just for, citizens:
“The Declaration is intended not only as a call to action, but also as a basis for dialogue between Parliaments and PMOs to advance government and Parliamentary openness, and to ensure that this openness leads to greater citizen engagement, more responsive representative institutions and, ultimately, a more democratic society.”
Today, those norms and principles have found firm footing. A growing number of Parliaments in Europe and around the world is actively engaging with civil society organisations to better inform, include and involve citizens. Exploring their experiences can provide invaluable insights and guidance for Parliamentary development, enabling Parliaments and PMOs to work together to strengthen representative democracy around the world. The INTER PARES project will foster Parliament-PMO collaboration as part of the partnerships it is establishing between EU Member State Parliaments and partner Parliaments around the world.
This workshop, hosted by the Hellenic Parliament in Athens, Greece, brought together EU Member State Parliaments and PMOs to explore these issues in greater detail. Questions explored include:
- What should citizens know about Parliament, and how should that information be shared?
- What are meaningful indicators of integrity, transparency, and Parliamentary performance, and can Parliaments and PMOs agree together on such indicators and how they can be measured?
- How can Parliaments and PMOs work together in enhancing institutional transparency and citizen awareness and understanding of Parliaments, and what does collaboration look like in practice?
Dialogue and debate around these questions provide a framework for INTER PARES programming and inform EUMSPs and PMOs in peer exchanges with partner Parliaments.
The Parliamentary Monitoring Organisations Workshop was held in conjunction with the first INTER PARES Steering Committee Meeting, hosted by the Hellenic Parliament, on 16 January 2020.
The INTER PARES Parliamentary Primer on Parliamentary Monitoring Organisations: Partners in Parliamentary Strengthening will be published soon.