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Tesi etd-11042021-190405

Type of thesis
Corsi integrativi di II livello
Author
MARINI, SOFIA
URN
etd-11042021-190405
Title
The Rule of Law Debate in the European Union: MEPs’ positions on democratic backsliding
Structure
Cl. Sc. Sociali - Scienze Politiche
Course
SCIENZE POLITICHE - SCIENZE POLITICHE
Committee
Tutor Prof.ssa CRISTIANI, ELOISA
Relatore Dott. BRESSANELLI, Edoardo
Presidente Prof.ssa HENRY, BARBARA
Membro Dott. RAINERI, LUCA
Membro Prof.ssa LORETONI, ANNA
Membro Dott. Sommario, Emanuele
Membro Prof. NATALI, DAVID
Membro Dott. PIRNI, ALBERTO EUGENIO ERMENEGILDO
Membro Prof. DE GUTTRY, ANDREAS M.T.
Keywords
  • democratic backsliding
  • European Parliament
  • European Union
  • rule of law
Exam session start date
03/12/2021;
Availability
completa
Abstract
This work aims at analysing the so-called “rule of law debate” in one of the most politicised arenas at the European level, namely the European Parliament (EP). The core of the research will be devoted to the (potentially contradictory) positions taken in such debate by the Members of the European Parliament (MEPs). The erosion of democratic standards in several member states is a crucial problem for the European Union due to the difficulty of sanctioning its own member states after their accession, despite the variety of existing EU instruments. In the complex, multi-layered decision-making process of the Union, I argue, observing the positions of MEPs is crucial to explain institutional behaviour in the light of allegiances and strategic incentives.<br>I therefore aim at retracing the stances of the MEPs in the discussions concerning the rule of law in the member states, to identify common or distinctive patterns that can account for the ideological commitment or the practical incentives provided by competition dynamics in the EP. In fact, I argue that the peculiar incentive structures might lead MEPs to sacrifice ideological coherence in order to protect illiberal national parties affiliated to their group. The study will rely on different methods (qualitative and quantitative) and retrieve data from different sources (plenary debates in the EP and vote results). More in detail, I will conduct a first qualitative analysis of the frames used by MEPs in the rule of law debates and then conclude with a quantitative analysis of MEPs’ voting behaviour on the issue.<br>To sum up, this work intends to bridge the literature on the rule of law with that concerning MEPs’ behaviour, by examining how even a topic such as European values, whose primacy is enshrined in the Treaties, is far from being undisputed and is, conversely, highly politicised. The text will be organised as follows. After an introduction that summarises the topic of the thesis and the main research questions, Chapter 1 provides an overview of the toolkit that the EU can use to safeguard its fundamental values and Chapter 2 presents the general trend of rule of law backsliding in the region. Chapter 3 is then devoted to discuss the research design and methodology of this study, including a description of the data collected. Then, Chapters 4 and 5 will be dedicated to the analysis of the debates and MEPs’ voting behaviour, to shed light on the conflicting incentives that they experience. Finally, the conclusions will summarise my results and indicate avenues for future research.
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