The Nature of Political Parties in
The European Union
|If one sees the EC as a multi-level system ... and if one understands integration as a process during which mutual links between these levels grow, then the existence and activities of transnational party organisations are important for the integration progress. They help to establish and maintain links between different levels; they are a component of the sociopolitical infrastructure of the EC system which can be regarded as an emerging political system (Hrbek, 1988: 457; see also Henig, 1979: 5).|
In their seminal work the Pridhams (1981: 5) concluded that transnational party cooperation had been "something of a 'forgotten' aspect of Community studies." The few studies that had been conducted until then had focused on the political groups in the Common Assembly and the European Parliament (see Fitzmaurice, 1975; Haas, 1958; Oudenhove, 1965). However, the founding of transnational party federations in the mid-1970s, as a response to the decision in 1974 that the Members of the European Parliament would be directly elected, acted as a stimulus for further research (see Gresch, 1978; Lodge and Herman, 1982; Niedermayer, 1983; Pridham and Pridham, 1981; Rutschke, 1986). Today, further stimulus is provided by the call for European parties, the obvious interest on the part of various political parties in establishing transnational party networks, and the enhanced powers of the European Parliament.
The overall aims of this chapter are to shed some light on the nature of transnational party cooperation within the European Union and on the nexus____________________