Technical Parliamentary Cooperation
The objective assigned to the technical interparliamentary cooperation consists in deepening the basis of the constitutional state, in enhancing the well functioning of democratic institutions through the improvement of the parliamentary work and in answering to the requests of the EU candidates' Parliaments, notably made for the procedures governing the introduction of community legislation.
The interparliamentary cooperation has become a favoured axis in the Senate's international action.
The historical context (end of the 80's, beginning of the 90's) confronts Parliaments of the well established democracies to new international challenges and responsibilities.
The collapse of the Soviet Union, the fall of the Berlin wall and the African national conferences gave birth to a wave of democratization of the political institutions in central and eastern Europe and in many countries located in the South, especially the French-speaking part of Africa. These countries aspiring to the establishment of a parliamentary democracy spontaneously acknowledged the Parliaments of older democracies, and first of all France, a dual role as witnesses and sponsors of the democratisation process.
As a parliamentary assembly in a stable democracy, the Senate is regularly sought to lend its experience to Parliaments in the new democracies. The variety of the requests epitomises the referential status, acquired under very different latitudes, of the parliamentary procedure put in place by the Senate and in its working and organisational methods as well as the appreciation carried about the skills of the administrative personnel.
The objective assigned to the technical interparliamentary cooperation consists in deepening the basis of the constitutional state, enhancing the well functioning of democratic institutions through the improvement of the parliamentary work and answering to the requests of the EU candidates' Parliaments, notably made for the procedures governing the assimilation of community assets.
The legitimacy of this move lies in the fact that the senatorial action in this domain consists in answering the worded requests and furthermore in the respect of the foreign traditions: this is under no circumstances about pretending to impose a model or about strongly encouraging to reproduce a scheme accurately but more modestly to expose the interested foreign parliament to the solutions retained by the French Senate to assume its fonctions.
The contribution can be bilaterally or multilaterally framed; besides, the number of those concerned increases notably as international institutions include into their programs the institutional component.
These two levels of operation are not exclusive of one another; they can reveal themselves to be very complementary: indeed, multilateral programs offer an obviously higher capacity than a single assembly, whether in financial or human terms; on the other hand, bilateralism can take the following of multilateralism, then enabling the beneficiary Parliament to perfect the topics of the program that ended and to have a referent.
1. General framework of cooperation
The origin of these actions is diverse:
- The majority result from audiences and trips of the Senate's President, who is solicited according to the case concerned by his foreign counterpart or even by the Head of State;
- The others meet various requests, sometimes echoed by senatorial friendship groups, respond to programs organised under the umbrella of multilateral organisms (UN, United Nations Development Program, European Union (TACIS, PHARE, MEDA, ALA, FED), Interamerican Bank of Development, Asian and African Banks of Development...) or to requests emanating from the State Department.
The focus of these actions is either general, that means the organisation and the running of the
Parliament, or specialized: legislative procedure, work in committee, creation of a website, account of debates, European integration...
The Senate is also called out to intervene in the establishment of newly created second chambers. As an example, the cooperation developed with the Gabonese Senate was introduced in February 1997, at the time of the reform of this institution.
Moreover, the Senate successively put three civil servants to the disposal of Cambodia for periods of time of two months each to assist this early assembly, particularly in the frame of the reform of its regulation and the writing of a personnel's administrative rule. Likewise, Burundi requested the support of the Senate in the setting up of the Senate envisioned by the Arusha agreement.
c. Frame of action
The contribution can be bilaterally or multilaterally framed ; besides, the number of those concerned increases notably as international institutions include into their programs the institutional component. These two levels of operation are not exclusive of one another; they can reveal themselves to be very complementary: indeed, multilateral programs offer an obviously higher capacity than a single assembly, whether in financial or human terms; on the other hand, bilateralism can take the following of multilateralism, then enabling the beneficiary Parliament to perfect the topics of the program that ended and to have a referent. In regard to the Senate, it was the case of the Georgian Parliament to the benefit of which it led a TACIS program in the follow-up of a bilateral cooperation; on the other hand, it established a program of cooperation with Cambodia and Armenia after having led in each of them a mission of expertise on behalf of an international organisation.
The actions of bilateral support can intervene either at the request of the authorities of foreign assemblies or in a pre-established framework (in case agreements of cooperation link the Senate to them). Burundi's Senate, China's Popular National Assembly, Cuba's National Assembly of Popular Power, Gabon's Senate, Marocco's Chamber of Counsellors, Romania's Senate, Russia's Counsel of Federation and the Vietnamese National Assembly belong to that latter category.
The engagement of international institutions in actions of cooperation has considerably expanded in the last ten years. This numerical and qualitative acceleration stems naturally from the consequences of the Soviet collapse, from the African national conferences and overally from the progress of democracy. This move led international institutions to define programs with the following objectives in mind:
- Bring a financial and technical aid facilitating the creation of a market economy ;
- Stabilise the new democracies by helping to the modernisation of the State ;
- Serve as a supportive instrument for the candidates for the integration in the European Union.
Through these priorities was clearly established the link between economic development and democratisation.
However, programs of state restructuring, that were accompanying the economic reform, paid first and foremost attention to the executives, the modernisation of the legislative branch being stepped aside. Until now, it has more largely been conducted under the aegis of bilateral action promoted by democratic Parliaments or organisations of interparliamentary cooperation such as the Interparliamentary Union than through international programs of cooperation. An awareness took shape showing international institutions the way of promoting the modernization of the legislative branch. The international action is all the more efficient as the experience of one Parliament is not erected as a model.
The transmission of different and complementary know-how enables every country to invent its own model of legislative institution.
The Senate makes its expertise available to international programs, whatever their origin may be: the European Commission (PHARE, TACIS, PVD-ALA, MEDA), the World Bank, the Interamerican Bank for Development, the United Nations Development Program (UNPD)...
And so the Senate, in conjunction with the Hellenic, Irish and Portuguese Parliaments, has conducted in Georgia a TACIS program aiming at reinforcing its Parliament.
Likewise, the Senate participates in a supportive European program towards the Douma and the Counsel of the Federation of Russia led by the National Assembly based on receiving interns and sending experts.
The International Relations Department is a light structure, that devises, runs and coordinates these actions of cooperation. It leans on pluridisciplinary teams from :
- Civil servants of French Assemblies in activity or former ones according to their specialties;
- Representatives of juridical occupations (lawyers, attorneys, teachers) in collaboration with ACOJURIS ;
- Foreign parliamentary civil servants in the frame of consortiums.
International Relations Department
Sénat – 15, rue de Vaugirard – 75006 PARIS
Phone : +33(0)1 42 34 23 12
Email : email@example.com
The transmission of the senatorial know-how is run along three ways:
- Missions abroad
- Reception of interns and delegations
- Follow-up of relations with its correspondents
2. Implementation of cooperation
The purpose of these missions is variable: most have vocation to deliver a very broad expertise and concern principally the organisation of parliamentary proceedings and the training of the assembly personnel. Others have a narrower object (creation of a website, know-how in the building of the office of the assembly).
Some missions stem from a bilateral program between the Senate and the concerned foreign assembly, others are implemented in conjunction with other administrations (National Assembly, Minister of Cooperation to cite a few). The Senate makes furthermore its expertise available to international organisations like the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Interparliamentary Union (UIP) or the Assembly of French-Speaking Parliamentarians (APF).
Reception in the Senate of interns and visitors
The Senate welcomes among its administration some civil servants from foreign Parliaments in order to train them. These internships last between one week and one month to associate their beneficiaries to the ongoing process of the Senate departments.
These interns come from various countries: Bulgaria, Senegal, Gabon, Cameroun, Burkina-Faso, Ivory Coast, Laos, Latvia, Lebanon, Georgia, Poland, Russia, Cuba...
Moreover, long sessions of internships are organized by the Senate, in partnership with the National
Assembly and the International Institute of Public administration (IIAP), on a period of four weeks, to the advantage of civil servants or French-speaking parliamentarians (something like 30 every year) from different national backgrounds.
The Senate receives every year several hundreds of visitors (parliamentarians, civil servants) for interviews on the organisation and the operation of the Senate or on a more precise topic (legislative procedure, control, public relations policy).
The origin of these study visits is multifaceted: they are being set up at the request of foreign
Parliaments, the Foreign Ministry (notably in its dealing with the program called future political figures) or the National Assembly (and the reciprocal assumption is verified) so as to make interns find out about the working of the two-chamber system in real conditions.
The Senate sets out to improve its tools of intervention in order to accentuate the worth of the training delivered. It goes without saying that it performs a counseling or informative function to those who would like, on an occasional basis, to call out its experience so as to solve a problem, that has surfaced in the functioning of the foreign Parliament. It provides henceforth a telephone or written follow-up with its correspondents.
In order to allow them to find some pieces of information to answer their questions, the Senate has drawn up a selection of short and practical technical notes about the different aspects of its organisation and its working methods. Indeed, if each Assembly inherently contains some specificity due to its historical background and its location, one may observe that several problems are common to parliamentary assemblies, so that some reflections worked out in one country might reasonably be adapted to fit in another country's institutional scheme.