Stronger support for Parliaments needed

Ms Glenys Kinnock is a British member of the European Parliament. She is the co-chair of the Joint Parliamentary Assembly

A strong and capable state needs a legitimate constitution which clearly defines and separates the powers of the judiciary and the legislature from the executive. It is parliamentarians who are responsible for scrutinizing the executive’s actions and also for holding it to account. I have been Co-President of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly (JPA) for many years now and I continue to be frustrated by the failure to assist and support parliaments in developing countries, whose members often lack the capacity to be effective representatives. The JPA has improved MPs’ ability to participate in political dialogue and to provide the necessary checks and balances that bring the democratic legitimacy which the Cotonou Partnership Agreement demands. But, the JPA, like the Pan-African Parliament would be much more effective if all our Member States were much more involved in debates on for instance, the Economic Partnership Agreements and the European Development Fund in their own Parliaments. We need more clarity about EC support for parliamentary capacity building in developing countries, about the parliamentary work of African countries can be resourced and how these parliaments can grow and develop their current advisory mandate. As donors like the European Union, increasingly give direct budget support to Africa governments, there should be a clear understanding that effective parliaments have a pivotal role to play.

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