Looking ahead to the meeting of the Association of European Senates on 16 and 17 April 2010, the Italian Senate has compiled a questionnaire on the various agenda items. It focuses in particular on the following themes: "The Developments of Parliamentary Diplomacy in the 21st Century. The Role of the Upper Houses" ‒ which will be debated in the morning session ‒ and "The Role of Upper Houses between Local Government and the European Union", which will be the topic of the afternoon session.
The purpose was to set a number of specially designed questions on each of these two topics to stimulate European Upper Houses to reflect jointly and describe their own status within their respective legal systems, but above all, wherever possible, to describe the new situations that are emerging as a potential, or actual, consequence of the developments in the process of European integration and the considerable increase in inter-Parliamentary relations.
Against the backdrop of developments in the European integration process, also in the light of the Lisbon Treaty and the substantial new tasks that have now been given to each Chamber of the national Parliaments, particular stress will be placed on the "unifying vocation" of the Upper Houses, as places in which it is possible to establish a linkage between the regional and the local dimensions, which is the specific constitutional role for many of them, and the European supranational dimension, in order to increase the relevance of the local dimension. This linkage seems to be possible in view of the flexibility inherent in the principle of subsidiarity, under which it is possible to distribute powers and roles at the level closest to the citizens.
Against the backdrop of the development of Parliamentary diplomacy, the intent is to describe the various ways in which Parliaments co-operate in the different areas of international business. The supranational dimension of Parliamentary life has gained momentum in recent years, such that a new expression has been coined for those routinely engaged in it: "parliamentary diplomacy". This is a demanding task, which refers dynamically to the process through which Parliamentary bodies conduct international relations in parallel with the traditional diplomacy of Governments.
The Senate will collect the input and suggestions of European Upper Houses and draft a document setting out in greater detail the main elements of these two core themes. The document could prove a useful knowledge base to elaborate on during the meetings of 16 and 17 April 2010.