Recent studies by Stavridis1 point to empirical evidence of the increase of parliamentary inputs in world affairs, as well as a significant growth in the number of transnational parliamentary bodies. This phenomenon has conveniently been dubbed as ‘parliamentary diplomacy.’
Parliamentary diplomacy is essentially defined as all the activities and actions that parliamentary bodies and their members take in international relations.2Increasingly, the transnational nature of issues of public interest such as security, the environment, human rights, culture and trade affect parliamentarians in their daily work and require increased interaction with their counterparts in other countries. In recent years, the impact of parliamentarians on the international scene has led to the accelerated development of parliamentary diplomacy. Parliamentary diplomacy is unique in that it complements traditional government diplomacy advantageously and ultimately does not aim to replace it but rather enhance it.3 This paper will provide a brief overview of the concept of parliamentary diplomacy in the context of relations between South Africa and the European Union (EU). The central question of this paper can be stated as follows: since Parliament of South Africa has already established relations with the EU, would it be beneficial for Parliament to (1) redefine this relationship through a structured process or (2) continue dealing with the EU using the conventional parliamentary diplomacy model?
In order to answer this question,
South Africa’s current relationship with the EU will firstly be discussed. Secondly, relations between South Africa and other regional bodies outside the EU will be examined and finally, various parliamentary diplomacy models for the proposed relationship between South Africa and the EU will be suggested.