The Role of the Parliament in Strategic Planning
The Chancellery of the Riigikogu organised the international seminar Procedures and Practices for Debating and Approving Long Term National Strategies in Parliaments in May 2013. The discussion centred on strategic documents for planning long term national development (development plans, main directions and foundations of policies, strategic plans).
The seminar, which was organised in the framework of the ECPRD cooperation network, counted the participation of over 50 representatives from 21 parliamentary chambers, who studied the role of parliaments in European countries. Is the role of the parliament to raise strategic issues, bring something into spotlight, discuss, take note – or something more? The participants studied the phase of planning and compiling strategic documents. Attempt was made to answer practical questions: how are strategies proceeded in parliaments and what is the role of the Plenary Assembly and the committees in this? How does parliamentary supervision and control over implementation of strategies work?
Developing strategic plans is mainly the task of the governments. MPs or committees can be involved in a work group for developing a plan, or the role of the parliament could also be limited to only hearing the information. The important role of the parliaments in supervising the implementation of the strategies was emphasised. The government has a duty to report to the representative body on how the strategies are implemented: nearly one half of the European countries do this on a regular basis, the rest by a request of the parliament or one of its bodies.
The parliaments do not generally define their work as strategic planning, but this does not mean that they do not engage in this. Parliaments are using various models – they are either based or not based on determined procedures, have created special committees, involve parliamentary bodies or other institutions into the process.