Rising despite the polycrisis? The European Parliament’s strategies of self-empowerment after Lisbon

The European Union (EU) is currently enmeshed in a polycrisis. Yet, a treaty change to ease these crises is out of reach. We ask how a supranational actor, the European Parliament (EP), strives for more de facto powers amidst this situation. Relying on refined propositions of inter-institutional bargaining theory, we argue that the EP skilfully deploys strategies in order to extend its powers beyond the provisions of the Lisbon Treaty. Based on original interview material, we assess these propositions in two crisis-ridden areas of EU decision-making: economic governance and the negotiation of trade agreements. We find that the EP extended its powers in both policies by applying a set of particular strategies, which include obstructing the decision-making process, acting as a first-mover and mobilizing the public. Finally, we reflect on the possible consequences of this self-empowerment for the EP’s legitimacy.