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Legislative Politics in the European Union


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  • George Tsebelis

    (UCLA, USA)

  • Geoffrey Garrett

    (Yale University, USA)

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    This paper compares legislative dynamics under all procedures in which the Council of Ministers votes by qualified majority (QMV). We make five major points. First, the EU governments have sought to reduce the democratic deficit by increasing the powers of the European Parliament since 1987, whereas they have lessened the legislative influence of the Commission. Under the Amsterdam treaty's version of the codecision procedure, the Parliament is a coequal legislator with the Council, whereas the Commission's influence is likely to be more informal than formal. Second, as long as the Parliament acts as a pro-integration entrepreneur, policy outcomes under consultation, cooperation and the new codecision will be more integrationist than the QMV-pivot in the Council prefers. Third, the pace of European integration may slow down if MEPs become more responsive to the demands of their constituents. Fourth, the EU is evolving into a bicameral legislature with a heavy status quo bias. Not only does the Council use QMV but absolute majority voting requirements and high levels of absenteeism create a de facto supermajority threshold for Parliamentary decisions. Finally, if the differences between the Council and the Parliament concern regulation issues on a traditional left-right axis, the Commission is more likely to be the ally of the Council than the Parliament.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by in its journal European Union Politics.

    Volume (Year): 1 (2000)
    Issue (Month): 1 (February)
    Pages: 9-36

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    Handle: RePEc:sae:eeupol:v:1:y:2000:i:1:p:9-36

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    Related research

    Keywords: democratic deficit; European Parliament; European Union; legislative institutions; spatial models;


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    Cited by:
    1. Miriam Hartlapp & Christian Rauh, 2013. "The Commission’s internal conditions for social re-regulation: Market efficiency and wider social goals in setting the rules for financial services in Europe," European Journal of Government and Economics, Europa Grande, vol. 2(1), pages 25-40, June.
    2. Widgrén, Mika, 2008. "The Impact of Council Voting Rules on EU Decision-Making," Discussion Papers, The Research Institute of the Finnish Economy 1162, The Research Institute of the Finnish Economy.
    3. Hlavac, Marek, 2010. "Less Than a state, more than an international organization: The Sui generis nature of the European Union," MPRA Paper 27179, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    4. Mika Widgrén, 2008. "The Impact of Council's Internal Decision-Making Rules on the Future EU," Discussion Papers, Aboa Centre for Economics 26, Aboa Centre for Economics.
    5. Seikel, Daniel, 2011. "Wie die Europäische Kommission Liberalisierung durchsetzt: Der Konflikt um das öffentlich-rechtliche Bankenwesen in Deutschland," MPIfG Discussion Paper 11/16, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies.
    6. Stefan Napel & Mika Widgrén, 2008. "The European Commission–Appointment, preferences, and institutional relations," Public Choice, Springer, Springer, vol. 137(1), pages 21-41, October.
    7. Hartlapp, Miriam & Metz, Julia & Rauh, Christian, 2010. "How external interests enter the European Commission: Mechanisms at play in legislative position formation," Discussion Papers, Schumpeter Junior Research Group Position Formation in the EU Commission SP IV 2010-501, Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB).
    8. Hosli, Madeleine O.; Arnold, Christine, 2007. "The Importance of Actor Cleavages in Negotiating the European Constitutional Treaty," European Governance Papers (EUROGOV), CONNEX and EUROGOV networks 3, CONNEX and EUROGOV networks.


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