When and Why the EU Council of Ministers Votes Explicitly
This article presents newly collected empirical data sets on explicitly contested voting at ministerial level in the Council of Ministers of the European Union. These data sets cover the period 1994-2004, with greater detail for the years 1998-2004. They provide us with rather steady patterns of explicitly contested voting across the period in terms of: proportions of decisions taken where contested voting was recorded; the different levels of contestation by country; and the issue areas in which explicit voting occurred more often. The data show that explicit voting on agreed decisions at ministerial level is rather rare, that in nearly half the roll calls dissent is expressed only by singleton (lone) Member States, that nearly half the cases concern 'technical' decisions on agriculture and fisheries, and that Germany votes 'no' or abstains more often than any other Member State. The data confirm that ministers generally endorse collective decisions by consensus, even in those cases (some 70 per cent of the total) where they could activate qualified majority voting (QMV). To the extent that voting takes place in these latter cases, it occurs implicitly rather than explicitly, operates mostly at the level of officials rather than ministers, and is not recorded systematically in publicly accessible form. These patterns are consistent with earlier accounts based on qualitative interview evidence. Copyright 2006 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.
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Volume (Year): 44 (2006)
Issue (Month): 1 (03)
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