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When and Why the EU Council of Ministers Votes Explicitly

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  • FIONA HAYES-RENSHAW
  • WIM VAN AKEN
  • HELEN WALLACE

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Fiona Hayes-Renshaw & Wim Van Aken & Helen Wallace, 2006. "When and Why the EU Council of Ministers Votes Explicitly," Journal of Common Market Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 44(1), pages 161-194, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:jcmkts:v:44:y:2006:i:1:p:161-194
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    Cited by:

    1. Stéphanie Novak, 2013. "The Silence of Ministers: Consensus and Blame Avoidance in the Council of the European Union," Journal of Common Market Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 51(6), pages 1091-1107, November.
    2. Svetličič Marjan & Cerjak Kira, 2015. "Small Countries’ EU Council Presidency and the Realisation of their National Interests: The Case of Slovenia," Croatian International Relations Review, De Gruyter Open, vol. 21(74), pages 5-39, December.
    3. Maja Kluger Rasmussen, 2016. "‘Heavy Fog in the Channel. Continent Cut Off’? British Diplomatic Relations in Brussels after 2010," Journal of Common Market Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 54(3), pages 709-724, May.
    4. Serguei Kaniovski & Alexander Zaigraev, 2011. "Optimal jury design for homogeneous juries with correlated votes," Theory and Decision, Springer, vol. 71(4), pages 439-459, October.
    5. Serguei Kaniovski & Sreejith Das, 2015. "Measuring voting power in games with correlated votes using Bahadur’s parametrisation," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer;The Society for Social Choice and Welfare, vol. 44(2), pages 349-367, February.
    6. Badinger, Harald & Mühlböck, Monika & Nindl, Elisabeth & Reuter, Wolf Heinrich, 2014. "Theoretical vs. empirical power indices: Do preferences matter?," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 36(C), pages 158-176.
    7. Marcello Carammia & Sebastiaan Princen & Arco Timmermans, 2016. "From Summitry to EU Government: An Agenda Formation Perspective on the European Council," Journal of Common Market Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 54(4), pages 809-825, July.
    8. Tanja Börzel, 2010. "European Governance: Negotiation and Competition in the Shadow of Hierarchy," Journal of Common Market Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 48, pages 191-219, March.
    9. Serguei Kaniovski & Dennis Leech, 2009. "A behavioral power index," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 141(1), pages 17-29, October.
    10. Běla Plechanovová, 2011. "Coalitions in the EU Council: Pitfalls of Multidimensional Analysis," Czech Economic Review, Charles University Prague, Faculty of Social Sciences, Institute of Economic Studies, vol. 5(3), pages 249-266, November.
    11. Stefanie Bailer & Florian Weiler, 2015. "A political economy of positions in climate change negotiations: Economic, structural, domestic, and strategic explanations," The Review of International Organizations, Springer, vol. 10(1), pages 43-66, March.
    12. Jakob Lempp, 2007. "ÒCoreper EnlargedÓ: how Enlargement Affected the Functioning of the Committee of Permanent Representatives," European Political Economy Review, European Political Economy Infrastructure Consortium, vol. 6(March), pages 31-52.
    13. Muhlbock, Monika & Tosun, Jale, 2015. "Deciding over controversial issues: Voting behavior in the Council and the European Parliament on genetically modified organisms," GMCC-15: Seventh GMCC, November 17-20, 2015, Amsterdam, the Netherlands 211480, International Conference on Coexistence between Genetically Modified (GM) and non-GM based Agricultural Supply Chains (GMCC).
    14. Igor Guardiancich, 2016. "The ‘Leap’ from Coordination to Harmonization in Social Policy: Labour Mobility and Occupational Pensions in Europe," Journal of Common Market Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 54(6), pages 1313-1331, November.
    15. Kira Killermann, 2016. "Loose Ties or Strong Bonds? The Effect of a Commissioner's Nationality and Partisanship on Voting in the Council," Journal of Common Market Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 54(6), pages 1367-1383, November.
    16. Kaniovski, Serguei, 2009. "An invariance result for homogeneous juries with correlated votes," Mathematical Social Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 57(2), pages 213-222, March.
    17. Bart Van Ballaert, 2015. "The Politics behind the Consultation of Expert Groups: An Instrument to Reduce Uncertainty or to Offset Salience?," Politics and Governance, Cogitatio Press, vol. 3(1), pages 139-150.
    18. Daniel Naurin, 2007. "Network Capital and Cooperation Patterns in the Working Groups of the Council of the EU," EUI-RSCAS Working Papers 14, European University Institute (EUI), Robert Schuman Centre of Advanced Studies (RSCAS).
    19. Rebecca Adler-Nissen, 2016. "Towards a Practice Turn in EU Studies: The Everyday of European Integration," Journal of Common Market Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 54(1), pages 87-103, January.
    20. Sigrid Winkler, 2013. "A question of sovereignty?," Asia Europe Journal, Springer, vol. 11(1), pages 1-20, March.
    21. Petr Kaniok, 2014. "EU Presidency as a Tool of Agenda Setting: Europe without Frontiers," Současná Evropa, University of Economics, Prague, vol. 2014(1), pages 49-69.

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