Legislative Politics in the European Union
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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