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Legislative Politics in the European Union


  • George Tsebelis

    (UCLA, USA)

  • Geoffrey Garrett

    (Yale University, USA)


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.

Suggested Citation

  • George Tsebelis & Geoffrey Garrett, 2000. "Legislative Politics in the European Union," European Union Politics, , vol. 1(1), pages 9-36, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:eeupol:v:1:y:2000:i:1:p:9-36

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    Cited by:

    1. Stefan Napel & Mika Widgrén, 2008. "The European Commission–Appointment, preferences, and institutional relations," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 137(1), pages 21-41, October.
    2. Thomas König & Bernd Luig, 2014. "Ministerial gatekeeping and parliamentary involvement in the implementation process of EU directives," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 160(3), pages 501-519, September.
    3. Amandine Crespy & Katarzyna Gajewska, 2010. "New Parliament, New Cleavages after the Eastern Enlargement? The Conflict over the Services Directive as an Opposition between the Liberals and the Regulators," Journal of Common Market Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 48, pages 1185-1208, November.
    4. Mika Widgrén, 2008. "The Impact of Council's Internal Decision-Making Rules on the Future EU," Discussion Papers 26, Aboa Centre for Economics.
    5. 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, WZB Berlin Social Science Center.
    6. repec:zbw:espost:176810 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Mühlböck, Monika and Berthold Rittberger, 2015. "The Council, the European Parliament, and the paradox of inter-institutional cooperation," European Integration online Papers (EIoP), European Community Studies Association Austria (ECSA-A), vol. 19, January.
    8. Widgrén, Mika, 2008. "The Impact of Council Voting Rules on EU Decision-Making," Discussion Papers 1162, The Research Institute of the Finnish Economy.
    9. 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.
    10. Esther Lopatin, 2013. "The Changing Position of the European Parliament on Irregular Migration and Asylum under Co-decision," Journal of Common Market Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 51(4), pages 740-755, July.
    11. 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.
    12. Sara Hagemann & Bjørn Høyland, 2010. "Bicameral Politics in the European Union," Journal of Common Market Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 48, pages 811-833, September.
    13. Kristel Jacquier, 2015. "Political conflicts over European integration: rejection or ambivalence?," Université Paris1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (Post-Print and Working Papers) halshs-01243675, HAL.
    14. Nicola Maaser & Alexander Mayer, 2016. "Codecision in context: implications for the balance of power in the EU," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer;The Society for Social Choice and Welfare, vol. 46(1), pages 213-237, January.
    15. Daniel Seikel, 2016. "Flexible Austerity and Supranational Autonomy. The Reformed Excessive Deficit Procedure and the Asymmetry between Liberalization and Social Regulation in the EU," Journal of Common Market Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 54(6), pages 1398-1416, November.
    16. 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.
    17. 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).
    18. Hosli, Madeleine O.; Arnold, Christine, 2007. "The Importance of Actor Cleavages in Negotiating the European Constitutional Treaty," European Governance Papers (EUROGOV) 3, CONNEX and EUROGOV networks.
    19. Pierpaolo Settembri & Christine Neuhold, 2009. "Achieving Consensus Through Committees: Does the European Parliament Manage?," Journal of Common Market Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 47, pages 127-151, January.
    20. 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.
    21. Javier Arregui, 2016. "Determinants of Bargaining Satisfaction Across Policy Domains in the European Union Council of Ministers," Journal of Common Market Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 54(5), pages 1105-1122, September.


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