Safe Enough To Argue? Giving Reasons in the Council of the EU
This paper aims at contributing to the empirical turn in deliberative theory, by analysing the presence of arguing and bargaining in the working groups of the Council of the EU. To what extent is arguing an important mode of decision-making in the Council, what circumstances make arguing more likely to occur and what types of actors are most inclined to argue? The paper uses survey data on representatives from all EU member states. It also proposes a solution to one particularly difficult problem facing researchers who try to measure deliberation empirically, namely the distinction between arguing and cooperative forms of bargaining. It argues that the key for operationalising this distinction lies in studying the motivations for giving reasons. The results indicate that arguing is indeed common in the Council working groups, but also that there is substantial variation between different working groups and types of actors. Most arguing is found in intergovernmental policy areas and by the most powerful and well-connected actors. An important general argument coming out of these findings is that actors are more likely to engage in arguing when they feel confident and in control of the decision-making situation. Increasing the pressure by raising the degree of coercion and the risks involved with losing the outcome of the deliberations tend to draw the actors towards a bargaining mode.
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