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When and Why the Council of Ministers of the EU Votes Explicitly


  • Fiona Hayes-Renshaw
  • Wim van Aken and Helen Wallace


This paper reports 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 more 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 sets draw on the material available on the Council's own website, but they have been supplemented by hand-collected data, in particular as regards issue areas and types of decision. Once arranged appropriately the data sets will be posted on the web, so that other researchers can have access to the material. The initial analysis of the data is reported in the second edition of Hayes-Renshaw and Wallace, The Council of Ministers, Palgrave, forthcoming, Chapter 10. 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 member states, that nearly half the cases concern 'technical' decisions on agriculture and fisheries, and that Germany more often votes 'no' or abstains than any other member state. The data confirm that ministers generally endorse collective decisions by consensus, even on the 70% or so cases 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.

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  • Fiona Hayes-Renshaw & Wim van Aken and Helen Wallace, 2005. "When and Why the Council of Ministers of the EU Votes Explicitly," EUI-RSCAS Working Papers 25, European University Institute (EUI), Robert Schuman Centre of Advanced Studies (RSCAS).
  • Handle: RePEc:erp:euirsc:p0162

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Heikki Kauppi & Mika Widgrén, 2004. "What determines EU decision making? Needs, power or both?," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 19(39), pages 221-266, July.
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    Cited by:

    1. Wolfgang Wessels, 2005. "Keynote Article: The Constitutional Treaty - Three Readings from a Fusion Perspective," Journal of Common Market Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 43(s1), pages 11-36, September.

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    Council of Ministers; majority voting;

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