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How the European Union does not work: national bargaining success in the Council of Ministers

Golub, J. (2012) How the European Union does not work: national bargaining success in the Council of Ministers. Journal of European Public Policy, 19 (9). pp. 1294-1315. ISSN 1466-4429

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1080/13501763.2012.693413


We know surprisingly little about whether the content of European Union legislation reflects the preferences of some Member States more than others. The few studies that have examined national bargaining success rates for EU legislation have conceptual and methodological weaknesses. To redress these problems I use a salience-weighted measure to gauge the relative success of Member States in translating their national preferences into legislation, and test two plausible, competing hypotheses about how the EU works: that no state consistently achieves more of what it really wants than any other, and that large Member States tend to beat small ones. Neither hypothesis receives empirical support. Not only do states differ far more significantly in their respective levels of bargaining success than previously recognised, but some of the smaller states are the ones that do especially well. The paper‟s main contribution -- demonstrating that the EU does not work as most people think it does -- sets the stage for new research questions, both positive and normative. In the last section I make a tentative start answering two of the most important: which factors explain the surprising empirical results, and whether differential national bargaining success might undermine the legitimacy of the integration process.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Politics, Economics and International Relations > Politics and International Relations
ID Code:25386
Uncontrolled Keywords:European Union, bargaining, decisionmaking, consensus, legitimacy
Publisher:Taylor & Francis


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