The Institutions of the Enlarged European Union

The Institutions of the Enlarged European Union

Continuity and Change

Studies in EU Reform and Enlargement series

Edited by Edward Best, Thomas Christiansen and Pierpaolo Settembri

How have the main institutions and decision-making processes of the EU responded to the arrival of new member states? This book assesses the actual state of the EU institutions in the years after the 2004 enlargement, examining each of the main institutional actors as well as trends in legislative output, implementing measures and non-legislative approaches. The contributors outline the key changes as well as patterns of continuity in the institutional politics of the EU.

Chapter 3: Surviving Enlargement: How Has the Council Managed?

Edward Best and Pierpaolo Settembri

Subjects: politics and public policy, european politics and policy, public policy


Edward Best and Pierpaolo Settembri* The Council of the European Union – the Council of Ministers – has been the subject of concerns about the impact of enlargement since before 1995. Indeed these have been more prominent and more focused than in the case of the other institutions, given that it is here that the increase in numbers is most directly and obviously reflected. Some issues have concerned perceptions of fairness, given the significant increase in the relative number of small countries enjoying over-representation in the institutional system. Most, however, have related to effectiveness. Would there not be a risk of paralysis if decisions had to be taken between 27 or more countries without major change in the rules? How would meetings be managed with so many delegations? This chapter therefore looks at the Council, three years after the 2004 enlargement, in order to assess what has actually changed in how the Council does business, and what significance enlargement may have had. It first addresses the methodological challenges which are involved in identifying and evaluating the specific ‘impact’ of enlargement on the Council, and presents the data and parameters which are used in the present analysis. It then looks back at the initiatives taken by the Council to prepare for the enlargement with regard to decision-making rules, languages, the General Secretariat, and Council working methods. The third section assesses how the Council has ‘survived’ the doubling of membership, and whether this survival has been accompanied by qualitative...

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