Research Handbooks in Law and Economics series
Edited by Thomas Eger and Hans-Bernd Schäfer
Chapter 2: The Rules of Decisionmaking in EU Institutions
George Tsebelis* 1 For much of the first decade of the twenty-first century (2001–09) the EU has tried to reform its institutions. These efforts began in the mid-1980s and continued through the early 2000s, resulting in a new agreement every three to four years with little ultimate success (Tsebelis and Yataganas 2002). Further, the initial institutions adopted in the Single European Act (SEA 1986) were essentially replicating the decisionmaking rules in the Council adopted in the Rome Treaty (1957) and adding an important role for the European Parliament (Tsebelis 1994; Tsebelis and Kreppel 1999). So, the de jure decisionmaking rules in the Council have remained essentially stable (although not applied until the SEA) and changed for the first time under the institutional reform process initiated after the Nice Treaty (2000). Table 2.1 demonstrates this stability of the required qualified majority in the Council (over 70 percent from 1958 until the Convention). The reform process that led to the first real change in European institutions started with the Laeken declaration (2001) and took almost ten years to be completed. So, in the EU case, stasis was followed by painstakingly slow change. The reason for the slow rate of change was that while the target was set and known (set by the significant institutional change produced by the European Convention), it was not acceptable by all the political actors whose assent was required to instigate change. These actors engaged in a strategic exercise during which they each tried to achieve an...
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