Research Handbooks in Law and Economics series
Edited by Thomas Eger and Hans-Bernd Schäfer
Chapter 3: EU Decision Making and the Allocation of Responsibility
Manfred J. Holler* 1 ON POLITICAL RESPONSIBILITY When, on 25 March 1957, the Treaty of Rome was signed creating the European Economic Community (EEC) of The Six, the legislative and executive power was installed in the Council of Ministers (“the Council” in what follows). The voting weights were four votes each for the larger countries France, Italy, and West Germany, two votes each for Belgium and the Netherlands, and one vote for Luxembourg. Given the differences in size of the various countries, irrespective of whether measured by population or total GDP, it seemed that Luxembourg was highly overrepresented. However, a qualified majority rule of 12 votes was prescribed and, given this quota, Luxembourg had no say in cases that were submitted to a formal vote. For the given vote distribution w = (4, 4, 4, 2, 2, 1) and the decision rule d = 12, its a priori voting power was zero. Can we conclude that the citizens of Luxembourg were not responsible for what happened in the EEC? Perhaps not, because in practical terms decisions by the Council relied on a full consensus, and the unanimity rule assigns to Luxembourg the same amount of voting power as it assigns to France, Italy or West Germany. However, could Luxembourg afford to say no if the five other EEC members said yes? Hardly!1 Does this imply that the government and the citizens of Luxembourg were not responsible for what happened in the EEC? Who is responsible for EU decision making: the Council,...
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