Continuity and Change
- Studies in EU Reform and Enlargement series
Edited by Edward Best, Thomas Christiansen and Pierpaolo Settembri
3. Surviving enlargement: how has the Council managed? 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...
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