Blog & News

'Rapporteur-Shadow Rapporteurships in the EP' published in EJPR

A new paper on Rapporteur‐shadow rapporteur networks in the European Parliament: The strength of small numbers, co-authored with Nils Ringe, is now pubishd online by the European Journal of Political Research.

Update of chance-corrected measures of foreign policy similarity

An updated version of the FPSIM dataset of similarity measures of foreign policy positions is now available for download download from my Dataverse.

The dataset provides measures of foreign policy similarity of dyads based on alliance ties (Correlates of War, version 4.1) and UN General Assembly voting (Voeten, version 17) for all members of the international system (Correlates of War system membership list, version 5.0). The alliance data cover the time period from 1816 to 2012, and the UN voting data from 1946 to 2015. The similarity measures include various versions of Ritter and Signorino's S (weighted/non-weighted by material capabilities; squared/absolute distance metrics) as well as the chance-corrected measures Cohen's Kappa and Scott's Pi. The measures based on alliance data come in two versions: one is based on valued alliance ties and the other is based on binary alliance ties. For a discussion of the advantages of chance-corrected measures over Ritter and Signorino's S for measuring the similarity of foreign policy positions, see my 2011 article in Political Analysis.

'Political Conflict in Bismarck's Germany' published in Party Politics

My article on 'Political Conflict in Bismarck's Germany: An Analysis of Pariamentary Voting, 1867-1890' has been published in Party Politics. The study investigates the number and content of party political conflict dimensions in the early years of Imperial Germany by scaling legislative roll call votes in the Reichstag.

'Political Attention in the Council of the EU' published in European Union Politics

In a paper that has now been published with European Union Politics, I am presenting a new dataset on the allocation of 'Political attention in the Council of the EU', covering all policy areas and a period of twenty years.

'Consensus Decisions and Similarity Measures in IOs' published in International Interactions

My article on 'Consensus Decisions and Similarity Measures in International Organizations', co-authored with Simon Hug from the University of Geneva, has been published by International Interactions.

'The Scheduling Power of the EU Council Presidency' published in Journal of European Public Policy

My paper on the 'Scheduling power of the EU Council Presidency' has now been published online by the Journal of European Public Policy.


Missing information in Prelex/EUPOL

Unfortunately, some of the process information in Prelex for procedures starting in 2013 and 2014 seems to have been lost in the transition from Prelex to EUR-Lex (see my earlier post). Since EUPOL is based on Prelex, this information is also missing in the last update of the dataset (v05). Prelex has since been taken offline without rectifying these omissions.

Here's the communicaton I had about this issue with the EUR-Lex helpdesk:

13 October 2014 (Email to EUR-Lex helpdesk):

"I am relying on Prelex for some of my research on legislative politics in the EU. When gathering information from the database, I noticed that information on many proposals introduced in the years 2013 and 2014 is missing. Process information on 171 out of 936 proposals is missing for 2013 and 310 out of 583 proposals in 2014 (as of 17th September). After checking some of those files on the new EurLex page, I found that the information on legislative procedures was complete there (see e.g. COM(2013)937, COM(2013)853, COM(2013)902; I can send a list of all files if required). Therefore, I am wondering whether PreLex is not being updated anymore and if it still is, how much of a time delay one can expect?"

6 November 204 (Reply by EUR-Lex helpdesk):

"We have been trying to analyse and fix the problem about which you so kindly informed us. Unfortunately, both processes involve several technical issues that need time to be overcome. The new EUR-Lex is, since its opening (April-2014), the site of reference for the information related to the legislative procedures. All the content of Prelex has been made available in EUR-Lex, that also features several possibilities of research throughout the thousands of existing procedures (please see the advanced search form – domain: legislative procedures; with the important remark that this form, together with the other advanced search forms, is currently undergoing an in-depth analysis and revamp). PreLex is still updated, but since EUR-Lex is, and will be, the site of reference, the PreLex website is foreseen to be shut down in some months. We are trying to solve the shortcomings spotted, which are not linked to delays, but to technical difficulties, but we cannot guarantee a quick and complete solution, concerning Prelex. What we can guarantee (and if this is not the case, please inform us about the mistakes or omissions you may find) is the proper information on and display of procedures in EUR-Lex webpage, that is the site to visit for searches like yours."

Comment on effects of Council voting rule changes in European Voice

European Voice asked me to comment on the possible effects of the voting rule changes in the Council of Ministers of the EU that come into force on 1st November. If you have a subscription, the article can be directly accessed online. If not, here's the PDF page of the print version.

New voting rules in the EU Council of Ministers from 1st November

On 1st November, the new Lisbon treaty voting rules for the Council of the European Union enter into force. In comparison to the existing Nice treaty rules (and considerably simplified, for more details see especially Table A3 in the online appendix to an article I wrote on the topic), the new rules reduce the overall threshold for reaching a qualified majority from about 74 to 65 percent and allocate voting weights of individual member states in direct proportion to member states' population size. The figure below shows that the clear winners of this reform, at least in terms of increased voting weight, are the larger member states, whereas the medium-sized and small states lose out. However, the full effect of the changes in the voting rules are unlikely to be felt before April 2017. Until that point in time, any member state can still request that a Council decision is to be adopted according to the old Nice treaty rules. Whether the new voting rules will make any difference until then for the way the Council makes decisions will mainly depend on how readily member states are willing to take advantage of this right to request the application of the old rules.

Council voting weights

'Bureaucrats as Law-Makers' out in paperback now

My book on 'Bureaucrats as Law-Makers: Committee Decision-Making in the EU Council of Ministers' is now also available from Routledge in paperback at a significantly reduced prize of £30. UACES members only pay £25 by entering the code 'uaces' at checkout.

Updated version of EUPOL dataset available

An updated version of the European Policy-Making (EUPOL) dataset is now available here. The information was downloaded from Prelex on 17th and 18th September 2014, covering the entire 7th term of the European Parliament. However, it should be noted that a substantial proportion of proposals recorded in Prelex in the years 2013 and 2014 lack any information on the progress of the decision-making process (i.e. the only information available for those cases is the proposal code, the title of the proposal, and the code of the legislative procedure). To be precise, process information is missing for 171 of 936 proposals in 2013 and 310 of 583 proposals in 2014. At the moment, it is not clear why this information is missing and whether it will be added to Prelex at a future point in time.

LSE blog contribution on effect of change in Council voting rule

I have written a contribution for the European Politics and Policy blog of the LSE, which discusses possible effects of the change in Council voting rules resulting from the Lisbon Treaty amendments. The entire blog entry can be read here:

Article summary for the LSE's EUROPP blog

I have written a summary of my article on 'Coalition-Building and Consensus in the Council of the European Union' for the LSE's European Politics and Policy blog. The articles came out in print this week in the British Journal of Political Science. A copy of the article is available here.

PhD Scholarship in European Union Politics

The Department of Politics and Public Administration of the University of Limerick is inviting applications for a PhD scholarship in the area of European Union Politics. Applications are especially welcome from candidates who wish to study aspects of the European Parliament or the Council of Ministers in their role as law-making institutions. Skills in research methods or a willingness to acquire them would be an advantage.

The scholarship covers tuition fees (at EU rates) and provides a maintenance grant of €7000 per year for up to four years, subject to academic performance. The successful candidate will be expected to contribute to the tutorial teaching of the department.

Applications should include (a) a research proposal (5 pages maximum); (b) copies of academic transcripts; (c) a CV or resume (3 pages maximum); and (d) one academic reference. The closing date for applications is 1 May 2013.

Applications should be sent to with the subject line ‘EU Politics PhD Scholarship’. Letters of recommendations should be emailed directly by the academic referee.

For further information, please contact


Irish EU Presidency article in Government Gazette

Government Gazette, a "quarterly magazine which provides quality analytical and politically neutral coverage of the leading institutions and policy makers in the European Union, its cities and regions", has asked me to contribute an article to its section about the "Irish EU Presidency". The article has been published in the magazine's October edition and is available online here. 

EUPOL dataset updated to 2012

Version 4 of the European Policy-Making Dataset (EUPOL) is now available for download. The data have been updated to include all decision-making processes initiated in 2012.

BJPS article on Council coalition building online

My paper on Coalition-Building and Consensus in the Council of the European Union has been pre-published by the British Journal of Political Science as part of their FirstView online service.


Although qualified-majority voting is possible, member states in the Council of the European Union
(EU) still adopt most policies by consensus. The agent-based model of coalition building in multilateral
negotiations presented here addresses this puzzle. The model demonstrates that consensual decisions may
emerge as an unintended by-product of government representatives’ desire to form blocking coalitions.
A qualitative case study demonstrates the plausibility of the model’s assumptions and resulting coalitionbuilding
dynamics. Moreover, a quantitative test shows that the model’s predictions correspond closely
to the observed consensus rates. Finally, computational experiments predict a positive effect of the voting
threshold but no effect of increases in membership on winning coalition size, which has important
practical implications for institutional design and enlargement policy.

Book on Council committee decision-making published

My book on 'Bureaucrats as Law-makers: Committee decision-making in the EU Council of Ministers' has been published with Routledge now. Further details about the book can be found on the publisher's website. Members of UACES can buy the book at a heavily discounted prize of £25.

From the back cover:

The Council of Ministers is one of the most powerful institutions of the European Union (EU) and plays a major role in the European policy-making process. Drawing on formal theory and combining quantitative and qualitative methods in an innovative fashion, this book provides novel insights into the role of national bureaucrats in legislative decision-making of the Council of the EU.

The book examines and describes the Council of Ministers’ committee system and its internal decision-making process. Relying on a wide quantitative dataset as well as six detailed case studies in the policy areas of Agriculture, Environment, and Taxation, it provides a comprehensive and systematic assessment of the extent to which national bureaucrats act as law-makers in the Council. It also examines the degree to which theories on collective decision-making, delegation, and international socialization can account for variation in the involvement of bureaucrats. Investigating how often and why national officials in working parties and committees, rather than ministers, make legislative decisions in the EU, this book addresses the implications of bureaucratic influence for the democratic legitimacy of Council decision-making. The author finds that ministers play a generally more important role in legislative decision-making than often assumed, alleviating, to some extent, concerns about the democratic legitimacy of Council decisions.

Bureaucrats as Law-Makers will be of interest to students, scholars and practitioners in the field of European Union politics and policy-making, legislative decision-making, intergovernmental negotiations and international socialization.



MPSA panel on EU Legislative Politics

Together with Bjorn Hoyland from the University of Oslo, I organized and acted as discussant for a panel on 'Legislative Politics in the European Union' at this year's Annual Conference of the Midwest Political Science Association (MPSA) in Chicago. The panel line-up with summaries of the papers is given below and some of the presented papers are available for download from the online archive of the conference.

8-1 Legislative Politics in the European Union
Date: Friday, April 13 10:25 am
Chair(s): Heike Kluever, Nuffield College University of Oxford

  • Non-linear Growth Effects of Public Debt: New Evidence for the Euro Area.
    Panel threshold estimation on EMU countries to determine optimal debt levels, after which the impact of debt on growth becomes harmful. Such optimal levels can be supported and lie between 65% and 95% debt to GDP level.
    Anja Baum, University of Cambridge
    Cristina Checherita, European Central Bank
    Philipp Rother, (ECB) European Central Bank
  • Domestic Scrutiny of European Union Politics: Between Whistle Blowing and Opposition Control.
    This paper explains why some European law proposals are subject to scrutiny by national parliaments while others go unchecked. We compiled a dataset which comprises scrutiny information for more than ten member states from 2006-2011.
    Daniel Finke, University of Heidelberg
  • The Scheduling Power of the EU Presidency.
    This study investigates whether the Presidency is able to direct the political attention of the Council by emphasizing and de-emphasizing policy issues, relying on new data about the meeting frequency of working parties between 2000-2010.
    Frank Haege, University of Limerick
  • Allocation of Committee Reports in the European Parliament.
    We analyze the allocation of committee reports in the EP. We find a two-stage process where MEPs self-select into the pool of potential candidates and party loyalty determines the share of reports allocated to the candidates in the pool.
    Bjorn Hoyland, University of Oslo
  • Encouraging Party Cohesion in the European Parliament: Party Group Coordinators as a Decentralized Whipping System.
    The European Parliament is a harsh environment for political parties. In this paper we argue that a group of, relatively unknown actors, party group coordinators, provide a key part of the puzzle of political group institutionalization in the EP.
    Gail McElroy, Trinity College, Dublin
    Antoine Yoshinaka, American University
    Shaun Bowler, University of California, Riverside

Frank Haege, University of Limerick
Bjorn Hoyland, University of Oslo

Vincent Wright Memorial Prize for WEP article

The journal West European Politics has announced today that my 2011 article on 'Politicising Council Decision-making: The Effect of European Parliament Empowerment’ has been awarded the Vincent Wright Memorial Prize of that year for 'making a significant contribution to the study of comparative European politics'. Here's a link to the complete text of the announcement.

Recent trends in EU policy-making

Based on the updated version of the EUPOL dataset, which includes information up to and including 2011, I had a look at the European Commission’s recent policy-making activities (the underlying numbers, a few more graphs, and the do-files generating them can be found here). In general, the data point to a substantial increase in the number of documents submitted by the Commission last year as compared to 2010. With respect to non-binding policy documents, the increase is mainly due to the larger number of working papers submitted (up from 64 to 107), while the number of communications (up from 141 to 145) and reports (down from 165 to 159) remained largely stable (see Figure 1).

Figure 1: Number of non-binding policy documents by type of file (1976-2011)

With respect to legislative proposals, proposals for all types of acts have increased considerably in relative terms: the number of proposals for decisions almost doubled (up from 9 to 16), the number of directives increased by more than half (up from 30 to 46), and the number of regulations by about two thirds (up from 77 to 128). In absolute terms, the increase in the number of proposals for regulations was clearly by far the highest (see Figure 2).

Figure 2: Number of legislative proposals by type of file (1976-2011)

Not surprisingly, given the extension of the applicability of the codecision procedure to almost all policy areas by the Lisbon treaty, the overwhelming majority of legislative proposals in 2011 was processed through this procedure (now officially called the 'ordinary legislative procedure'). The number of codecision files increased from 108 in 2010 to 168 in 2011 and the number of consultation files increased from 8 to 22. Despite this growth, the latter number is still much lower than the 2009 number of consultation files of 98. However, the number of consultation files pre- and post-Lisbon might not be directly comparable. Over the last three years, PreLex indicates an increasing number of proposals that are submitted under a new ‘inter-institutional non-legislative procedure’ (more than 500 proposals already). According to a Kosmopolito blog post, this ‘NLE’ category covers all procedures that involve the EP but do not fall under the ordinary or special legislative procedures (i.e. the old assent and consultation procedures). Since no explicit distinction between legislative and non-legislative acts existed before the Lisbon treaty came into force, I would not be surprised if some of the files now classified as being decided through the non-legislative procedure used to be classifed as being decided through the consultation procedure. Any comments or insights shedding some light on this question would be very welcome.

Number of legislative proposals by type of procedure (1976-2011)

Figure 3: Number of legislative proposals by type of procedure (1976-2011)

All in all, the number of legislative proposals introduced by the Commission seems to have rebounded from all-time lows in 2009 and 2010. The relative inactivity in terms of legislative proposals might have had something to do with the uncertainty surrounding the entry into force of the Lisbon treaty and/or subsequent adjustments to the new rule book. It will be interesting to see whether the strong increase in 2011 marks the start of a more ambitious legislative programme for the remaining term of the second Barroso Commission. 

EUPOL dataset updated to 2011

The third version of the EUPOL dataset covers the time period up to and including the year 2011. To ensure the smooth extraction of the information from the PreLex webpages, I had to make minor changes to the python extraction script (the two changes are documented in the script). Both the updated dataset and the updated Python scripts are available for download from the EUPOL page. I will also update the Excel file with descriptive statistics and graphs soon and discuss interesting developments in a future blog post.

Citation statistics on Google Scholar author profile

A list of publications with citation statistics is now available on my Google Scholar author profile.

Chance-corrected measures of foreign policy similarity for EUGene

The dataset of chance-corrected measures of foreign policy similarity as described in the Political Analysis article 'Choice or Circumstance? Adjusting Measures of Foreign Policy Similarity for Chance Agreement' can now be integrated into Bennett and Stam's data management software EUGene. To incorporate the dataset as 'user data', download the EUGene configuration file and the dataset in CSV format from the FPSIM page and save it into the local "user data sets" subdirectory (normally "c:\program files\eugene\user data sets").

EUPOL dataset description published in European Union Politics

The description of the 'European Union Policy-Making dataset' (EUPOL) has been published as a forum article in European Union Politics. The supporting information in the online appendix and the full replication archive for the data manipulations and analyses reported in the article can be accessed here. An updated version of the EUPOL dataset can be downloaded here.

Updated version of EUPOL dataset available

A new version of the European Policy-Making (EUPOL) dataset is now available. Version 2 of EUPOL includes all decision-making processes documented in the Commission's PreLex database as of 7 May 2011. Thus, the new version adds information for about one more year. Some summary statistics of the dataset are available here.

Biology and Political Science panel at ECPR conference

Together with Dimiter Toshkov (Leiden University), I organised and chaired a panel on Biology and Political Science at this year's ECPR conference in Reykjavik. Some of the presented papers are available for download here

Panel abstract
Recent years have seen a growing cross-fertilization between the natural and social sciences. The increasing convergence of conceptual, theoretical, and methodological toolkits (e.g. network analysis, game theory, and statistical models) fosters the generation of such interdisciplinary insights. This panel is devoted to work that crosses the disciplinary boundaries between biology and political science; either by applying biological theories and methods to political science problems or by applying political theories and methods to topics in biology. Examples of such work include, but are not limited to, the following topics: Population ecology approaches to the study of political institutions and organizations; evolutionary dynamics of the diffusion of policies and ideas; genetic effects on political attitudes; evolutionary causes of international and domestic conflict; collective decision-making in animal groups; development and maintenance of social institutions in animal groups; evolution of cooperation and conflict in general.

Papers and authors

  • Evolutionary Institutionalism – Evolutionary Concepts in Institutional Analysis
    Cathleen  BOCHMANN (Dresden University of Technology)
  • From Cells to States: A Unifying Framework of Social Relativity
    Shade  SHUTTERS (Arizona State University)
    Matus  HALAS (Charles University)
  • Independence and Interdependence: Lessons from the Hive
    Christian  LIST (London School of Economics and Political Science)
    Adrian  VERMEULE (Harvard University)
  • The Physiological Basis of Political Temperaments
    John  HIBBING (University of Nebraska - Lincoln)
    John  ALFORD (Rice University)
    Kevin  SMITH (University of Nebraska - Lincoln)
  • Understanding Emotional Priming Effects through Psychophysiology
    Peter  FOLEY (California Institute of Technology)
    R. Michael  ALVAREZ (California Institute of Technology)
     Ralph  ADOLPHS (California Institute of Technology)
  • Do Psychological Traits Mediate the Relationship Between Genes and Political Participation? (tabled paper)
    Christopher  DAWES (University of California - San Diego)

Presentation of agent-based model of decision-making duration at ECPR conference

I presented a paper on 'The Duration of Multilateral Negotiations in the Council of the European Union' at this year's ECPR General Conference in Reykjavik (25-27 August). The paper formed part of the Computer Simulation and Agent Based Modelling in Political Science panel. The mainly theoretical paper describes an agent-based model of coalition-building that allows the generation of direct hypotheses about the effects of preference configurations, impatience levels, and group size on decision-making duration. The presentation and paper is available here.

Measurement article published in Political Analysis

My article on 'Choice or Circumstance? Adjusting Measures of Foreign Policy Similarity for Chance Agreement' has now been published in Political Analysis. Political Analysis is a leading methodology journal with the highest five-year ISI impact factor in Political Science. The article is available here.

A replication archive and datasets including all measures of foreign policy similarity discussed in the paper are available on the Measures of Foreign Policy Similarity (FPSIM) page. 

Measurement article in Political Analysis available online now

My article on 'Choice or Circumstance? Adjusting Measures of Foreign Policy Similarity for Chance Agreement' is now available as online pre-publication on the website of Political Analysis

A replication archive and datasets including all measures of foreign policy similarity discussed in the paper are available on the Measures of Foreign Policy Similarity (FPSIM) page. 

Measures of Foreign Policy Similarity (FPSIM) data available for download

To accompany the article 'Choice or Circumstance? Adjusting Measures of Foreign Policy Similarity for Chance Agreement', which will be published in Political Analysis, the new FPSIM page provides a number of dyadic datasets for download with different measures of foreign policy similarity. 

Measurement paper accepted for publication in Political Analysis

My paper on 'Choice or Circumstance? Adjusting Measures of Foreign Policy Similarity for Chance Agreement (12)' has been accepted for publication in the methodology journal Political Analysis. According to the latest ISI Journal Citation Reports, Political Analysis is the journal with the highest 5-year impact factor in Political Science.

A replication archive and datasets including all measures of foreign policy similarity discussed in the paper are available on the Measures of Foreign Policy Similarity (FPSIM) page.

EUP article on EUPOL data available online now

My article presenting the European Union Policy-Making Data-Set (EUPOL) is now available as online-prepublication from European Union Politics. The dataset itelf is available on the EUPOL webpage.

New MA programmes in European Studies at UL

The Department of Politics and Public Administration has launched two new MA programmes in the area of European Studies. Applications are now accepted for the academic year 2011/12. A limited number of tuition fee waiver scholarships are also available.

MA in European Union Politics and Law

The MA in European Union Politics and Law is an interdiciplinary programme offered in cooperation with UL's School of Law. It is designed to provide students with a clear and comprehensive understanding of how the European Union works. The EU and its member states form a political and administrative system governed and held together by the rule of law. Therefore, combining insights from law and political science, this interdisciplinary programme offers a unique approach to the study of the EU and its increasingly complex interrelationships with member state governments and administrations. The programme aims to provide the substantive knowledge required of students who intent to pursue a career in the European institutions and other EU-related organisations in Ireland or internationally. In addition, the programme aims to foster students' transferable skills, emphasising research methods and other job-relevant competences, which are attractive to employers in a wide range of occupational areas. 
Further information

MA in European Politics and Governance

The MA in European Politics and Governance is designed to provide students with an advanced understanding of how modern societies are governed through the complex interaction between public and private actors at different levels of government. The ability of national governments to determine domestic policy outcomes is increasingly limited by interdependencies with local and European levels of government. Furthermore, the distinction between governmental and non-governmental organisations is increasingly blurred when the formulation and implementation of policies relies heavily on the cooperation of private actors. Taking a multi-level and governance perspective, the programme offers a distinctive approach to the study of politics and policy-making. The programme aims to provide the substantive knowledge required of students who intent to pursue a career in governmental and non-governmental organisations at the local, national, or European level. In addition, the programme aims to foster students' transferable skills, emphasising research methods and other job-relevant competences, which are attractive to employers in a wide range of occupational areas.
Further information

EUSA presentation on Council's policy-agenda

The biennial conference of the European Union Studies Association (EUSA) took place on 3-5 March in Boston. I presented a paper on the Council's policy-agenda, relying on a new, comprehensive dataset on the timing and length of Council working party meetings between 2000 and 2008 to map the allocation of the Council's political attention across policy-areas and over time. The paper and the presentation are available on my research page.

WEP article on Council politicisation published now

My article on 'Politicizing Council Decision-Making: The Effect of EP Empowerment' has now been published by West European Politics. The article is part of a special issue on 'Linking Inter- and Intra-institutional Change in the European Union' edited by Daniel Naurin and Anne Rasmussen.

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