EU Politics

Blog entries related to research in European Union Politics

'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.

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."

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.

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


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.

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

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.

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.

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