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.

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.

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.



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