Conference Agenda

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Session Overview
Panel 303: Processes of Decision-Making in the EU - Motivations, Consensus and Contestation
Monday, 02/Sep/2019:
3:00pm - 4:30pm

Session Chair: Francesca Batzella, University of Hertfordshire
Location: Room 12.04

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Patterns of Consensus-seeking and Representation among Officials in the Council of the European Union

Kamil Ławniczak

University of Warsaw

Consensus in the Council of the European Union means that most issues are decided without any recorded opposition. Constructivist explanations of this phenomenon usually emphasise the importance of informal norms, which encourage state representatives in committees and working groups to conduct their part of negotiations according to the standards of compromise and restraint. However, if compromise reached at the lower tiers of the Council structure is to be accepted by national ministers, another mechanism need also to apply: state representatives have to convince their superiors to the agreement they have reached. Effectively, rather than just representing their capitals in one of the Council’s bodies, they engage in what may be called “reversed representation”, speaking to their political principals on behalf of their colleagues.

Both elements require the socialisation of certain norms and behaviours among national representatives who work in the Council. During the first years of membership in the EU, the officials from Poland were often singled out in their colleagues’ recollections as significantly more resistant to socialisation of such rules of conduct than officials from other new member states. Therefore, Polish officials could be seen as a “least likely” case of the phenomena described above.

This paper will present the results of theory-testing process tracing research. It will describe how the relevant causal mechanisms can be conceptualised and operationalised. It will then show the results of testing the existence of their observable manifestations in a material gathered through in-depth interviews with Council officials from Poland.

Consensus and Contestation along the Legislative-executive Cycle of EU Policy-making

Ana Mar Fernández-Pasarín, Nuria Font

Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona

How consistent is contestation along the EU policy cycle? Existing research has abundantly examined patterns of conflict in legislative policy-making both within and between the Council and the European Parliament. In addition, attention has been paid to the modes of decision and conflict in comitology. This paper builds a bridge between these two research agendas. Based on a dataset merging data on final legislative votes in the Council and the European Parliament, and on the associated voting procedures in comitology during the 2010-2018 period, the paper poses the question of whether and under what conditions contestation (or consensus) is stable along the legislative-executive stages. To address this question, we test hypotheses derived from the literature on inter-institutional politics in EU policy-making. The paper is organized as follows. First, we present the theoretical framework and the main hypotheses. Second, we describe the data and methods employed in the analysis. Third, we measure contestation in both the legislative and executive stages of policy-making and identify patterns of continuity between both stages. Finally, we test our hypotheses to provide accounts for consistency in contestation along the EU policy cycle.

Cooperative Competition in International Relations: a Coopetition Theory of EU Integration

Paulina Bury1, Tannelie Blom2

1Council of the European Union; 2Maastricht University

The paper proposes the theory of coopetition as an alternative to classic European integration theories, such as Haas’ neofunctionalism or Moravscik’s liberal intergovernmentalism. Coopetition theory, as developed by Nalebuff and Brandenburger in the framework of business science, rests on a premise of simultaneous competition and cooperation of involved economic actors. In the case of EU studies, one can assume that member states engage in coopetition while creating supranational policies that compete with national policies.

In recent years, European integration lost its spill-over dynamics, with member states being increasingly in thralls to nationalistic inclinations influencing their home politics. This means that particular, oftentimes conflicting, interests of member states are high on their agendas. Yet, the EU remains a venue where strategic interests of all member states converge. A crucial element of coopetition is that member states remain rivals to each other, while engaging in mutually beneficial cooperation. Additionally, member states and the whole of the EU, compete with other countries and regions of the world.

The paper is constructed in the following manner: first, it sets out coopetition theory as proposed in business literature. Secondly, coopetition theory is translated into the language of political science and adapted for the needs of EU integration theories. In particular, the roles of different policy actors and stakeholders are defined. Finally, the proposed theory is illustrated by examples of policy areas where it can be applied. This includes, but is not limited to, migration policy, research policy, environmental policy. The paper ends with a conclusion showing the added value of the coopetition theory in the field of international relations, and, in particular, European integration studies.

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