Conference Agenda

Panel 215: Working Practices in the EU Institutions
Monday, 02/Sep/2019:
1:10pm - 2:40pm

Session Chair: Anne Stevens
Location: THD Institute Room


Voting Behaviour in the European Parliament. Political Group Cohesion in EU Climate Policy-Making

Johannes Müller Gómez1,2

1Université de Montréal; 2Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München

The high number of national parties and of nations represented in the European Parliament make the EU’s assembly a unique institution. In spite of this heterogeneity, the voting cohesion of the parliamentary groups within the parliament has constantly increased in the last decades. Yet it is still lower than in most national contexts. The objective of this paper is to identify the determinants that lead to Members of the European Parliament (MEP) defecting from their political group’s line. To do so, this paper focusses on the crucial case of climate policy-making which has been informed by a particularly high degree of voting defection. By analysing the voting cohesion of political groups in the European Parliament in climate policy-making, this paper combines a fundamental aspect of the internal functioning of the parliament with one of the most decisive policy fields of our times.

The research question is as follows: Which circumstances compel Members of the European Parliament to defect from their political groups in EU climate policy-making?

Previous research has focused either on large-N studies or on the examination of single votes. Findings have been contradictory. This paper applies a two-step approach comprising a qualitative comparative analysis (QCA) to examine 27 cases of climate policy-making and process-tracing based on 15 expert interviews. QCA has not been exploited enough to analyse the internal functioning of the European Parliament. It helps to identify the necessary and sufficient conditions for voting defection whereas the semi-structured interviews serve to shed light on the inherent causal mechanisms.

Based on rational-choice assumptions, divergent positions of national parties within a political group are identified as a necessary condition for MEPs’ voting defection. Furthermore, I find new determinants of voting defection that have been ignored so far. First, the Council’s position on a legislative proposal has a decisive impact on the dynamics within the parliament. Second, the concrete coalition formation within the parliament strongly affects the voting behaviour of MEPs. These results importantly enlarge the previous literature on parliamentary group cohesion. This paper thus essentially contributes both to the state of the art of research on the European Parliament and on methodological questions on how to study the parliament and EU decision-making.

From Risk Regulation to Risk-based governance: comparing administrative practice in the UK and the EU

Stijn Smismans, Lorenzo Marvulli

Cardiff University, United Kingdom

In the last two decades the adoption of risk-based approaches to governance has been recognised as a highly significant development in the constitution of new regulatory regimes in European countries, whether specific to risk regulation or as part of broader ‘better regulation’ agendas. It has been argued in the literature that the application of risk-based approaches is uneven across national contexts. Risk-based governance is said to be more a feature of governance in the UK than in Germany or France. At the same time, it is said that the European Union has a homogenising impact due to its efforts to harmonise risk analysis procedures in Member States. Vice versa, the UK is often mentioned as a key influence in adopting better regulation practices at EU level.

In this paper, we compare the emerging style of risk-based governance in the United Kingdom and at the EU level. We argue that ‘risk’ has become a dominant frame of public governance across the board in the UK. From a concept that framed intervention in risk regulatory areas, risk has become an all pervasive concept of administrative practice in all policy areas. ‘Risk’ is no longer simply about assessing the likelihood of external hazards in traditional risk regulatory areas, aiming at the protection of health and safety, but becomes a concept that frames the internal administrative practices in all policy areas as a general principle of ‘better regulation’.

In the European Union, instead, such generalisation of risk-based governance has not emerged. ‘Risk’ remains a frame mainly used for dealing with external risk in risk regulatory areas, but it has not become the dominant frame of internal administrative practices more general. The argument that the UK has transferred its risk-based governance practice to the EU is thus not true. Even less, can it be argued that the EU is at the origin of generalised risk-based governance.

The paper is structured in two parts. In the first part, we analyse how risk-based governance has become a general feature of UK administrative practice.