Explaining legislative decision-making in the European Union

Robert Thomson, Madeleine O. Hosli

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This book examines how legislation is made in the European Union (EU). Taking decisions in the European Union requires overcoming controversy and disagreement. European decision-makers' ability to resolve controversy has been tested by three developments. First, the number of member states increased from six to 25, with the prospect of further enlargement in the near future. Second, changes to the formal decision-making procedures increased the institutional power of the European Parliament. Third, the European Union expanded its involvement in policy areas from its focus on the internal market and freedom of movement across borders to include economic and monetary union, environmental policy, competition, and social policy among others. There are numerous recent and high-profile examples of the challenges European decision-makers face in reaching political agreements amid controversy. One such example concerned the question of whether Germany should be given an official warning under the Stability Pact for its excessive budget deficit. Germany was not allowed to vote on the proposal to give such a warning, since the warning was directed against itself. Nonetheless, with the help of the Italian Presidency, it managed to turn unanimous support for the proposed warning into a vote against the proposal. The European Commission opposed this decision, and successfully overturned it in the European Court of Justice. This outcome, and the way it was achieved, challenged the view that important decisions need the support of all member states, even when this is not formally required.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe European Union Decides
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages24
ISBN (Electronic)9780511492082
ISBN (Print)0521861896, 9780521861892
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2006
Externally publishedYes

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