Odd one out? The UK government’s voting behaviour in the EU Council
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EU legislative politics have changed dramatically during the past decade, and the British government has been a vocal and influential voice in shaping EU policies and processes. Based on an original dataset covering all legislative decisions by the EU governments since the enlargement to Central- and Eastern Europe in 2004, this paper provides detailed analysis to explain and elaborate on the British votes in the EU Council. It shows that the UK has opposed legislation more than other countries, and that this opposition has increased in recent years. However, advanced text analysis of formal policy statements from the Council records shows that the UK government should not be considered a policy outlier: a group of small- and medium-sized countries frequently side with the UK position in the Council records. They will likely miss the British position and outspoken voice as the EU embarks on a new phase in European integration. The results extend our existing knowledge about negotiation dynamics and voting behaviour in the Council, and are relevant to studies of other intergovernmental negotiation forums too.
Sara Hagemann is Associate Professor in European Politics at London School of Economics and Political Science, which she joined in September 2009. In her work, Sara draws on a mix of academic and policy experience as she has held research and policy positions in Brussels, Copenhagen and London. Sara has published extensively on European affairs, in particular on transparency and accountability in political systems, EU policy-making processes, EU treaty matters, the role of national parliaments, and the consequences of EU enlargements.
Before joining LSE, Sara worked as a Policy Analyst at the Brussels-based European Policy Centre (EPC), where she was responsible for its Political Europe programme. She has also held posts at the Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS), and in the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. She is the Co-Founder and General Editor of the LSE’s popular European Politics blog EUROPP, and Co-Founder and former Managing Director of VoteWatch.eu (www.votewatch.eu), an online initiative that monitors EU decision-makers’ voting records.
Sara has been awarded an ESRC Impact Accelerator Grant (from September 2016- April 2018) through the LSE’s Institute of Public Affairs. She was also an ESRC Senior Fellow as part of the UK in a Changing Europe programme in 2016, where she worked as an independent expert advisor to the UK government, parliament and public in the run-up to and aftermath of the UK’s referendum on EU membership.