From Coordination to Cooperation. Does Log-Rolling Guarantee the Union's Consensus?

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In this paper, EU decision-making is explained by an empirical log-rolling analysis considering multi-issue Commission proposals, member state unanimity or majority voting and parliamentary participation. Member states and the EP have different policy positions and vary in their saliency on the issues of Commission proposals, but EU decision-making is considered as a process of improving results by exchanging resources across issues. From a comparative view, the procedural analysis takes endogenously account of coordination effects of different political decision-making modes, of a median (absolute majority), modal (relative majority) and weighted mean (bargaining) modus operandi. However, even though it is likely that actors adapt their expectations under the shadow of majority voting in order to enhance the allocation of their resources on the coordination level, some actors may still prefer to maintain the status quo on the cooperation level. In this case, the fundamental question arises of whether the Union excludes a minority or even a majority of member states expecting their individual welfare to worsen. In this regard, the role of the Commission and the EP has to be closely scrutinized since both supranational actors may affect the welfare distribution among member states.

This study aims to shed light on four aspects of EU decision-making:

  • first, it considers EU decision- making in light of two basic components, actors' preferences and resources;
  • second, it presents different techniques of how to measure these components in the course of six Commission proposals;
  • third, the question of log-rolling is empirically examined and contrasted to competing explanations of EU coordination;
  • and finally, outcomes are assessed according to their welfare distribution among member states.

The findings show that log-rolling is applied to draft Commission multi-issue proposals. Compared to several null-models the analysis of exchanged control resources correctly predicts the drafting of more than 90% of all results. Moreover, the Union's constitutional moving towards majority system has empirical implications for EU decision-making: in spite of their status quo preference, a minority is sometimes outvoted by a qualified majority of member states. In these cases, the Commission and the EP play an active role when favoring the most extreme shift from the status quo.

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