All FSI Projects

Principles of European Integration: Treaty revisions in multi-stage two-level processes


Thomas Koenig
Principal Investigator

This project explores the revision of the treaties of the European Union using a multi-stage two-level-analysis. For the current revision of the Nice treaty, there are inferences between the domestic and European level, most obviously when referendums are carried. This time, a convention made a proposal for revision which was discussed by the member states at intergovernmental conferences (IGCs), and this project examines how member states have formed their positions on the treaty revision in inter-ministerial coordination. The analysis will indicate the degree of member-state unitariness at the IGC, and we will ask whether the degree of unitariness explains their negotiation performance and outcome capacity. We expect that non-unitariness makes reaching outcomes more likely, but ratification is more difficult because neither parties nor citizens support outcomes which diverge from their initial positions. From a comparative view this project also explores preference formation in all member states in the preparatory, negotiation and ratification stages. It shows how closely related governmental and supranational negotiators are to the peoples' preferences by a two-level analysis. We wish to answer two main questions: How is the process of treaty revision carried out? How can we explain the outcome of this process?

Regarding the current state of research, the project relaxes assumptions on unitary member-state preferences and one-shot processes of treaty revision. It also examines the preparatory stage of agenda-setting by the Convention, the following stage of inter-ministerial coordination, the negotiation stage at the IGC, and ratification in member states. It is expected that the more non-unitary a member state government is, the more likely is an IGC agreement. However, it is also expected that when more alternatives for an agreement exist, their successful ratification is more endangered. Using a multi-pronged data gathering strategy, these hypotheses are tested. From a methodological point of view, the focus on treaty revision provides support for a multi-stage two-level character of the process, but it is still an ambitious empirical concern to measure the preferences of all the actors involved. For the preparatory stage, the project gathered data by expert interviews in the member states on the preferences of the representatives in the Convention and the ministers which were involved in the domestic preference formation process. For the negotiation stage, an additional internet survey helps to analyze the principal agent-relationship between member states and their governmental delegates, and for the ratification stage, data is provided by Eurobarometer and party manifestos which measure the party positions and populations' attitudes towards European integration. In general terms the project delivers a deeply routed understanding of the treaty revision in the EU in which all future administrative and political action in the EU will take place. On a theoretical level the project enhances our understanding of the conditions under which competencies will be delegated to higher political and/or administrative levels. 

Furthermore we seek to understand the design of decision rules for those delegated competencies as well as the dynamics of negotiations leading to delegation.