We assess the accuracy of procedural and bargaining models in predicting the outcomes of the reforms of the economic governance of the European Union (EU) that took place between 1997 and 2013. These negotiations were characterized by high costs of failure. We confirm the accuracy and robustness of the compromise model, but a procedural model with a costly reference point performs well, indicating that misestimation of the no-agreement cost may be a reason for its commonly reported poorer accuracy. However, this model is more sensitive to measurement errors. We also show how both models contribute to understanding bargaining success and how the conditional influence of the European Parliament should not be ignored. We conclude by discussing the implications of these results for our understanding of the EU.
Franchino F and Mariotto C (2022) Bargaining outcomes and success in EU economic governance reforms. Political Science Research and Methods 10(2). 2021/07/15 ed. Cambridge University Press: 227–242. DOI: 10.1017/psrm.2021.26.
In the European Union, states can distribute enforcement prerogatives between a supranational agency, over which they exercise equal influence, and a Council of ministers, where power resources mostly vary by country size. What shapes attitudes towards different enforcement designs? States at greater risk of noncompliance should eschew deeper cooperation and prefer procedures over which they can exercise more influence. Employing an original data set of positions on relevant contested issues during the negotiations over fiscal governance rules from 1997 to 2012, we show that governments at greater risk of noncompliance prefer greater discretion and, if they have higher voting power, more Council involvement in enforcement. These factors only partially explain positions on Commission empowerment. Given their greater indeterminacy, attitudes are also shaped by national public opinion.
Franchino F and Mariotto C (2021) Noncompliance risk, asymmetric power and the design of enforcement of the European economic governance. European Union Politics 22(4). SAGE Publications: 591–610. DOI: 10.1177/14651165211023832.
Several studies have reported a relationship between governments’ behaviour in the EU Council and public opinion. However, doubts remain about which mechanisms drive this relationship. We argue that governments align their behaviour with public opinion to forestall future electoral sanctions (rational anticipation). To test this, we deduce hitherto untested observable implications of rational anticipation which suggest that governments’ responsiveness to public opinion depends on national-level electoral competitiveness. Using DEU modules I-III and an original empirical measure of electoral competitiveness, we ascertain whether governments adjust their responsiveness as: (1) the expected time period to upcoming elections decreases, and (2) the probability of losing their position in the party system in the next election changes. Our results provide evidence that government parties rationally anticipate risks related to their position in the party system but not to early elections. These findings have implications for our understanding of representation in the Council.
Franchino F, Kayser MA and Wratil C (2022) Electoral competitiveness and responsiveness: rational anticipation in the EU Council. Journal of European Public Policy 29(1). Routledge: 42–60. DOI: 10.1080/13501763.2021.1991986.
Transparency improves the relationship between citizens and politicians, but it could lead to posturing or pandering to public opinion. Politicians may therefore fail to adopt policies and reach valuable compromises. In a recent research, Sara Hagemann and Fabio Franchino show that the drawbacks of increased transparency in the EU Council of Ministers have not materialized. The European Union can afford to be more transparent.
Recent studies suggest there is a direct trade-off between transparency and efficiency in legislative politics. We challenge this conclusion and present a bargaining model where one particular kind of transparency – the publication of legislative records – works to overcome problems of incomplete information.
We also present empirical findings from legislative activities in the Council of the European Union from 1999 to 2014 and from 23 interviews with senior officials in Brussels. Our results show that increased transparency, in the form of publication of legislative records, does not lead to gridlock or prolonged negotiations.
On the contrary, recordings of governments’ positions help facilitate decision-making as they increase credibility of policy positions. This, in turn, lowers risk of negotiation failure and screens out marginal amendments.
The article is available here
Hagemann, Sara, and Fabio Franchino. “Transparency vs Efficiency? A Study of Negotiations in the Council of the European Union.” European Union Politics, (February 8, 2016) OnlineEarly. doi:10.1177/1465116515627017.
Franchino, Fabio and Camilla Mariotto (2013) ‘Explaining Negotiations in the Conciliation Committee‘, European Union Politics, 14.
The conciliation committee is the ultimate bicameral dispute settlement mechanism of the ordinary legislative procedure of the European Union. Who gets what, and why, in this committee? We argue that its institutional setup is biased in favour of the Council of Ministers. Employing the Wordfish algorithm, we show that the joint text is more similar to the Council common position than to the parliamentary reading in almost 70 percent of the dossiers that reached conciliation up to February 2012. The European Parliament is more successful in the post-Amsterdam period, when the Council decides by qualified majority voting, the rapporteur comes from a large party, the European Commission is supportive, and when national administrations are more involved in the implementation process than the Commission.