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.