Legislative Decision-Making in the European Union Before and After Enlargement: Explaining Network Ties in an International Legislature
35 Pages Posted: 1 Aug 2011 Last revised: 4 Aug 2011
Date Written: 2011
This study examines cooperation networks in legislative decision-making in the European Union, and asks why certain pairs of member states cooperate more intensely than others. The analysis focuses on decision-making before and after the recent historic enlargements of the EU. Signaling theory and network theory provide the theoretical framework for this study. These theories make key propositions regarding the formation of political ties and have been applied to study politics in other political systems, notably the US Congress. Some variants of signaling theory posit that political actors are more likely to form a relationship if they have similar policy preferences. Signaling theory therefore explains variation in network ties with an individual-level variable. Network theory predicts that the likelihood of a tie between two actors depends on the presence of certain relationships with other actors. For instance, two actors are more likely to cooperate if they share many transitive linkages with other actors. Network theory therefore explains the occurrence of network ties among actors with characteristics of the network in which those actors are embedded.
Our study integrates and analyzes two new datasets on legislative decision-making in the EU. The first dataset contains information on cooperation networks in the Council of Ministers, the most powerful legislative body in the EU. This dataset contains information on the presence of informal cooperation within each pair of member states in six different committees in the Council of Ministers (Coreper I and five working groups). The network data refer to three different time points: 2003, when the EU had 15 member states, 2006, when the EU had 25 member states, and 2009, when the EU had enlarged to 27 member states. The second dataset contains information on the policy positions of each of the member states on 331 controversial issues raised by 125 of the most important legislative proposals from the period 1999-2009. The preference data are used to construct measures of the similarity of member states’ preference profiles in the policy areas dealt with by relevant committees.
Keywords: network analysis, European Union, legislative decision-making
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