Institutional Change in Europe: Co‐Decision and Comitology Transformed*

17 Pages Posted: 10 Feb 2012

Date Written: March 2012


This article explains how institutional rules change after they have been established in two important areas of European decision‐making: co‐decision and comitology. It shows how legislation under co‐decision was transformed into fast‐track legislation and why the Parliament gradually – between treaty reforms – gained more institutional power in comitology. The rational choice institutionalist explanation applied here focuses on the efficiency increasing/transaction cost saving aspects of interstitial institutional change, but also on the question of who gains and who loses in power under specific rules and how power may subsequently be shifted. The hypotheses derived from the theoretical considerations are subject to empirical (dis)confirmation on the basis of quantitative and qualitative empirical data collected on co‐decision and delegation over time. The conclusion summarizes the argument and explores the applicability of the explanations to two other polities of regional integration: North Atlantic Free Trade Association (Nafta) and Mercosur (the Common Southern Market).

Suggested Citation

Héritier, Adrienne, Institutional Change in Europe: Co‐Decision and Comitology Transformed* (March 2012). JCMS: Journal of Common Market Studies, Vol. 50, pp. 38-54, 2012, Available at SSRN: or

Adrienne Héritier (Contact Author)

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