Title: Models of Decision-Making in the Council of the European Union (PDF 4.7MB)

Author(s): Andreas Warntjen

Paper number and date: WP 09-06, May 2009

Abstract: The Council of the EU is a crucial actor in EU legislative decision-making. However, how its reaches decisions is subject to considerable debate. Constructivists argue that the dominant mode is norm-guided behaviour and deliberation, pointing to the informal ‘culture of consensus’. Scholars working in a rational choice tradition assume that member states strive to maximize their utility and move outcomes as close as possible to their ideal positions, either by using their power in bargaining or by arranging beneficial exchanges of votes. Several bargaining and exchange models have been advanced by this literature. This paper explores the logics underlying these different conceptualizations of negotiations in the Council of the EU. Furthermore, it discusses the interpretation of the existing empirical results and tasks for future research. Due to observational equivalence empirical findings are often inconclusive.

Keywords: Council of the European Union, constructivism, rational choice, modes of decisionmaking, culture of consensus, observational equivalence

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