Researchers at UCD


James Cross

Lecturer/Assistant Professor

School Of Politics & Int Relations



I am a Lecturer in the School of Politics and International Relations at University College Dublin. Broadly speaking, my research agenda addresses various aspects of international and comparative politics, with a specific focus on policy making in the European Union (EU). My current research with colleagues at the Insight Centre for Data Analytics here in UCD focuses on extracting substantive insight into EU politics from official online records. We investigate the evolution of the plenary agenda of the European Parliament over time. The results of that project can be explored here and the associated research paper is Greene & Cross (2017). We also utilise text analysis and data visualisation methods alongside social network analysis and other statistical tool to investigate how the EU legislates and how members of the European Parliament use communication tools like Twitter to communicate their activities to the public.
In a second ongoing collaborative project, we have developed an algorithm that allows for the efficient and replicable large-scale collection and analysis of data relating to the EU legislative process from a series of online databases. This research applies methods adapted from bio-informatics and natural language processing to analyse a large corpus of legislative texts in the EU (Cross & Hermansson 2017). These new methods and data will be used to provide insight into patterns of conflict and cooperation between the Council, the Commission, and the Parliament in the EU policy-making process. These questions lie at the heart of the European integration project, and investigating the manner in which patterns of conflict and cooperation between these institutional actors have changed as the EU has evolved over time is central to understanding this EU policy-making process. The methods developed when studying the legislative process in the EU also have the potential to be adapted to other legislative bodies, and further effort in this direction is envisaged as part of the broader research project, starting with the replication of important existing studies in comparative politics.

My post-doctoral work at the ETH in Zurich and as a Max Weber and Jean Monnet Fellow at the EUI in Florence developed upon my Ph.D. work in a number of ways. I examined the role of transparency and censorship in the EU Policy-making process, specifically looking at how different levels of transparency affect negotiator position taking during negotiations (Cross 2013b). I applied insights gained from formal theoretical models of committee decision making to explain how the negotiation behaviour of Member States is affected by the levels of transparency applied to different negotiation contexts. I have also considered the determinants of legislative transparency within the Council of Ministers, as this is a central concern for those concerned with the democratic legitimacy of EU decision making (Cross 2014Cross & Boelstad 2014). 

My Ph.D. thesis examined the legislative decision-making process at different levels of negotiation within the Council of Ministers of the European Union. In particular, it focused upon how Member State officials exert their influence over the legislative process, through interventions made over the course of negotiations, and it explored different theory-driven explanations of Member State behaviour and legislative decision making. To date, two publications in leading international journals have resulted from this work. The first of these (Cross 2012) shows that there are important differences in the negotiation strategies used by Member State officials within the Council. This study found that a series of factors, including differences in Member State voting power, the potential for Member States to form coalitions, and the influence of legislative rules over the decision-making process, all impact upon Member State intervention behaviour. A second study (Cross 2013a) found that Member States' legislative bargaining success within the Council could be explained by a combination of agency, luck and the institutional environment within which the Member States negotiate. The data used in these studies was part of the efforts to extend the 'Decision-making in the European Union' dataset (see here for details).




Year 2006 Institution: University of Bristol
Qualification: MSc Subject:
Year 2011 Institution: Trinity College Dublin
Qualification: PhD Subject:
Year 2005 Institution: University College Cork
Qualification: BA Subject:



Peer Reviewed Journals

James P. Cross and Henrik Hermansson (2017) 'Legislative amendments and informal politics in the European Union: A text reuse approach'. European Union Politics, . Available Online [Details]
Jørgen Bølstad and James P. Cross (2016) 'Not all Treaties are Created Equal: The Effects of Treaty Changes on Legislative Efficiency in the EU'. Journal of Common Market Studies, . Available Online [Details]
Derek Greene & James P. Cross (2017) 'Exploring the Political Agenda of the European Parliament Using a Dynamic Topic Modeling Approach'. Political Analysis, . [Details]
Cross, James P. and Bolstad, Jorgen (2015) 'Openness and censorship in the European Union: An interrupted time series analysis'. European Union Politics, 16 (2):216-240. Available Online [DOI] [Details]
James P. Cross (2014) 'The seen and the unseen in legislative politics: Explaining censorship in the legislative process of the European Union'. Journal of European Public Policy, 21 (2):268-285. Available Online [Details]
James P. Cross (2013) 'Striking a pose: Transparency and position taking in the Council of the European Union'. European Journal of Political Research, 52 (3):291-315. Available Online [Details]
James P. Cross (2013) 'Everyone¿s a winner (almost): Bargaining success in the Council of Ministers of the European Union'. European Union Politics, 14 (1):70-94. Available Online [Details]
James P. Cross (2012) 'Interventions and negotiation in the Council of Ministers of the European Union'. European Union Politics, 13 (1):47-69. Available Online [Details]
Thomson, R., Arregui, J., Leuffen, D., Costello, R., Cross, J., Hertz, R., & Jensen, T (2012) 'A new dataset on decision making in the European Union before and after the 2004 and 2007 enlargements (DEUII)'. Journal of European Public Policy, 19 (4):604-622. Available Online [Details]

Conference Publications

Igor Brigadir, Derek Greene, James P. Cross and Pádraig Cunningham (2016) Dimensionality Reduction and Visualisation Tools for Voting Records Irish Conference on Artificial Intelligence and Cognitive Science Available Online [Details]
Greene, Derek; Cross, James P. (2015) Unveiling the Political Agenda of the European Parliament Plenary: A Topical Analysis ACM Web Science 2015, 28 June - 1 July, 2015 Oxford, UK Available Online [Details]


Research Interests

Research Projects

Sponsor : University College Dublin (UCD)
Title : PADEMIA research funds
Start Date / End Date : 01-OCT-16 / 30-SEP-18
Sponsor : University College Dublin (UCD)
Title : OBRSS Research Support Scheme
Start Date / End Date : 01-NOV-16 / 31-OCT-20
Sponsor : Dept. of the Taoiseach
Title : #EUDemocracy
Start Date / End Date : 20-MAR-14 / 31-MAR-14
Sponsor : Enterprise Ireland (EI)
Title : A Minimum Editing Distance approach to tracking political Influence in Negotiations (AMEnDINg)
Start Date / End Date : 15-MAY-14 / 14-FEB-15
Sponsor : Irish Research Council (IRC)
Title : Towards a Research Network on Data Mining European Union Politics Online
Start Date / End Date : 01-MAR-15 / 30-NOV-15
Sponsor : University College Dublin (UCD)
Title : MEPs of a feather tweet together: Exploring the use of Twitter as a communication tool in the European Parliament
Start Date / End Date : 01-APR-16 / 30-SEP-17

Recent Postgraduates

  • Dr. Deirdre Tinney (PhD defended 2015). "Ties that Bind: Policy Framing, Path Dependence, and Family Law in the European Union".



Modules Coordinated

201700   POL30490     Politics: Advanced Seminar in Politics 1
201700   POL40970     Politics: Politics European Governance
201700   INRL20160     International Relations: Introduction to EU Politics
201700   POL30500     Politics: Advanced Seminar in Politics 2
201700   POL30350     Politics: Politics and Policy of the EU
201700   POL41660     Politics: Principles of Int. Politics