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Getting Things Done, if..: Effects of Resource-based Constraints on the Council Presidency in EU Legislative Politics

Valentin Schröder
Universität Bremen
Valentin Schröder
Universität Bremen
Open Panel

Abstract

The role of the EU council presidency has been subject to ever closer scientific scrutiny in recent years. Quantitative research has notably concentrated on explaining outcomes of legislative processes in terms of realization of preferences of the government in office at different stages of decision-making. Still, if there is a (positive) effect of holding this office and given the procedural powers related to it, one would also expect a government’s actions to reverberate into the course of the related decision-making process as a whole. In the present paper I address this issue along two dimensions: the willingness of a government in office to reach a decision in council on a certain policy proposal; and its capability of doing so. Willingness is measured as the degree to which outcomes reflect this government’s preferences according to data from the DEU dataset. Capability is addressed as a government’s material resources in terms of GDP. I conduct a series of logistic regressions on the DEU data, additionally controlling for importance of an issue to the government in office and for involvement and policy positions of the EP. I find a relationship to indeed exist between willingness and a decision being taken in council, but conditional upon the capability of the government in office. EP involvement is found to affect the course of a process under just these conditions, but to the detriment of the realization of EP preferences. Findings thus point towards the presidency to matter as an institution in EU legislative politics, but only under considerable resource-based constraints on the government in office.