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Party government and European integration: policy (dis)agreement in the EU-15?

Kyriaki Nanou
Durham University
Kyriaki Nanou
Durham University
Stéphanie Novak
Hertie School of Governance
Open Panel

Abstract

Over time, European integration has accelerated in scope and covers a growing range of policy areas. The agreements reached at the EU level, either in the European Council or the Council of Ministers, derive from a shared conviction among national governments that common aims can be reached by cooperation and harmonisation of policy-making or that collective action is more efficient in achieving goals. However, in a collective decision-making setting, certain issues are more important for particular governments than others and the outcomes of collective decision making are closer to the preferences of some than of others. Moreover, since policy outputs are the result of negotiations, party governments in the EU interact with and influence each other in terms of issue priorities and policy preferences. Studies of voting in the Council indicate that there is little evidence of significant disagreement among party governments over EU legislation. This paper aims to examine whether party governments across member states have different agenda priorities and thus reasons for disagreement when negotiating EU legislation; or whether EU decisions derive from converging preferences of party governments. Do EU decision-making mechanisms pose unequal challenges to the policy agendas of certain member states’ national traditions or political ideology while providing opportunities in other areas? To examine the impact of European integration on the policy agendas of party governments, we use Comparative Manifesto Project data for elections held between 1952 and 2005, across the 15 EU member states prior to the 2004 enlargement.