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An institutional critique of intergovernmentalism

  • Geoffrey Garrett (a1) and George Tsebelis (a2)

Abstract

Most intergovernmentalist analyses of European integration focus on treaty bargaining among European Union member governments. Recent articles also have examined everyday decision making through power index analysis, an approach that asserts that a government's ability to influence policy is a function of all possible coalitions in the Council of Ministers to which it is pivotal. This approach suffers from two major weaknesses. First, it fails to take into account the policy preferences of governments; it overestimates the influence of governments holding extreme preferences and underestimates that of more centrist governments. Second, power index analysis fails to consider the important roles of the Commission of the European Communities and the European Parliament in legislative processes. Today's procedures affect the mix of agenda-setting and veto power, and this has systematic effects on policy outcomes. If intergovernmentalism is to explain choices made during treaty rounds, it must take into account these legislative dynamics.

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