Institutional design in the European Union: How governments negotiated the Treaty of Amsterdam

Slapin, Jonathan B.   University of California, Los Angeles ProQuest Dissertations Publishing,  2007. 3295767.

Abstract (summary)

This dissertation examines how the member states of the European Union construct the institutions which govern their daily interactions. I explore the reasons for member state bargaining success at the EU's intergovernmental conferences (IGCs), the negotiating forums which have led to the EU's most important constitutional treaties. Why do some member states perform better than other member states at these negotiations? How is this related to domestic political institutions? What role do ratification considerations play in determining winners and losers? Are voters able to affect the outcome of the intergovernmental bargaining process, and if so, how?

I use data from the EU's negotiations over the 1997 Treaty of Amsterdam to test competing bargaining theories, institutionalism and intergovernmentalism. Institutional approaches to EU integration typically use game theory to explain daily politics within the EU. Bargaining power in institutional models is derived from veto and agenda setting rights in combination with the configuration of actors' preferences. Because the treaties produced by IGCs are subject to the unanimous consent of member states before they can become law, veto power associated with institutional theories may be a source of power at IGC negotiations as well.

Intergovernmentalism largely ignores daily EU politics and explains EU integration by examining bargaining between member states. This approach focuses on member state negotiations at intergovernmental conferences. Intergovernmental studies assume that member states derive bargaining power from their economic might or population size, rather than veto power.

Unlike most intergovernmental studies, I take IGC outcomes as my dependent variable and use the competing predictions of institutional and intergovernmental theories as my independent variables to explain these outcomes. Specifically, institutional theory suggests that member states located on the status quo should get their way because of veto power, no matter how large they are. On the other hand, intergovernmental theory suggests that large states should impose their will on small states, regardless of whether the large states prefer the status quo or change. I find that veto power associated with institutional models better explains IGC outcomes compared to power from size and economic might, often associated with intergovernmental analyses.

Indexing (details)

Political science;
International law
0615: Political science
0616: International law
Identifier / keyword
Social sciences; Bargaining; European Union; Intergovernmental; Political institutions; Treaty of Amsterdam
Institutional design in the European Union: How governments negotiated the Treaty of Amsterdam
Slapin, Jonathan B.
Number of pages
Degree date
School code
DAI-A 69/01, Dissertation Abstracts International
Place of publication
Ann Arbor
Country of publication
United States
Tsebelis, George
University of California, Los Angeles
University location
United States -- California
Source type
Dissertation or Thesis
Document type
Dissertation/thesis number
ProQuest document ID
Database copyright ProQuest LLC; ProQuest does not claim copyright in the individual underlying works.
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