Codecision and its discontents : intra-organisational politics and institutional reform in the European Parliament
Title: Codecision and its discontents : intra-organisational politics and institutional reform in the European Parliament
Citation: West European Politics, 2012, 35, 5, 1134-1157
ISSN: 0140-2382; 1743-9655
This article investigates the consequences of fast-track legislation in the European Union. Previous research has explained why fast-track legislation occurs and evaluated its democratic repercussions. This study focuses on the European Parliament (EP)’s intra-organisational response. It first describes how the early adoption of EU legislation has informalised legislative decision-making, transformed inter-organisational relations, and induced power shifts. It then discusses the political response, showing that actors seek to redress power shifts, that reform attempts centre on the control of negotiation authority and information flows, and that reform is highly contested. The research suggests that the chance of successful redress is low in Parliament as a decentralised organisation unless two conditions are met: (i) the extent of fast-track legislation reaches a critical level, and (ii) the organisation goes through a period of wider reform; the former increases the visibility of disempowerment and reputational loss, the latter allows package deals and/or the strategic use of norms. Based on qualitative document analysis and semi-structured elite interviews an analysis is made of how Parliament’s rules of co-legislation have been contested, negotiated and reformed from the formal introduction of fast-track legislation in 1999 to the adoption of the Code of Conduct for Negotiating in the Context of Codecision Procedures in 2009. The analysis also shows that Parliament may have a price to pay for its successful fight for empowerment, namely a challenge to its institutional legitimacy and discontent of its of rank-and-file members. More generally, understanding the conditions for intra-organisational reform can inform the study of other democratic bodies which undergo a similar restriction and seclusion of de facto decision-making.
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