Introduction: Contested Competences in the European Union
Title: Introduction: Contested Competences in the European Union
Citation: West European Politics, 2007, 30, 2, 227-243
In this article, we set out an approach to European Union politics that seeks to explain its development using theories of institutional change. In contrast to dominant theories which assume that the Treaties, the governing texts of the European Union, faithfully ensure that the desires of member states are respected, we argue that these theories are incomplete contracts, rife with ambiguities. This means that during periods between Treaty negotiations, we may expect that collective actors in the European Union policy process – the European Commission, the European Parliament and the Council – will each seek to bargain over these ambiguities so that their effective competences are maximised. Their ability to negotiate successfully will depend on their bargaining strength. These ‘conflicts over competences’ may lead to the creation of informal institutions. They may also in the longer term lead to formal institutional change, if they become folded into Treaty texts, or otherwise influence them, in subsequent rounds of negotiations.
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