Challenging the Commission’s Right of Initiative? Conditions for institutional change and stability
Title: Challenging the Commission’s Right of Initiative? Conditions for institutional change and stability
Author: RASMUSSEN, Anne
Citation: West European Politics, 2007, 30, 2, 244-264, Special issue edited by Adrienne Héritier and Henry Farrell
This article examines the conditions under which informal institutional change between EU Treaties becomes formalised in subsequent Treaties. Recent developments in institutional theory show how formal rule changes often result in informal rule adjustments, which feed back into the formal sphere. However, I show how such feedback has not taken place in one of the clearest examples of informal modifications of the EU Treaty, i.e. the way the agenda-setting power of the European Union has developed over time. I explain this phenomenon by developing a simple framework of change and stability, which links EU bargains with day-to-day politics and looks more closely at what determines the incentives of the decision-makers to formalise informal institutional changes. The framework emphasises that whether actors have an incentive to formalise informal changes depends on uncertainty regarding how the informal institutions might be applied, the costs of formalising them and the possible side-effects that such a change might entail. In this case, the informal changes were sufficient for the member states and the Parliament and decreased their willingness to incur the costs and risks of formal changes to the right of initiative, which would significantly affect the institutional balance of the Community.
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