New book at a glance: from the JEPP special issue on co-decision in the European Union

Legislative codecision in the European Union: experience over twenty years and implications landed on our shelves just recently, although we won’t suggest it is exactly a beach reading (here’s some, instead).

Codecision in the EU is a 2014 reprint by Routledge of the contributions to the Journal of European Public Policy 7:2013, a special issue edited by Anne Rasmussen, Charlotte Burns and Christine Reh. The journal took stock of twenty years of codecision in the EU by means of qualitative and quantitative case studies, sometimes from a normative perspective; the results are interesting both for scholars and for those practicing codecision within the EU instutions.

Here are a couple of quick takeaways from the editors’ introduction and some of the articles:

  • agreements in the first-reading stage of the codecision procedure have become more common since the Amsterdam treaty; this can be seen, as the editors put it, as “a democracy-efficiency trade off”;
  • codecision has increased the Parliament’s weight in decision-making; however, data analysed by Costello & Thomson still suggest that Council has a stronger ability to affect the outcome of decisions;
  • codecision makes the EU a somehow bicameral system, yet not one with strong bicameralism as defined in Lijphart’s classic Patterns of Democracy, i.e. one where two chambers representing different constituencies have fairly equal powers.

A major focus in the book is how early agreements between Council and Parliament “reduce the transparency and visibility of law-making” (see the articles by Häge & Naurin and by Lord). On this, further data and insights have recently come from the project “The Informal Politics of Codecision” at the European University Institute:

our data clearly show that informal decision-making is not restricted to technical, urgent or uncontested files: early agreements can be found among both salient and non-salient dossiers as well as among redistributive files; […] early agreements increase across the board with the time codecision has been in use and, in particular, following the EU’s 2004 enlargement.

On codecision in general, or, in post-Lisbon terminology, the ordinary legislative procedure, here are other materials from our collection. In March 2014, the European Parliament Research Service published a comprehensive brief on 20 years of codecision, gathering institutional documents, references to scholarly works, and statistics.

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