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Achieving Consensus through Committees: Does the Sixth European Parliament Continue to Manage?

Neuhold, Christine, and Settembri, Pierpaolo. (2007) Achieving Consensus through Committees: Does the Sixth European Parliament Continue to Manage? In: UNSPECIFIED, Montreal, Canada. (Unpublished)

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    [From the introduction]. Like (and perhaps even more than) other institutions of the European Union (EU), also the EP is exposed to robust pressures as the EU expands its membership to 25, soon 27 states. Hix, Noury and Roland (2007, p. 285) are explicit on this point: the EP ‘has the potential to be the most fragmented parliament in the world’. The enlargement certainly does not alleviate this condition nor diminishes the potential. Identifying the pressures at stake and detecting their repercussions can be, for several reasons, both problematic and fascinating. On the one hand, the conceptualisation of the enlargement as an independent variable determining fundamental changes to organisations confronts scholars with several and severe methodological puzzles. On the other hand, phrasing a research question in terms of what the expansion of the EU does to its institutions, policies, values and norms is a legitimate and to a certain extent inevitable choice: depending on the answers one obtains, the assessment of past enlargements can be properly undertaken, the viability of future enlargements can be more easily predicted and the sustainability of the current settings can be more precisely determined. The risky side of this exercise includes many dimensions: first, the enlargement acts on the EU in conjunction with many other forces whose impact can hardly be separated from the fact that more Member States (MSs) join the EU. In many cases, for example, treaty changes are adopted in the perspective of an enlargement, which in itself alters the basis for comparison: the Union in which one pretends to ‘measure’ the change brought about by the enlargement is often very different from the one taken as a point of reference, before the enlargement took place. Second, the impact of the enlargement can hardly be conceived as a homogeneous phenomenon, given that the pressures it can exert vary greatly across institutions, policy areas, and other dimensions, and that the change these pressures can foster depends very much on the predisposition for change of the institution, the organisation or the actor that ‘receives’ it (horizontal complexity). Third, even when one identifies a specific target to detect change, it is not obvious nor always possible to trace a single or a consistent pattern of change: in the case of an institution of the EU, for example, it may well be that the enlargement alters profoundly some aspects of its organisation, but does not affect at all its contribution to the legislative process (vertical complexity). As the enlargement can impact with varying intensity on different dimensions, one needs to be explicit about the specific aspects that are targeted by the research and prudent on the conclusions that can be drawn.

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    Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (UNSPECIFIED)
    Subjects for non-EU documents: EU policies and themes > EU institutions & developments > European Parliament
    EU policies and themes > Treaty reform > enlargement
    Other > integration theory (see also researching and writing the EU in this section)
    EU policies and themes > EU institutions & developments > institutional development/policy > decision making/policy-making
    Subjects for EU documents: UNSPECIFIED
    EU Series and Periodicals: UNSPECIFIED
    EU Annual Reports: UNSPECIFIED
    Conference: European Union Studies Association (EUSA) > Biennial Conference > 2007 (10th), May 17-19, 2007
    Depositing User: Phil Wilkin
    Official EU Document: No
    Language: English
    Date Deposited: 11 Jun 2008
    Page Range: p. 22
    Last Modified: 15 Feb 2011 17:51

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