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The Informal Politics of Legislation: Explaining Secluded Decision-Making in the European Union

Reh, C; Heritier, A; Bressanelli, E; Koop, C; (2013) The Informal Politics of Legislation: Explaining Secluded Decision-Making in the European Union. Comparative Political Studies , 46 (9) 1112 - 1142. 10.1177/0010414011426415. Green open access


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This article investigates a widespread yet understudied trend in EU politics: the shift of legislative decision making from public inclusive to informal se- cluded arenas and the subsequent adoption of legislation as “early agree- ments.” Since its introduction in 1999, “fast-track legislation” has increased dramatically, accounting for 72% of codecision files in the Sixth European Parliament. Drawing from functionalist institutionalism, distributive bargain- ing theory, and sociological institutionalism, this article explains under what conditions informal decision making is likely to occur. The authors test their hypotheses on an original data set of all 797 codecision files negotiated between mid-1999 and mid-2009. Their analysis suggests that fast-track leg- islation is systematically related to the number of participants, legislative workload, and complexity. These findings back a functionalist argument, emphasizing the transaction costs of intraorganizational coordination and in- formation gathering. However, redistributive and salient acts are regularly decided informally, and the Council presidency’s priorities have no significant effect on fast-track legislation. Hence, the authors cannot confirm explana- tions based on issue properties or actors’ privileged institutional positions. Finally, they find a strong effect for the time fast-track legislation has been used, suggesting socialization into interorganizational norms of cooperation.

Type: Article
Title: The Informal Politics of Legislation: Explaining Secluded Decision-Making in the European Union
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1177/0010414011426415
Publisher version: http://cps.sagepub.com/content/early/2011/12/05/00...
Additional information: © The Author(s) 2011. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License (http://www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/) which permits any use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access page (http://www.uk.sagepub.com/aboutus/openaccess.htm).
Keywords: European Parliament; fast-track legislation; informal politics; functionalist institutionalism; distributive bargaining; socialization;
UCL classification: UCL > School of Arts and Social Sciences
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1360105
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