When the Council of Ministers of the European Union reaches a common position on a legislative proposal, the de facto decision making often takes place at the preparatory levels beyond the ministers; the Coreper and the Council working groups. Knowledge about the extent to which and under what conditions decisions are made at the preparatory or the political level is crucial to ensure a full understanding of the workings and the democratic legitimacy of Council decision making.
This thesis studies the extent of decision making that takes place in the Council working groups and what affects whether or not the working groups are able to reach agreement. The thesis combines a quantitative study of how 259 legislative acts were dealt with in the Council of Ministers with interviews with 36 working group members. The analysis shows that negotiations about the legislative acts are finalized at working group level in over one third of the cases. However, the extent of decision making that takes place at working group level varies between policy areas, working groups and according to the legislative act on the table.
Udgivet november 2011
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