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When Agreements Lead to Conflict

Desmond Johnson

The focal point of the paper is to consider whether EU institutions can use interinstitutional agreements, as means outside the formal decision-making procedures established in the Treaties, to alter the institutional balance in practice and the interinstitutional power dynamics between the main decision-making institutions: the Council, the European Parliament and the Commission. The paper utilizes an interdisciplinary approach, taking a legal dogmatic perspective and combining elements of political and philosophical theory as supplements. This approach allows for a broader analysis, involving the implications of changes in the Lisbon Treaty, as well as their impact on institutional behavior in practice. First, the paper provides an outline of interinstitutional agreements. It assesses their diverse nature and complexities, with regard to their precise legal status and binding nature due to differences in form, designation, scope and number of participants. Next, the emphasis turns to two central issues involving interinstitutional relations and the EU decision-making process: 1) the significance of article 295 TFEU in the Lisbon Treaty providing for the possibility of binding interinstitutional agreements and the ramifications for the institutional balance and 2) the implications of the Framework Agreement on relations between the European Parliament and the Commission for the institutional balance. By addressing these issues, the paper can serve to assess the tentative conclusions of my research, i.e. that the Framework Agreement modifies the institutional balance, not in theory, but in practice, primarily by granting the Parliament competences it does not have in the Treaty and limiting the autonomy of the Commission.

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