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Member State Capacity and Legislative Dynamics: The Effects of the Eastern Enlargement on the Council of Ministers

Marzena Kloka

This paper starts with the observation that the Eastern Enlargement considerably increased the differentiation of member states' negotiation capacity within the Council of Ministers. The reviewed (quantitative) empirical evidence clearly shows that resources likely to increase a country's influence on collective decision-making, such as high quality administration, bureaucratic networks or interest groups density, considerably privilege Northern European countries over their Southern or Eastern counterparts. The asymmetry of member states "input capacity" could have several implications forthe legislative dynamics within the Council. The expected mechanisms include "bandwagon effects" and the legislative lock-in in the initial phase of negotiations, highly selective concessions in the later phase and a considerable leverage of the Presidency throughout the process. The argument is supported by numerous observations derived from two legislative case studies. The Working Time Directive (2004-2008) and the Patient Mobility Directive (2008-2010) exemplify two diverse scenarios of the Council's post-Enlargement decision-making: stalemate and headway.

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