Changing Approaches Treaty Making in the European Union: New Intergovernmentalism and the Problem of Two Level Legitimacy

Dermot Hodson, Imelda Maher

National governments have traditionally been seen as the masters of treaty making in the European Union (EU) but the last three decades have seen national parliaments, national courts and - through the possibility of referendums - the people assume a more prominent role in the process of treaty ratification. This paper elucidates this puzzle through a systematic analysis of the changing legal rules and norms governing treaty ratification in the EU-15 member states between 1985 and 2015. Having done so, it considers a line of explanation based on a new intergovernmental reworking of Putnam's two-level game approach. Whereas Putnam assumes that the heads of state or government occupy a privileged position in both Level 1 and Level 2, the two-level legitimacy approach sees this privilege as being under threat because of problems of trust in relation to the EU and domestic polities.

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