This paper argues that the de jure empowerment of the European Parliament (EP) and the extension of the ordinary legislative procedure should not be necessarily equated with the de facto impact of the EP on legislative outputs. It focuses on the two most important legislative packages that, under the ordinary legislative procedure, contributed to the reform of the Economic and Monetary Union: the Six-Pack and the Two-Pack. On the bases of official documents, reports of the specialized press, and forty original interviews with key decision-makers, it tracks the development of the negotiations from the stages preceding the legislative proposal of the European Commission to their conclusion. The paper finds evidence for the hypothesis that the EP may punch below its weight when it is urged by norms entrepreneurs such as the Heads of State/Government or the Commission to act 'responsibly' - in a context where both the sense of urgency deriving from the Eurocrisis and the policy domain under 'core state powers' call for a cooperative attitude. This paper challenges the conventional wisdom on the role of the EP in the Six and the Two-Pack, showing that intergovernmental actors and dynamics - and, in particular, the activism of the European Council - informally change the logic of formal decision-making processes.
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