EUSA Conference 2009

European Union Studies Association (EUSA)

11th Biennial International Conference
Los Angeles/USA, April 23 – 25, 2009

Panel chaired:

Institutional Design, Decision Making and EU Enlargements

This panel focuses on the consequences of enlargement for institutional design and decision making processes in the European Union (EU). An increase of group size in an international organization like the EU might imply less efficient decision-making processes or even a deadlock, as a result of the sheer number of members and of their growing heterogeneity. An increase in heterogeneity may also lead to redistribution of financial gains and burdens. Member states may anticipate a loss of power after the enlargement and try to be better or at least not worse off after enlargement. They reflect upon these anticipations and may change the institutional design in treaty reform processes.

Thus, enlargement can induce changes of institutional rules (e.g. composition of the commission and the European Parliament, weighting of votes in the council, qualified majority voting, rotation of the presidency). Moreover, new institutional provisions (e.g. forms of differentiated integration) might be established in the light of enlargement.

The effect of enlargement on EU institutions has so far been discussed with an emphasis on the Eastern enlargement (Steunenberg 2002, König/Bräuninger 2004, to name only a few). This workshop aims at analyzing all six EU enlargement rounds in a comparative perspective and invites papers addressing the following issues:

  • Institutional reform: Is enlargement in general a trigger for treaty change? Are new institutional provisions established to meet the challenge of an increased group size (e.g. differentiated integration, opting-out)? Are the reforms introduced ex ante or ex post of the enlargement?
  • Comparative perspective: Is the recent Eastern Enlargement an exception or can we identify similar dynamics of institutional reform in all six enlargement rounds since 1973?
  • Anticipation: (How) do member states and supranational actors anticipate institutional problems or losses of power and resources? Can we identify similar patterns?
  • Consequences for decision making: Does widening lead to stability in decision making processes, as veto player theory suggests? Does widening hamper deepening?
  • Have political scientists any instruments to predict the institutional consequences of future EU enlargement rounds (Balkan countries, Turkey, Ukraine, Switzerland…)?
  • Can we compare EU enlargement with the enlargement of other international organisations, such as NATO, OSCE, WTO? How did these organisations cope with an increase of group size over years?


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