Towards a realistic contingency approach to negotiations
One of the most praised elements of the workings of the European Union (EU) is its ability to reach compromises between its Member States. Yet, evidently, the integration process of the EU is also characterised by protracted decision-making, resulting in poorly-functioning policies in domains that are highly politicised, like migration, enlargement and Eurozone policy. Even when difficult compromises could be stuck, compromising on salient political issues has proven to be problematic in several ways: policies are not functioning as intended because some of their actual consequences were unforeseen; policies are not functioning as well because they were poorly thought through; policy initiatives have suffered from questionable (ideological or overoptimistic) assumptions; policies suffer from poor substantiation; or policies stretch the interpretations of EU treaties (also known as creeping integration), for example in taxation policy. Difficulties related to enlargement, the functioning of the eurozone and border control can be related to the dynamics in the ways in which compromises were substantiated and agreed. One simple solution, often is to streamline EU decision making e.g. by abolishing unanimity voting in sensitive areas such as in economic governance. Before going down that road, this policy brief critically examines whether institutional short-cuts to pre-empt tough and protracted EU decision making should be supported.
Adriaan Schout (Senior Research Fellow at the Clingendael Institute)
Adriaan Nunes (Junior Researcher at the Clingendael Institute)