European Journal of Law and Economics

, Volume 38, Issue 1, pp 29–46 | Cite as

Codecision procedure biais: the European legislation game



The European Union’s codecision procedure is analyzed as a bargaining game between the Council and the European Parliament. The model shows that the policy outcome is biased towards the ideal point of the institution that is closest to the status quo, when the negotiation leads to an agreement. If the Council’s ideal policy is closer to the status quo, as is the case for example concerning the duration of maternity leave, the resulting policy will remain closer to the Council’s than to the European Parliament’s position. Furthermore, the result of the codecision procedure is Kaldor–Hicks inefficient. The developments of common policies concerning asylum, fishery and maternity leave illustrate both the possibility of the failure of negotiations and the influence of the Council on the outcome.


Codecision European Union Council of Ministers European Parliament Law making 

JEL Classification

D72 D78 F22 K42 H53 



We would like to thank François Fontaine, Nuno Garoupa, Pierre Picard, the partcipants of the RESET seminar at the University of Luxembourg, Dieter Schmidtchen, the audiences at the annual meeting of the European Association of Law and Economics (Paris, 2010) and at the annual meeting of the European Public Choice Society (Rennes 2011) for insightful comments on earlier versions of this paper.


  1. Banzhaf, J. F. (1965). Weighted voting doesn’t work: A mathematical analysis. Rutgers Law Review, 19, 317–343.Google Scholar
  2. Barr, J., & Passarelli F. (2009). Who has power in the EU?. Mathematical Social Sciences, 57, 339–366.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Binmore, K., Rubinstein, A., Wolinsky, A. (1986). The nash bargaining solution in economic modelling. The RAND Journal of Economics, 17(2), 176–188.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Cooter, R., & Drexl, J. (1994). The logic of power in the emerging european constitution: Game theory and the division of powers. International Review of Law and Economics, 14, 307–326.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Crombez, C. (2000). Institutional reform and codecision in the European Union. Constitutional Political Economy, 11(1), 41–57.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. ECRE (2012). Ecre weekly bulletin. 27 January 2012.Google Scholar
  7. Farrel, H., & Héritier, A. (2003). Codecision and institutional change. West European Politics, 30(2), 285–300.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Garrett, G., & Tsebelis G. (2001). Understanding better the EU legislative process. European Union Politics, 2(3), 353–61.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Giuriato, L. (2009). Reforming the EU budgetary procedure: Is codecision a step forward?. CESifo Economic Studies, 55(1), 57–93.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Häge, F., & Kaeding, M. (2007). Reconsidering the European Parliament’s legislative influence: Formal versus informal procedures. European Integration, 29(3), 341–361.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Hoerl, B., Warntjen, B. A., & Wonka, A. (2005). Built on quicksand? A decade of procedural spatial models on EU legislative decision-making. Journal of European Public Policy, 12(3), 592–606.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Kasack, C. (2004). The legislative impact of the European Parliament under the revised co–decision procedure. European Union Politics, 5(2), 241–260.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. König, T., Lindberg, B., Lechner, S., Pohlmeier, W. (2007). Bicameral conflict resolution in the European Union: An empirical analysis of conciliation committee bargains. British Journal of Political Science, 37, 281–312.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Mattila, T. M., & J. -E. Lane (2001). Why unanimity in the Council? A roll call analysis of council voting. European Union Politics, 2, 31–52.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Muthoo, A. (1999). Bargaining theory with applications. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  16. Napel, S., & Widgrén, M. (2004). Power measurement as sensitivity analysis—a unified approach. Journal of Theoretical Politics, 16(4), 517–538.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Napel, S. & Widgrén, M. (2005). The possibility of a preference-based power index. Journal of Theoretical Politics, 17(3), 377–387.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Napel, S., & Widgrén, M. (2006). The inter-institutional distribution of power in EU codecision. Social Choice and Welfare, 27(1), 129–154.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Napel, S. & Widgrén, M. (2008). The European Commission—appointment, preferences and institutional relations. Public Choice, 137(1), 21–41.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Napel, S., & Widgrén, M. (2011). Strategic versus non-strategic voting power in the EU Council of Minister: The consultation procedure. Social Choice and Welfare, 37(3), 511–541.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Passarelli, F., & Barr, J. (2007). Preferences, the agenda setter, and the distribution of power in the EU. Social Choice and Welfare, 28, 41–60.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Shackleton, M., & Tapio, R. (2003). Codecision since amsterdam: A laboratory for institutional innovation and change. Journal of European Public Policy, 10(2), 171–188.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Shapley, L.S., & Shubik, M. (1954). A method for evaluating the distribution of power in a committee system. American Political Science Review, 48(2), 787–792.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Steunenberg, B., Schmidtchen, D., Koboldt, C. (1999). Strategic power in the European Union: Evaluating the distribution of power in policy games. Journal of Theoretical Politics, 11(3), 339–366.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Tsebelis, G. (2002). Veto players: How political institutions work. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  26. Tsebelis, G., & Garrett, G. (1996). Agenda setting power, power indices and decision making in the European Union. International Review of Law and Economics, 16, 345–61.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Tsebelis, G. & Garrett, G. (2000). Legislative politics in the European Union. European Union Politics, 1(1), 9–36.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Tsebelis, G., & Yataganas, X. (2002). Veto players and decisionmaking in the EU after Nice: Policy stability and judicial/bureaucratic discretion. Journal of Common Market Studies, 40(2), 283–308.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Widgrén, M. (2009). The impact of council voting rules on EU decision-making. CESifo Economic Studies, 55(1), 30–56.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.BETA, Université de LorraineNancyFrance
  2. 2.CRESE, Université de Franche-ComtéBesancon CedexFrance

Personalised recommendations