Resolving controversy in the European Union

2011, Cambridge University Press

How does the EU resolve controversy when making laws that affect citizens? How has the EU been affected by the recent enlargements that brought its membership to a diverse group of twenty-seven countries? This book answers these questions with analyses of the EU’s legislative system that include the roles played by the European Commission, European Parliament and member states’ national governments in the Council of Ministers. The book examines more than 300 controversial issues in the EU from the past decade and describes many cases of controversial decision-making as well as rigorous comparative analyses. The analyses test competing expectations regarding key aspects of the political system, including the policy demands made by different institutions and member states, the distributions of power among the institutions and member states, and the contents of decision outcomes. These analyses are also highly relevant to the EU’s democratic deficit and various reform proposals.


1. Introducing the political system of the European Union
2. Research design: measuring controversy spatially

Part I. Inputs
3. The European Union’s political space
4. The European Commission’s policy positions
5. The European Parliament’s policy positions
6. Member states’ policy positions

Part II. Processes
7. Transforming policy positions into decision outcomes
8. The relative power of the institutions
9. The relative power of the member states

Part III. Outputs
10. Decision outcomes
11. Delegation

12. Evaluating and improving the European Union

Other information

The book and research programme of which it is part are reviewed in:
European Union Politics by Mikko Mattila; and
The Journal of European Public Policy by Sebastiaan Princen.
The book is also reviewed in West European Politics by Heike Klüwer and in Perspectives on Politics by Daniel Finke.

You will find the pre-publication/copyediting text of the book here and the tables and figures here.

The dataset used in this study is introduced and described in the following article:
Thomson, R.,  J. Arregui, D. Leuffen, R. Costello, J. Cross, R. Hertz and T. Jensen. 2012. A new dataset on decision-making in the European Union before and after the 2004 and 2007 enlargements (DEUII).  Journal of European Public Policy 19(4): 604-22.

You can also download the dataset (as a csv file), the codebook and the description of the policy scales.