Anticipating Resistance: The effect of member state preferences on the European Commission's agenda-setting activity


The high success rate of Commission proposals seems to suggest that the European Commission is very influential in promoting European policies. However, the Commission’s agenda-setting activity might be affected by its anticipation of member states’ preferences. If the Commission acts with foresight, it simply does not initiate a proposal when it knows that the proposal will not be acceptable to member state governments in the Council or, more recently, the European Parliament. In this respect, the Commission is far less powerful than it appears. We test this hypothesis with aggregate data on the number of Commission proposals for directives and the degree of EU support in the Council between 1976 and 2003. The results of the analysis broadly support the theoretical argument.

Limerick Papers in Politics and Public Administration, University of Limerick, Limerick
Frank M. Häge
Frank M. Häge
Political Scientist

Senior Lecturer at the University of Limerick. Interested in Legislative Politics, European Union Politics, and Historical Political Economy.