Avoiding Deadlock: Veto Players and the Offsetting Effects of Institutions in European Trade Policy
An analysis of a series of global trade rounds shows that compared to the United States, the European Union (EU) has been astonishingly successful in avoiding protracted deadlock in internal decision-making during these negotiations. This finding casts doubt on the conjecture that policy stability is positively related to the number of veto players in a political system. I argue that the focus on the number of veto players alone produces misleading results because it misses the possibility that political systems may differ systematically with regard to their capacity to facilitate issue linkages. In particular, the EU disposes of certain institutional features that enable it to find a common stance on trade policy matters despite the large number of veto players. I examine the explanatory power of the argument in an analysis of how the EU responded to the need for compromises in the Kennedy Round (1964-67) and the Doha Development Agenda (2001-).