Thomas König
Why do member states empower the European Parliament?

Journal of European Public Policy, 2008: 15, issue 2, p. 167-188
ISSN: 1350-1763

This is the first study which provides a strategic view on the empowering of the EP by the member states. Compared to the consultation procedure, in which the Council adopts Commission proposals, the EP has become a co-legislator in the codecision procedure, in which it usually promotes an integrationist position favouring policy change. According to this supranational scenario, most scholars conclude that member states intend to increase the legitimacy of the EU rather than their benefits from legislative outcomes. For some authors the empowering of the EP is even a significant example of the limits and deficits of rational choice theory. From a strategic perspective, however, this study clarifies that member states can benefit from introducing the codecision procedure in the supranational scenario. When the parliament can hardly figure out the complex configuration in the Council, member states can strategically misrepresent their pivotal member's 'true' position and present a minority proposal in the conciliation bargains that is more closely located to the status quo. Under these conditions, the introduction of the codecision procedure has several advantages for the member states; in particular it improves the benefits of member states vis-à-vis solutions under the consultation procedure, in which a better informed Commission makes a proposal that must find the support only of a qualified majority of member states.