The Presidency Effect. EU Member State Behaviour in the Rotating Council Presidency and its Impact on EU Decision Making

Research question/goal: 

Every six months, the Presidency of the European Union (EU) Council of Ministers rotates to a different member state (MS), and there is some evidence that in the run-up to and during their tenure, MS sometimes change policy positions and (voting) behaviour in ways that defy established theoretical expectations. The Presidency has evolved from a merely administrative Chair into a key player in EU decision making with responsibility for representation, mediation/brokerage and agenda setting. Thus, this project examines the impact of the Presidency’s changing role(s) in the context of EU governance on the behaviour and policy positions of the incumbent MS, in order to determine to what extent tenure of the Presidency can explain changes in Council members’ policy positions and behaviour where other factors, including (power) resources, relative stakeholder positions, issue salience and (other) institutions cannot. The compilation of a new, and the first, data set of the population of Presidencies to date (114 cases by 2015) will form the basis for a systematic comparison of the multi-faceted historical cases using a multi-method approach: Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA), supplemented where necessary by case studies, will capture the non-quantifiable aspects of Presidency roles, while statistical analyses can be used for quantitative aspects and alternative explanatory factors (such as economic performance and other power resources). The research goal is to establish those combinations of structural, institutional and ideational conditions that explain (changes in) member state behaviour in the Presidency.

Current stage: 

The project is currently in the preparatory stage, pending a funding decision by the German Research Foundation (DFG). The project proposal was submitted to the DFG in July 2015. Preparation entails the planning and adjustment of research and conference schedules in anticipation of the timing of the requisite decision, including submission of paper proposals in accordance with conference deadlines. Beyond that, efforts are focused on the identification of additional potential international collaborators to cover Presidency cases, and on conceptual work for the codebook of the planned data set at the core of the project.

Fact sheet

2013 to 2016
Data Sources: 
EU Council documents, interviews, official national and EU statistics and polls
Geographic Space: