Passage to bicameralism? Probing Europe s legislative power

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Christilla Roederer-Rynning


University of Southern Denmark


DKK 904,000




Monograph Fellowships


Uniquely among international organizations, the European Union (EU) has the power to make laws that are directly binding upon its member-states. Since the 1980s, a system of bicameral lawmaking has emerged with the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers at the center of the EU's legislative power. Why do EU lawmakers routinely reach legislative compromises behind closed doors even as they have committed themselves to open and public lawmaking? And, by implication, to what extent has the growing legislative power of the European Parliament contributed to democratizing the EU polity? PASSAGE TO BICAMERALISM inserts itself in a pressing debate on European democracy with a comparative-historical analysis of EU legislative power.


The EU's legislative power is widely viewed as a pillar of rules-based regional governance as well as a means to promote a European form of liberalism at the global level. At the same time, it has fueled some of the most bitter political controversies in the EU, as evidenced by the Brexit slogan of 'taking back control over our laws', and a wider sense that, perhaps, the EU is overstepping its legislative prerogative. In addressing these questions, the book contributes to our knowledge of how democratic processes can develop and be sustained in an economically integrated but politically fragmented polity, and why the power to make laws remains centrally important to the European continent. It will also contribute insights bridging studies of the EU, lawmaking and negotiation practices.


The analysis of EU lawmaking institutions is embedded in a comparative-historical conceptual framework, with a specific reference to the U.S. experience of bicameralism. Drawing on a rich, original empirical material on EU lawmaking, the monograph charts the development of bicameral institutions in the EU, identifying key changes in procedure and in practice. It then probes the causal mechanisms underpinning change, paying special attention to whether and how the crises of the last decade have been engines of change. The study of EU legislators' response is supplemented by a cursory analysis of U.S. responses. This will produce a clearer and more accurate picture of what is 'unique' and 'not so unique' about the development of EU lawmaking institutions.

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