It is our objective to systematically describe institutional democratic reforms below the Treaty level. After the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty there will be no Treaty amendments for the foreseeable future. It is, therefore, all the more important to observe the reforms and changes in decision-making rules that have, in part, been designed at the sub-treaty level. But it is also important to track changes in institutional democratic rules that have emerged in the course of the application of former treaty rules and that constitute a change in institutional democratic rules at the sub-treaty level.
There are a plethora of such reforms which touch upon important aspects of institutional democratic decision-making processes in Europe. To give just two examples: (i) the revised second comitology decision (2006) gave the European Parliament more competences in the comitology procedure by introducing a regulatory procedure under scrutiny; (ii) the increasing use of trialogues and early agreements (i.e. the adoption of legislation during a first reading) under the co-decision procedure offers the possibility of fast-track legislation.
Interstitial Institutional Change. Contested Competencies in the European Union.
This project investigates institutional change in the European Union which takes place between the highly salient formal treaty revisions. The aim of the project is to scrutinize under which conditions such change occurs in areas of codecision, comitology, right of initiative and other areas and analyze the underlying causal processes. The project is funded and coordinated by SIEPS – the Swedish Institute for European Policy Studies (Project Manager at SIEPS: Carl Fredrik Bergström) and coordinated at the RSCAS by Adrienne Héritier.
Seclusion and Inclusion in the European Polity: Institutional Change and Democratic Practices (SIEPOL)
This research project is intended to analyze the causes, processes and impact of political seclusion and inclusion at the European level and at the national level of the old member states, as well as the inter-relationship between these levels. The analysis is primarily focused on the role of institutions in the process of seclusion, and on their relation to the democratic functioning of the European Union and its member states.
By seclusion and inclusion we refer to the following: at both the European and national levels, we appear to be witnessing two contrasting developments. On the one hand, political decision-makers appear increasingly “sealed off ” or “secluded” from the wider constituency, and, indeed from the rank-and-file of elected politicians, such as in the case of early agreements in the European legislative process under codecision; on the other hand, there are multiple and diffuse attempts at a radical opening-up of democratic decision-making that invoke directdemocratic procedures, the opening-up of political decision-making through transparency, and access to information which can include greater parts of the citizenry and can also enhance contact with civil society.
SIEPOL is intended to investigate the factors that drive these developments at the European and national levels, to assess the extent to which the two processes are related, and to analyse the links, if any, between what occurs at the national level and what occurs at the European level. We finally discuss the normative implications that our findings have for democratic legitimation in Europe.
SIEPOL is financed by the Research Council of the EUI for the period 2008 – 2010 and is co-funded by the UK Economic and Social Research Council. The directors of the project are Adrienne Héritier (EUI) and Peter Mair (EUI).