Economics Seminar: Annick Laruelle, University of Alicante

"The European Council as a Voting Committee" 

Annick Laruelle, University of Alicante 


In this paper we discuss two possible models for the European Council in order to assess the existing voting rules (simple majority, unanimity or quali…ed majority) and their evolution through time (from 1958 till 2005). In the …rst model, that we refer to as the ’take-it-or-leave-it’ committee model (see Laruelle and Valenciano 2005a), it is assumed that the Council is only entitled to accept or reject proposals, but cannot modify them. In the second model, referred to as the ’bargaining’committee model (see Laruelle and Valenciano 2005b), member states are supposed to bargain on a set of feasible agreements in search of a unanimous consensus. These two di¤erent models permit to formulate precise questions and precise answers, and eventually to propose some recommendations. The take-it-or-leave-it model provides a formal setting to address the question of the likelihood of passing decisions, and the likelihood of each member state to get its preferred option (that is, hav- ing the proposal accepted or rejected). The question of the citizens’ representation is also addressed with two alternative points of view: egalitarianism and utilitarianism. Then we complete the picture of the European Council by modelling it as a bargaining committee. There we compute the states’ bargaining power and check whether the voting rule in use satis…es some principle of equal representation of the citizens. The respective answers to these questions in the two models lead to di¤erent recommendations concerning the European Council, but also permit to understand better the concepts at stake.