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Liberal Intergovernmentalism in the Councils of the EU: A Baseline Theory?

Journal article
Authors Daniel Naurin
Published in Jcms-Journal of Common Market Studies
Volume 56
Issue 7
Pages 1526-1543
ISSN 0021-9886
Publication year 2018
Published at Department of Political Science
Pages 1526-1543
Language en
Keywords Liberal intergovernmentalism, Council of the EU, negotiations, bargaining, European Council, european-union evidence, decision-making, multilevel governance, government responsiveness, communicative action, commission activism, actor alignments, 2004 enlargement, integration, politics, Business & Economics, International Relations, Government & Law, harpf fw, 1988, public administration, v66, p239
Subject categories Political Science


How has the research on the European Council and the Council of the EU engaged with Moravcsik's theory on liberal intergovernmentalism (LI)? This article analyzes 25 years of Council research. Most of this literature does not refer to LI, and a majority of the references that are made raise critique against LI. However, compared to other major works on European integration, LI is by far the most important source in the Council literature. Furthermore, a closer look at the most significant challenges raised against LI indicates that its account of intergovernmental bargaining in the EU is not in serious question. On the other hand, few studies provide systematic tests of the key assumptions of LI with regards to interstate bargaining. As a result, the self-proclaimed status of LI as a baseline theory is confirmed in the Council literature more by implicit, somewhat reluctant, consent than by overt support.

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