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Reforming the European UnionRealizing the Impossible$
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Daniel Finke, Thomas König, Sven-Oliver Proksch, and George Tsebelis

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780691153926

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691153926.001.0001

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The Art of Political Manipulation in the European Convention

The Art of Political Manipulation in the European Convention

(p.76) Chapter Three The Art of Political Manipulation in the European Convention
Reforming the European Union

George Tsebelis

Sven-Oliver Proksch

Princeton University Press

This chapter describes how the first procedural impossibility of reforming European institutions was removed. It examines how the Convention leadership was able to structure an unprecedented constitutional process to reach a timely and successful outcome. Given that even intergovernmental conferences, despite months of preparations, sometimes fail to produce results, the failure of negotiations in the Convention was a distinct possibility. Another realistic possibility would have been an “anarchic” document in which different parts would have reflected the prevalence of different majorities. The reason that the European Convention was able to avoid both these outcomes and produce a constitution was the agenda control exercised by the praesidium and particularly by the Convention president, Valéry Giscard d'Estaing, who was able to produce results through strategic leadership. Understanding that the European Convention was an exceptional event made possible by the combination of a creative, consistent, and overpowering agenda-setting process and the impasse created by the status quo (Treaty of Nice) explains how we came to an EU constitution, and why subsequently it became difficult to move away from this document in the Treaty of Lisbon.

Keywords:   European Convention, European Union, agenda control, Valéry Giscard d'Estaing, Treaty of Nice, EU constitution, Treaty of Lisbon

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