Comparative European Politics

, Volume 16, Issue 2, pp 198–223 | Cite as

Unanimity, Consensus and Peripheral Parties as Determinants of EU Policy Coordination in Federal Member States

  • Álvaro Morcillo Laiz
Original Article


EU scholars have long argued that regions can shape the integration process, but there is no agreement on why this is so. While some authors consider constitutional powers, intergovernmental relations, or differentiated regional elites as independent variables, those interested in Europeanization argue that the ‘transformative power of Europe’ enticed both central and regional governments to adopt consensual policy styles, akin to those prevailing in the EU. Accordingly, new territorial arrangements would have made effective participation in the integration process possible. However, scholars have failed to pay due consideration to a crucial factor: the decision-making rule employed in the coordination mechanisms. In this article, I argue that cooperation among regions actually depends mostly on whether decisions are taken by consensus or unanimity. Common regional positions and impacts on EU decisions become unlikely if peripheral parties increase the levels of conflict. The arguments build on theoretical warrants taken from actor-centered institutionalism.


European Union cooperative federalism peripheral parties audiovisual policy cohesion policy decision-making rules 



This article has benefited from valuable comments from Lorena Ruano and Andreas Schedler, as well as from the reviewers and editors of Comparative European Politics. Mark Aspinwall also provided valuable help, including feedback on previous drafts. José María Pérez Medina, at the time at the Spanish Ministerio de Administraciones Públicas, has generously shared experiences and documents. The research assistance of José Miguel Olvera is also gratefully acknowledged. I finished the article while I was a fellow in the Global Governance Unit at the Berlin Social Science Center (WZB) on a grant from the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD). All errors and shortcomings remain my sole responsibility.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.División de Estudios Internacionales, Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas (CIDE)México D.F.México

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