European Union Politics vol:12 issue:3 pages:291-314
This article analyses the role of the Commission in the European Union (EU). We present a game-theoretical model of two EU processes — Commission appointment and the adoption of legislation — and apply this model to the appointment of recent Commissions and their legislative programmes. Institutional reforms of the EU have led to more involvement of the European Parliament and majority voting in the Council in both processes. We find that the introduction of majority voting in the legislative process in the mid-1980s let the Commission move policy further from the status quo. Yet unanimity for appointing the Commission still allowed the member states to commit to a legislative programme that was preferred by all of them. More recently, the move to majority voting for appointing the Commission, combined with the ability of the European Parliament to amend Commission proposals, has moved the EU towards a more majoritarian political system. However, the potential policy consequences of these changes have been limited thus far because of the particular configuration of policy preferences of the governments and the European Parliament.