Reforming the European Union: Realizing the Impossible

By Daniel Finke; Thomas König et al. | Go to book overview

Appendix: Research Design and Methodology

Thomas König and Sven-Oliver Proksch

THIS APPENDIX COMPLEMENTS the chapters of this book. It provides the reader with a discussion of the specific methodological challenges of studying a reform of this magnitude and length and a process that included sudden and unexpected turns. This appendix summarizes the various decisions we made regarding the research design for the chapters and why they differ, the data collection efforts, and the subsequent estimation of constitutional preferences. The reader may consider this process unique to the treaty revision of the European Union (EU). While this is certainly true from a contextual perspective, we argue that there are common lessons to be learned on how a complex process can be studied using some of the most advanced methods available to political scientists. By complex we mean that this process involved a large number of issues and different types of actors over time. In this sense we hope that this appendix may serve also as a guide to future scholars of reforms in the EU and other political systems.


1. METHODOLOGICAL CHALLENGES

One of the characteristic features of democratic politics is that the process of political decision making is regulated according to constitutional rules. But for institutional reforms, the issues at stake, the rules, and the duration of the process are less predictable. Often, issues change because they are settled at one point during the process. In other instances, issues are disregarded or even excluded from the agenda for further consideration. Similarly, power is sometimes distributed according to ad hoc procedures. They may involve rules that are unknown prior to the reform process, and they may even overcome existing rules during the process—a phenomenon that is rather unusual for democratic political decision making. In this book we have argued that the reform of the EU leading to the Treaty of Lisbon did not follow a predefined script. It was the first time in the history of the EU that the treaty amendment included a novel Convention. It was also the first time that the entire process involved multiple intergovernmental confer-

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