The European Parliament's Role in Closer Eu Integration

By Richard Corbett | Go to book overview

9
The Intergovernmental Conference of 1985

In this chapter we shall examine the 1985 IGC which produced the Single European Act (SEA). We shall look at the dynamics of the negotiations and explore how some key compromises were obtained. For reasons of space, we shall concentrate on the impact of the EP and the discussions concerning its own powers. 1


PROCEDURES AND PRESSURES

The three reluctant Member States agreed to participate in the IGC. The threat that, if it came to breaking point, the others – essentially the six original Member States – might just go ahead alone was (especially having regard to the geographical situation of the recalcitrant States) not an implausible hypothesis. A failure by the recalcitrant Members to participate in good faith in a duly convened IGC might provoke such a scenario. At the very least, it would have reopened another lengthy period of bitterness very soon after the British budgetary saga had been resolved. The less dangerous course of action, from their point of view, was to participate fully in the IGC, making enough concessions to keep it running and, therefore, to ensure that it remained in the framework of the treaties where Art. 236 gave them the guaranty of unanimity.

Thus we can see evidence of the dynamic that we examined in chapter 1 and which has so often characterized advances in European integration: the majority was showing its intention to proceed even against the wishes of the reticent minority, yet preferring to keep them on board if possible. The minority preferred to join in, albeit reluctantly, when faced with this determination, rather than risk provoking the majority into going ahead without them.

This dynamic was enhanced by the fact that the European Council had, indeed, approved four different institutional initiatives, two of which could very easily be done with only some Member States. They were the revision of the Treaties according to Art. 236; the drafting of a political cooperation Treaty; a request to the Council to ‘study the

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