Joint decision-making denotes the process whereby legally binding decisions under an international agreement are adopted by bodies representing the parties to that agreement. Arrangements for such decision-making are made in the EC Treaty and in agreements between the Community and third states. The implicit assumption in these arrangements is that integration simply entails obligations between these parties, which can satisfactorily be determined and developed by such bodies. In other words, it is implicitly assumed that issues of trade relations between the parties can be separated from issues of trade relations within each party.1 Such separation may be consistent with ideas of Community autonomy and national sovereignty, but may not adequately reflect the economic integration taking place between the parties. The resultant risk is that there may be a legal vacuum, inconsistent with real relations between the parties.
Under the EC Treaty the Council of the Union, composed of representatives of the governments of Member States, engages in joint decision-making. In its decision-making this institution is intended to secure reconciliation of positions formulated by each Member State independently of the other.2 Such reconciliation may be problematic, because independent formulation of its position by each Member State may tend to exaggerate differences between these positions.3 However, this tendency in the work of the Council may not only be affected by the operation of the trade liberalization and other requirements in the Treaty but is also intended to be countered by the supranation____________________