The book investigates the characteristics of decision-making in the EU in the Post-Maastricht period. In doing so it puts forth a conceptualisation of ‘new intergovernmentalism’ as the basis for EU integration. The rationale for ‘new intergovernmentalism’ is grounded in the observation that deliberation and consensus have become the dominant forms of decision-making in the EU. Additionally, Puetter et al. argues that the Post-Maastricht period is also characterised by a different form of delegation of power, namely instead of empowering the Commission and the Court of Justice, which was common under the Community method, delegation has been geared towards de novo bodies. These de novo bodies range from well-known bodies, such as the European External Action Service (EEAS), but also incorporates less known bodies such as the European Food and Safety Authority and the European Banking Authority. These developments, it is argued, have resulted in an integration paradox in which member states have sought integration at an unprecedented scale without empowering the traditional supranational EU institutions.
On this basis the book puts forth the following conceptualisation of European integration, which asserts that the systematisation and entrenchment of increased consensus-based decision-making and deliberation and a new form of delegation to de novo institutions has resulted in a new form of intergovernmentalism. This ‘new intergovernmentalism’ is similar to ‘old intergovernmentalism’ in its analytical focus on the member states. However, it differs from ‘old intergovernmentalism’ in its understanding of the practice of intergovernmental relations, it has a different account of the desires of member states and supranational institutions and, lastly, it identifies a different separation between the areas of high and low politics.
The discussion that followed was focused mainly on the notion of ‘new intergovernmentalism’ and the novelty of its characterisations. The extent to which the characterisation of de novo bodies as defined by their sui generis nature was raised. In addition to this there were questions on how the criteria for ‘new intergovernmentalism’ versus ‘old intergovernmentalism’ were identified and the methodology for applying these criteria to the data.
By Tine E. J. Brøgger
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