Legal Harmonization. A case study on modelling the legislative processes of the European Union.

Term Paper, 2004

15 Pages, Grade: 1,0


Table of contents

1. Introduction

2. The DEU data set

3. Directive 2001/29/EC
3.1 General background
3.2 The directive in detail (DEU data)

4. The models
4.1 Spatial modelling
4.2 The models in detail and their application to the directive at hand

5. Conclusion




Figure 1: The policy space of issue 1

Figure 2: The concept of agenda setting .

Figure 3: Preference configuration and model predictions for issue 1

1. Introduction

The European Union seems to be a very attractive field for scholars of political science. This is probably due to its sui generis character but the even more likely motivation may stem from the intellectual challenges provided by the European decision-making process. This process consists of multiple actors – such as the member state governments or the European Commissioners – and of multiple levels – such as the subnational, the national or the supranational level. I do not want to claim that explaining this process is just a means for intellectual satisfaction, rather questions that affect more or less all citizens within the European Union can be answered this way. For example, if it is known which actor has which influence in the legislative process, any public or private interest group can figure out where to spend its resources effectively.

A fruitful school of thought in this research area is the rational choice institutionalism. Scholars that can be assigned to this school are eager to find parsimonious explanations in order to cover a large class of events within the European legislation. Actors that are assumed to act (at least on average) rationally and to have preferences being exogenous to the decision-making processes under analysis are the base for such explanations. Formal or informal rules (that are ‘institutions’) enable or constrain these actors in pursuing their preferences (Aspinwall & Schneider 2000). Hence, modelling such institutions, figuring out their implications and comparing these results to empirical data is the most useful research strategy.

Indeed modelling always means a simplification of reality without which one can not produce generaliseable statements. Researchers differ in their views on reality and may put emphasis on different aspects when establishing a model. Thus different results and therefore debates can emerge that, if at all, only can be solved by empirical examination using a reliable and valid research design. A famous example for such a debate is the one between George Tsebelis and Peter Moser on the implications of the cooperation procedure (Tsebelis 1994, Moser 1994). Here different interpretations of the legal basis lead to different statements on the power the European Parliament is expected to have under this procedure.

This case study is intended to present simple examples of models which were used by rational choice institutionalists. To demonstrate the functioning of such modelling strategies, these models will be applied to a single legislation process of the European Union.

Section 2 introduces the data set on which the case study is based. Section 3 then outlines the general background of the directive that is analysed and provides a closer look on the data. The following section (4) is concerned with spatial modelling, the models and their application to the data. Finally concluding remarks are given.

2. The DEU data set

The data used in this case study is taken from the DEU data set (Decision Making in the European Union). It comprises data of 66 Commission proposals initiated between 1996 and 2000 and was collected by expert interviews. The experts were selected on the basis of their knowledge of the proposal under scrutiny and their expertise was evaluated by their ability to provide arguments that justified their quantitative estimates. Altogether 150 Interviews with 125 experts were held.

During these interviews, the experts had to specify the issues within the proposals that were contested among at least some of the relevant legislative actors which are the Commission, the European Parliament and the fifteen member states. These controversies are conceptualized spatially, the actors are placed at different positions on the issue continua or scales respectively to indicate their most favoured policy outcome. The scales are standardized between 0 and 100 with 0 meaning the most conservative and 100 meaning the most progressive position with relation to the legislative status quo at the EU-level. In all the data set consists of 174 issue-level observations which also include information on the legislative outcome (scaled identically), the salience the actors attached to each issue, their capabilities, the legislative procedure (codecision or consultation) and the majority rule in the Council that had to be applied (see Stokman & Thomson 2004: p. 8-17, Selck 2004: p. 217-219).

3. Directive 2001/29/EC

3.1 General background

This section introduces the general background of the directive on the harmonization of certain aspects of copyright and related rights in the information society, on which my case study is based. The following information regarding the justification of the directive rests mainly on the initial Commission proposal [Com(97)628] as published in the ‘Official Journal of the European Communities’ (European Commission 1998).

The starting point is that considerable differences across the EU member states in the legal protection of intellectual property may lead to obstructions of the free movement of services and goods. Thus, distortions of competition and a fragmentation of the internal market are likely consequences.

How can this logic be explained? Any kind of author has incentives to limit her activities on markets that provide the highest possible level of legal certainty regarding copyright. Legal certainty in this context means that the author can be sure to reap the benefits of her (intellectual and/or creative) efforts and is able to re-invest them. It follows that authors residing in member states that provide a higher level of legal protection than others have an advantage in competition.

The internal barriers between the member states evolving through this logic are obviously inconsistent with the establishment of an internal market as demanded by the Treaty establishing the European Community. Furthermore the realisation of economies of scale – which can be seen as one of the main motives of integration – is obstructed.

Another reason behind the directive at hand is the aim of the European Community to foster the development of the Information Society in Europe. Higher legal certainty is expected to lead to higher investments in innovation and creativity (see logic above) which in turn is expected to lead to more growth and thus higher competitiveness of the European economy. This is consistent with the aims of the community as articulated in the “eEurope”-plan passed by the Lissabon summit in 2000, through which the European society should become the most competitive one in the information age (European Commission 2004, Meyer 2002).


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Legal Harmonization. A case study on modelling the legislative processes of the European Union.
University of Constance
European Co-operation and Integration
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ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
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Legal, Harmonization, European, Union, European, Co-operation, Integration
Quote paper
Christian Rauh (Author), 2004, Legal Harmonization. A case study on modelling the legislative processes of the European Union., Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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