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Democratic Implications of the Treaty of Lisbon


Council decision making. An increase in public and political

awareness makes it riskier for national bureaucrats to finalize deals

independently, and for ministers to simply rubber stamp their

decisions. The resulting increase in the direct involvement of ministers

generates more scrutiny both at the European and national levels,

strengthening the accountability of government representatives in

the Council and the oversight of their national parliaments and

electorates. To summarize, the Treaty of Lisbon, by empowering

the EP, is supposed to cast greater light on Council decisions, and

increase the capacity of domestic parliaments to hold national

executives accountable for their actions taken in the Council.

(B) Empirical Evaluation

As was seen in the earlier discussion on the impact of co-

decision on the EP, strengthening the EP’s legislative power leads

to an increase in the load, as well as the complexity, of legislation

in the EU. Consequently, the more the EP is empowered to act as

an equal co-legislator, the more heavily reliant on trilogue meetings

the Commission, the EP, and the Council become as they attempt

to cope with the increased complexity and work overload (Reh,

2014: 823-826). The Treaty of Lisbon may have initially had

politicizing and accountability-enhancing effects on the Council,

but these were quickly offset by increased reliance on trilogue

meetings to deliver results. Instead of prompting ministers to

become directly involved in decision-making, further

empowerment of the EP by the Treaty of Lisbon has led to less

ministerial involvement and more decisions being reached

exclusively at lower levels of the Council hierarchy (Häge &

Naurin, 2013: 954). Hence, the continual rise of legislative acts

being passed after a first reading, shown in Figures 6 and 7,

indicates that there has been an increase in informal and secluded

decision-making in Council. Between 1999 and 2009, agreements

were reached on 50% of co-decision files at the first reading (an

average of the blue proportion between the second and third columns