European integration and consensus politics in the Low Countries : observations on an under-researched relationship
Faculty of Social Sciences. Political Sciences
San Domenico di Fiesole :European University Institute, 2014
EUI working paper SPS ; 2014/04
University of Antwerp
The Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg are well-known cases of consensus politics. Traditionally, decision-making in the Low Countries has been characterized by broad involvement, power sharing and making compromises. These countries were also founding member states of the European Union (EU) and its predecessors. However, the relationship between European integration and the tradition of domestic consensus politics remains unclear. In order to explore this relationship this paper presents the conceptual framework and a short summary of the recently published book European Integration and Consensus Politics in the Low Countries (edited by Hans Vollaard, Jan Beyers and Patrick Dumont; Routledge). The authors discuss how consensus politics would shape the impact of European integration. They also analyse whether European integration may undermine the fundamental characteristics of consensus politics in the Low Countries. Drawing on consociationalism and Europeanization research, they provide a comprehensive overview of Europeanization in the three Low Countries as well as a better understanding of the varieties of consensus politics across and within these countries. In doing this they refer to a wide range of in-depth studies on a variety of political actors such as governments, parliaments, political parties, courts, ministries and interest groups as well as key policy issues such as the ratification of EU treaties and migration policy. Their most important observation is that European integration has changed the substance of consensus politics in some policy-areas, but barely the domestic political practice itself.