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Journal Article

Only an Agenda Setter? The European Commission's Power over the Council of Ministers


Schmidt,  Susanne K.
Institutioneller Wandel im gegenwärtigen Kapitalismus, MPI for the Study of Societies, Max Planck Society;

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Schmidt, S. K. (2000). Only an Agenda Setter? The European Commission's Power over the Council of Ministers. European Union Politics, 1(1), 37-61. doi:10.1177/1465116500001001003.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0012-55A5-3
What is the scope for autonomous action of the European Commission? Its independence is much more contentious than that of the European Court of Justice, which is generally considered quite autonomous. While the literature on the Commission focuses predominantly on its ability to use its agenda-setting powers, the Commission's other means to influence European integration have been less well established. In this paper, I demonstrate how the Commission can use its role as a guardian of the Treaty to coax the Council of Ministers into action. In addition to agenda setting, the Commission can manipulate the Council's default condition, or change the preferences of some of its member states. Thereby the Commission may achieve decisions from the Council that would not have come about had the Commission only agenda-setting powers at its disposal. Effectively, the Commission here uses the greater autonomy of the European Court strategically for its own ends.