Insiders and outsiders agree; there is something particular about negotiating in Brussels. This book analyses ten years of continuous negotiations about EU enlargement to the Western Balkans, answering questions such as When and how are decisions typically reached in the European Union? What is this ‘culture of consensus' that pervades negotiations in the Council of Ministers? And why are some member states more successful than others in making their voices heard? Using the metaphor of the Caucus race from Alice in Wonderland, Smeets' book offers a fresh perspective on the decision-making realities in Brussels' European Quarter. By providing unique empirical insight into behind-closed-doors debates, it explains the faltering accession process of the countries of former Yugoslavia. But most of all, it reveals the mechanism by which national interests are accommodated, so that deals can be reached between the member states.
List of Abbreviations ix
List of Figures and Tables xi
Introduction: A Typical Day at the Justus Lipsius xv
Chapter One – Theorising Council Negotiations 1
Chapter Two – A Caucus-Race Model of Negotiations 21
Chapter Three – Research Design 41
Chapter Four – The Double Bluff: Perspectives and Positions 61
Chapter Five – Procedural Anchors and Verbal Commitments
(June 2000–June 2003) 83
Chapter Six – Croatia Sets the Stage or Raises the Bar
(June 2003–December 2005) 101
Chapter Seven – Searching for Standard Operating Procedures
(January 2006–June 2008) 129
Chapter Eight – Splendid Isolation?
(June 2008–October 2010) 157
Chapter Nine – Conclusion 183
Sandrino Smeets is a historian, journalist and political scientist. He specialises in EU decision making and international negotiations in the fields of foreign policy, enlargement and economic and monetary union. As part of his PhD project, he worked for the Dutch Permanent Representation in the Council Working Party on the Western Balkans (Coweb) and the Council Working Party on Enlargement (Coela). He has published in a number of academic journals, including Journal of European Public Policy, European Journal of Political Research and Journal of European Integration. Previously an Assistant Professor in the departments of Methodology and Political Science of Radboud University Nijmegen, he currently works at Aarhus University on a project about the EMU reform negotiations.