Veto Power

Institutional Design in the European Union
Jonathan B. Slapin
The veto privilege endows all EU members with equal power in treaty negotiations


Veto rights can be a meaningful source of power only when leaving an organization is extremely unlikely. For example, small European states have periodically wielded their veto privileges to override the preferences of their larger, more economically and militarily powerful neighbors when negotiating European Union treaties, which require the unanimous consent of all EU members.

Jonathan B. Slapin traces the historical development of the veto privilege in the EU and how a veto—or veto threat—has been employed in treaty negotiations of the past two decades. As he explains, the importance of veto power in treaty negotiations is one of the features that distinguishes the EU from other international organizations in which exit and expulsion threats play a greater role. At the same time, the prominence of veto power means that bargaining in the EU looks more like bargaining in a federal system. Slapin's findings have significant ramifications for the study of international negotiations, the design of international organizations, and European integration.

"This is a terrific book. The questions that Slapin asks about intergovernmental conferences (IGCs) in the European Union are extraordinarily important and ambitious, with implications for the EU and for international cooperation more generally. Furthermore, Slapin's theorizing of his core questions is rigorous, lucid, and accessible to scholarly readers without extensive formal modeling background . . . This book is a solid, serious contribution to the literature on EU studies."
—Mark Pollack, Temple University

"An excellent example of the growing literature that brings modern political science to bear on the politics of the European Union."
—Michael Laver, New York University

Jonathan B. Slapin is Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Houston.

Praise / Awards

  • "[Veto Power] is an excellent multimethod analysis of EU member state bargaining. The conclusions speak directly to a core theoretical debate at the heart of European Union politics."
    Journal of Politics

  • "Veto Power makes a convincing claim about the bargaining logic of the intergovernmental conferences that have been used to renegotiate the EU treaties over the last 30 years. Slapin's methods and data go into unprecedented depth to support the claim that member states with preferences close to the status quo have held a strong grip on these negotiations."
    West European Politics

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Table of Contents

Product Details

  • 6 x 9.
  • 196pp.
  • 19 Tables, 13 figures.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Hardcover
  • 2011
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-11793-2

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  • $49.95 U.S.

  • Open Access
  • 2017
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-90079-4

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  • Veto, European Union, Comparative Politics, International Relations, Intergovernmental conferences, European Commission, European parliament, Council of ministers, Veto privilege, Treaty negotiations, International organization