Democratic Legitimacy in the EU: Inside the 'Black Box' of Informal Trilogues

Project: Research

Project Details


Can the EU govern efficiently and with the people? Almost all EU legislation is now agreed in an early stage, facilitated by informal ‘trilogue’ negotiations in which a small number of representatives of three EU institutions bargain behind closed doors and present the agreement for approval in public meetings. We examine the complex dynamics of this ‘black box’ and assess the ability of EU institutions to bargain successfully, to foster or preclude political contestation, to create political coalitions across institutions, and avoid capture by special interests. We do this by combining, first, a comprehensive, large-scale analysis of patterns of trilogue negotiations, tracing systematically the evolution of Council and EP preferences in order to determine their respective bargaining success (package 1); second, in-depth process-tracing studies to explore what happens when issues with high political stakes enter the world of trilogues, i.e we examine the conditions under which informal trilogues affect bargaining success by looking at intra- and extra-institutional actors and their strategies to manage information flows (package 2) and explore how both mainstream and Eurosceptic and/or radical political groups mediate cross-institutional contestation (package 3). A fourth section (package 4) will bring these findings together to explain how patterns of contestation affect the evolution of preferences during the course of legislative negotiations.

Layman's description

Effective start/end date01/10/201630/09/2019

Collaborative partners

  • Utrecht University (lead)
  • Robert Gordon University (Project partner)
  • University of Southern Denmark (Beneficiary)
  • University of Bamberg


Explore the research topics touched on by this project. These labels are generated based on the underlying awards/grants. Together they form a unique fingerprint.