Institutional Constraints, Legislative Activism and Policy Change: The Case of the European Union

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    This article presents a study of how institutional constraints affect legislative activism and how legislative activism in turn affects policy change through an analysis of the European Union's legislative process. The argument revolves around the key role of the European Commission in advancing policy change, and emphasises that the Commission can successfully push for increased policy change by increasing its legislative activity when the institutional opportunity space widens. Using a novel panel dataset covering eight policy sectors from the period 1984–2012, the article shows that the number of legislative proposals significantly affects the extent of regulatory reform in the EU. The rise in the number of legislative proposals, in turn, is affected by the extent of gridlock between the EU's legislative bodies. These findings show that the Commission steps up its legislative activity when the institutional opportunity space allows for greater policy change.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalEuropean Journal of Political Research
    Issue number3
    Pages (from-to)609-625
    Number of pages17
    Publication statusPublished - 2016


    • European union
    • Legislative activism
    • Institutions
    • Veto players
    • Regulation

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