Detecting Looming Vetoes: Getting the European Parliament’s Consent in Trade Agreements

Marie Peffenköver*, J. Adriaensen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Since the implementation of the Lisbon Treaty, the European Parliament wields the power of consent over international (trade) agreements, enabling it to threaten a veto. Due to the extensive financial and reputational costs associated with a veto, the European Commission (hereinafter Commission) was expected to read these threats effectively. However, the Commission's responses to such threats have varied greatly. Building on a fine-grained causal mechanism derived from information processing theory and an extensive process-tracing analysis of seven free trade agreements post-Lisbon, we explain why the Commission has responded differently to looming vetoes. Our analysis reveals that the variation in Commission responses derives from imperfections in its information-processing system, the 'early-warning system,' which had to be adapted to the new institutional equilibrium post-Lisbon. Because of this adaption process, factors exogenous to the parliamentary context ('externalities') as well as internal uncertainties ('internalities') add constant unpredictability to the Commission's reading of the European Parliament.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)74-84
Number of pages11
JournalPolitics and Governance
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2021


  • CETA
  • EU
  • EU trade policy
  • European Commission
  • European Parliament
  • information processing theory
  • trade agreements
  • veto


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