How Agents Weaken their Principals’ Incentives to Control: The Case of EU Negotiators and EU Member States in Multilateral Negotiations

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Series Details Vol.32, No.4, July 2010, p357-374
Publication Date July 2010
ISSN 0703-6337
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This article examines why and how agents weaken the incentives to control of their principals when the EU negotiates international agreements.

Based on analyses of various EU decision-making processes on international trade and environmental agreements, this article argues that the EU negotiator-as-agent has a number of tools to affect the cost-benefit analysis on the basis of which the member states-as-principals decide on the activation of their control mechanisms.

In order to avoid that the member states reject the international agreement reached by the EU negotiator (the Commission and/or the Presidency), the latter needs to reduce the range of behavioural options of the former. Three strategic paths are available to the agent to weaken its principals' control incentives: (a) calibrating the member states' involvement in the international negotiations, (b) being the first mover in determining its own instructions, and (c) exploiting the inconclusiveness among the member states.

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