Insiders and outsiders agree; there is something particular about negotiating in Brussels.
This book analyses ten years of continuous negotiations about EU enlargement to the Western Balkans, answering questions such as When and how are decisions typically reached in the European Union? What is this ‘culture of consensus’ that pervades negotiations in the Council of Ministers? And why are some member states more successful than others in making their voices heard?
Using the metaphor of the Caucus race from Alice in Wonderland, Smeets' book offers a fresh perspective on the decision-making realities in Brussels’ European Quarter.
By providing unique empirical insight into behind-closed-doors debates, it explains the faltering accession process of the countries of former Yugoslavia. But most of all, it reveals the mechanism by which national interests are accommodated, so that deals can be reached between the member states.
'Based on participant observation and first-hand accounts, Sandrino Smeets provides an original, in-depth analysis of Council negotiations on the Balkans enlargement of the European Union. By moving beyond explaining negotiations by the constellation of state preferences and power, his innovative Caucus race model accounts for the process features that in turn account for the development and outcomes of negotiations. Smeets’ book is not only essential reading for students of EU enlargement and the EU Council; it offers relevant insights for the study of international negotiations in general.'
Frank Schimmelfennig, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology