The effects of ministerial turnover in the Council of the European Union

Lauren K. Perez (University of Chicago) & John A. Scherpereel (James Madison University)

Who would have thought a knack of learning new names would be among the portfolio of essential skills ministers must bring to the table when fulfilling their duties at the Council of the European Union? With ministers serving at the mercy of their heads of governments, recent research suggests that ministerial turnover in the Council by far outweighs turnover rates in national legislatures. In their article “Vertical intra-institutional effects of ministerial turnover in the Council of the European Union” published in the Journal of European Public Policy, Lauren K. Perez and John A. Scherpereel investigate how ministerial reshuffles affect the influence national bureaucrats in working groups and permanent representatives in senior committees can exercise in the Council. Their evidence suggests that ministerial turnover is indeed “an important and significant predictor of whether decisions are made at the ministerial or committee level.” Beyond providing an interesting insight into vertical intra-institutional dynamics in the Council, Lauren and John’s contribution has important implications for the debate on the EU’s democratic deficit: If high ministerial turnover shifts influence on decision-making in the Council over to bureaucrats who are not subject to the same public scrutiny as the ministers they are serving, democratic accountability only becomes more difficult.