The European Parliament, membership expansions, and organizational change

Gaye Gungor, Florida International University


The European Union (EU) is an extraordinary achievement. From a regional economic organization, it grew into a polity within fifty years. The original EU of six members expanded incrementally to 27 over forty years, and it now comprises a population of almost 500 million people. While the five expansions of the European Economic Community/European Community/European Union (EU) have received considerable scholarly attention, surprisingly little attention has been given to their impacts on "Europe's" only legislative body, currently known as the European Parliament (EP). More specifically, little is known about how waves of new members (from widely diverse parties and national backgrounds) affected—and were affected by—the EP's organizational structure and its internal processes. The purpose of this study therefore is to help fill this gap by describing and explaining how the various EEC/EC/EU expansions or "membership shocks" (1973, 1981, 1986, 1995, and 2004) affected the EP's organizational structure and its internal Rules of Procedure (RoP). The central research question of this dissertation is the following: What were the major structural and procedural effects of the five membership expansions of what eventually became the European Union on the European Parliament? This dissertation answers this question by using concepts and measures drawn from organizational theory. While other studies have applied concepts and hypotheses from organizational theory to legislatures, such an approach has never been used to analyze the EP, which is conceptualized here as a "membership organization." This study, through an analysis of the EP, demonstrates that organization theory can help us fully understand the effects of membership expansions on any membership organization. That is, understanding how this particular organization responded to change can inform not only how others in this class (legislatures) do so, but how this process unfolds in a variety of times and places. The principal findings of this study are as follows: (1) EP staff growth revealed an interesting pattern: Staff did not increase concurrently with EP membership. That is, it turned out that the rate of membership growth exceeded the rate of staff increase, suggesting professionalization of EP staff and their relative empowerment vis-à-vis MEPs; (2) The number of rules and the precision within them increased; (3) the largest number of EP rule changes focused on increasing EP efficiency; and (4) The authority was centralized in the hands of EP leadership, that is, the EP President, the Conference of Presidents and also two major political groups.

Subject Area

Political science|Organizational behavior

Recommended Citation

Gungor, Gaye, "The European Parliament, membership expansions, and organizational change" (2008). ProQuest ETD Collection for FIU. AAI3319004.