Explaining the treaty of Amsterdam: Interests, influence, institutions

Andrew Moravcsik, Kalypso Nicolaïdis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

187 Scopus citations


This article offers a basic explanation of the process and outcome of negotiating the Treaty of Amsterdam. We pose three questions: What explains the national preferences of the major governments? Given those substantive national preferences, what explains bargaining outcomes among them? Given those substantive bargains, what explains the choice of international institutions to implement them? We argue in favour of an explanation based on three elements. Issue-specific interdependence explains national preferences. Interstate bargaining based on asymmetrical interdependence explains the outcomes of substantive negotiation. The need for credible commitments explains institutional choices to pool and delegate sovereignty. Other oft-cited factors - European ideology, supranational entrepreneurship, technocratic considerations, or the random flux and non-rational processes of 'garbage can' decision-making - play secondary roles. Remaining areas of ambiguity are flagged for future research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)59-85
Number of pages27
JournalJournal of Common Market Studies
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1999

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Business and International Management
  • General Business, Management and Accounting
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Political Science and International Relations


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