legislatures in federal systems are designed to provide distinct representation
for societal and regional interests. This is also the case in the EU, where the
European Parliament (EP) represents the citizens of the EU and the Council of Ministers
represents the member states in legislative decision making. However, a weak party
system in the EP, nationally-oriented MEPs and a comparable distribution of
votes in both institutions implies that the EP will often be a mirror image of
the Council, rather than a distinct chamber. Using data from roll-call votes in
the EP, this paper shows that the level of conflict between the chambers is
significantly reduced when MEPs act along national rather than partisan lines.
Furthermore, MEPs most often act as national representatives on policy areas
where the Lisbon Treaty enhances the power of the EP, thereby reducing the
potential impact of these changes. The findings are illustrated by a detailed
examination of decision making on a proposal on for sugar sector reform.