chapter  2
Coping with domestic and European complexity: how consensus politics is maintained in the Low Countries’ governments
Pages 24

This chapter presents relationship between European integration and consensus politics in the domain of family migration policy in Belgium and the Netherlands. It describes consensus politics as formal and informal decision-making arrangements aimed at making decisions in a cooperative style involving as many political actors at the elite level as possible and avoiding decisions by simple majorities. The history of family migration policies in post-war Europe began in the 1950s, with the migration of organized labor to Western Europe. During the guest worker experience of the 1950s and 1960s, states varied as to the extent that family migration was encouraged. Whereas, previously, policy-makers 'paradoxically' accepted unwanted immigration, since the 1980s accepting rights-based migration such as family migration or asylum has become much less self-evident and more contested. The political dynamics of family migration in Belgium and the Netherlands lend empirical support to hypothesis HIa: that consensus politics has negatively affected the ability to upload domestic preferences to the EU level.