European Union
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European Union

Jeremy Richardson, Jeremy Richardson, Sonia Mazey, Jeremy Richardson, Sonia Mazey, Jeremy Richardson, Sonia Mazey

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eBook - ePub

European Union

Jeremy Richardson, Jeremy Richardson, Sonia Mazey, Jeremy Richardson, Sonia Mazey, Jeremy Richardson, Sonia Mazey

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About This Book

A key textbook for undergraduate and postgraduate students of contemporary European politics, European Union: Power and policy-making 4 th edition offers a comprehensive and accessible analysis of the European Union policy process.

Intended to advance understanding of the EU as a now mature and ongoing policy system, this book addresses the central issues relating to the distribution of power and influence in the European Union including:

  • Theoretical perspectives

  • The roles of key institutions in the processing of policy problems

  • Different channels of representation

  • The EU as a policy-making state

Written by a distinguished group of international scholars, this new edition will also appeal to the worldwide community of researchers on the EU.

New to this edition:

  • New chapters on The Politics of Multispeed Europe, The Distribution of Power Among Institutions, EU Agencies, Covert Integration in the European Union, and Political Representation and Democracy in the EU.

  • New authors and theoretical approaches on many topics such as differentiated integration, opt-outs and multi-speed integration, negotiation and coalition building, the interplay of judicial and legislative policy-making, power distribution, agency behaviour, integration by subterfuge, the democratic deficit

  • fully updated data and content throughout

Jeremy Richardson is joined by a co-editor, Professor Sonia Mazey, for the fourth expanded edition of this highly regarded textbook on the EU.

Jeremy Richardson is an Emeritus Fellow at Nuffield College, Oxford, UK, and Adjunct Professor at the National Centre for Research on Europe, University of Canterbury, New Zealand. He is also Founder and Co-editor of the Journal of European Public Policy

Sonia Mazey is a Professor and Pro-Vice-Chancellor of the College of Business and Law, University of Canterbury, New Zealand and formally a Fellow of Keble College, Oxford, UK

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  • 1 The EU as a policy-making state: a policy system like any other?
  • 2 The EU as a system of differentiated integration: a challenge for theories of European integration?
  • 3 The politics of multispeed integration in the European Union

Chapter 1 The EU as a policy-making state

A policy system like any other?
DOI: 10.4324/9781315735399-1
  • ‘Europeanization’ and EU state building1
  • The EU policy style: consensual promiscuity
  • Policy-making under uncertainty: knowledge and mutual gains
  • The ‘primeval soup’ of the EU and the importance of advocacy coalitions
  • Multiple policy-making ‘venues’ and the erosion of national sovereignty
  • Conclusion: perpetual policy-making and muddling through
  • Note
  • References
Studying the EU…it is natural to understand European integration as the progressive realization of an emerging system of authoritative rule at the supranational level.
Caporaso and Wittenbrick (2006: 472)

‘Europeanization’ and EU state building 1

One of the main attributes of a modern political system is the ability to make what David Easton termed ‘authoritative allocations of values’ for society (Easton 1965). By this he meant policy outputs that are ‘produced by…or [that] are closely associated with those who hold positions of authority in the system and [that] thereby set the goals toward which the energies and resources of the system may be directed’ (Easton 1965: 350). In practice this means an ability to formulate and implement public policy programmes governing the operation of society. Hix and Høyland, whilst rejecting the notion of the European Union (EU) as a state, see the EU as a political system in the manner described by Easton. Drawing on work by Almond and Easton in the mid-1950s they extract four key characteristics of a political system, as follows: Easton produced a simplified model of a political system, as follows (Easton 1965: 32 see Figure 1.1).
  1. There is a stable and clearly defined set of institutions for collective decision-making and a set of rules governing relations between and within these institutions.
  2. Citizens seek to realize their political desires through the political system, either directly or through intermediary organizations such as interest groups and political parties.
  3. Collective decisions in the political system have a significant impact on the distribution of economic resources and the allocation of values across the whole system.
  4. There is continuous interaction between these political outputs, new demands on the system, new decisions and so on.
(Hix and Høyland 2011: 12–13)
Easton might not have intended it, but it is possible to substitute ‘state’ for ‘system’ in his model. Thus, if it is to persist over time, a state has as its key functions the generation of support, the processing of demands and the production of outputs (public policies) which in turn have an effect on the level of support and the generation of new demands via a feedback loop. Since the EU’s inception, these interrelated processes have been very evident.
Figure 1.1 Easton's political systems model
One can adapt Easton’s simplified model of a political system and construct a simplified model of the EU policy-making state, as shown in Figure 1.2.
The main problem with Easton’s model is that the political system is something of a black box, out of which decisions and actions emerge. The ‘EU black box’ is extremely productive in terms of ‘decisions and actions’. As Hix and Høyland note, the EU now produces approximately 150 pieces of new legislation each year, more than in most other democratic polities (2011: 13). Moreover, the range of policy areas in which the EU has at least some remit is now quite vast. It is difficult to find a policy area which is not influenced in some way by the EU. However, this is not to suggest that Europeanization of public policy is uniform (for examples of variation in Europeanization of policy sectors; see Richardson 2012a; Rittberger and Shimmelfennig, in this volume). Thus, no scholars deny that Europeanization has taken place. However, what is now meant by the much used term Europeanization?
In fact, the term Europeanization is replete with definitional problems. In particular, as Caporaso points out, authors (including himself, he admits) often use the term Europeanization in two opposing senses, the creation of governance structures at the European level and the impact of the EU on domestic politics (Caporaso 2007: 27). However, Radaelli (2003) notes that Lawson has used ‘Europeanization’ rather differently than many authors have. Lawson identifies a de jure transfer of power to the EU in various sectors (albeit with a de facto lack of authority). He argues that ‘Europeanization may also be interpreted as the transfer of power from national governments to supranational institutions’ and views ‘Europeanization as the shift in policy hegemony from national capitals to Brussels’ (Lawton 1999: 94). He is not claiming that the power shift is absolute: ‘Supranational authorities in Brussels play an increasing role in the shaping and policing of policy in Europe, but national institutions retain considerable authority and popular legitimacy’ (Lawton 1999: 94). Lawton goes on to suggest that policy-style changes follow from the shift in power to Brussels: The notion of an emerging Euro-level policy style was earlier suggested by Mazey and Richardson. Labeling the style ‘promiscuous policy-making’ they argued that ‘the emerging “European policy style” is likely to emphasize complex bargaining, complex coalition building, and consensus building in policymaking arenas somewhat distant from domestic institutional settings’ (Mazey and Richardson 1995: 338). Apart from suggesting a new policy style, Lawton is really describing the construction of a completely new policymaking venue at the regional level. The creation and expansion of this venue have some inevitable consequences for member states and private actors who seek to extract policy gains from participation at this new policy-making venue. (For a discussion of venues and venue shift, see Baumgartner 2007; Baumgartner and Jones: 1993; Bouwen and McCown 2007; Broscheid and Coen 2007; Stephenson 2012.)
This shift in authority from the national to the EU level signifies a merging, rather than a convergence of European policy styles. A single European approach emerges, which is either a hybrid of previous national methods or mirrors a particular national policy style. European policy-making thus becomes a process dominated by supranational institutions.
(1999: 94)
Figure 1.2 Easton's model adapted to the EU
Without in any way wishing to claim that authors who use the term Europeanization in the sense of domestic adaptation are wrong to do so, I argue that it is also important to focus on the other ‘face’ of Europeanization in the sense that Lawton uses the term, namely the shift in the locus of public policy-making power to the EU level. By Europeanization I mean ‘the processes by which the key decisions about public policies are gradually transferred to the European level (or for new policy areas, emerge at the European level)’. My use of the term Europeanization is based on Ernst Haas’s (1958) seminal The Uniting of Europe. Caporaso sees Haas’s work as the research exemplar of the first wave of European integration (and integration theory) ‘…which was dominated by bottom-up thinking, i.e. the causal flow was predominantly from state and society of the member states to the regional organization’ (Caporaso, 2007: 24). The core assertion in Haas’s analysis was that Similarly, Olsen notes that some scholars ‘portray Europeanization as the institutionalization at the European level of a distinct system of governance with common institutions and the authority to make, implement and enforce European-wide binding policies’ (2007: 76).
[p]olitical integration is the process whereby political actors in several distinct settings are persuaded to shift their loyalties, expectations and political activities toward a new center, whose institutions possess or demand jurisdiction over pre-existing national states.
(1958: 16)
Does the creation of a system of governance with common institutions and the authority to make binding decisions, as Olsen put it, mean that the EU is a state? Most writers are reluctant to answer yes, although sometimes resort to terms such as ‘proto-state’ in order to indicate that the EU does exhibit at least some state-like characteristics. One of the problems in answering the question is that there are many different conceptions of the state. As Caporaso argues, the answer one gives depends heavily on which definition of the state one has adopted. He relies on the concept ‘forms of the state’ developed by Cox (1983, 1986). ‘Forms of state’ is an umbrella concept within which many specific state structures can be accommodated. Caporaso treats ‘…each state form less as a discrete category and more as an emphasis, something to be accented rather than something to sort into a category… At best, we can think of different state forms…’ (1996: 31). In his view, the EU exhibits aspects of different definitions of the state (Caporaso 1996: 34). For example, it has traditionally been argued that states possess a monopoly over the use of legitimate violence. Thus, ‘the Westphalian state is the Weberian ideal in which monopolies of legitimate violence, rational bureaucracies and centralized policy-making authority correspond to territorially exclusive political orders’ (Caporaso 1996: 34). If one were to accept that a monopoly of the legitimate use of violence is a central feature of any definition of the state, then, of course, the EU could not be described as a state. However, it is reasonable to argue that modern Western states rarely, if ever, rely on the threat (let alone actual use) of violence as a tool. The rule of law and an increasingly complex array of sanctions, incentives, and consensus-building processes are the common tools of government, not ‘legitimate’ violence. Western states seem extremely reluctant to use violence as a means of governing. In trying to decide what the EU is, we should not use as a yardstick, a rather crude concept of the state. In fact, it is odd that we cling to a ‘monopoly of the legitimate use of violence’ as the defining characteristic of the state at a time when there is so much emphasis on so-called new governance, the core aspect of which is actually relatively weak states sharing power with a wide range of other stakeholders. Indeed, it is possible to argue that new governance is not new at all as modern democracies have long practiced the processes of governance rather than government (Richardson 2012b: 311–324).
In suggesting that the EU is clearly not a state, analysts might be making exactly the same mistake that Zweifel suggested is commonly made when claiming that the EU has a ‘democratic deficit’. Zweifel compared the EU with the US and Switzerland on various measures of democracy and concluded that ‘ [w]hile there is much room for improvement, the EU does not suffer from a democratic deficit greater than that of the world’s most liberal democracies’ (2002: 812). Thomson’s analysis of state sovereignty in international relations often refers to a ‘monopoly on legitimate coercion’ (1995: 214, emphasis added) which perhaps best captures the reality of power in modern Western states. The state still possesses strong powers to shape or control behaviour and to coerce people and organizations into some form of compliance, but this tends not to rest on the threat of legitimate violence by the state. Moreover, as Thomson suggests, one should not subscribe to some idealized model of state power and control. As she puts it ‘…there never was a time when state control over anything, including violence, was assured or secure… Sovereignty is not about state control but about state authority’ (Thomson 1995: 216, emphasis added). Caporaso goes on to identify two other key conceptions of the state, regulatory and postmodern, which seem much more appropriate yardsticks by which to assess the EU (1996: 39–48).
One of the enduring puzzles about the EU is that everyone recognizes that it is hugely important, yet by conventional indicators, such as taxation revenue and spending totals, it is tiny and should, in theory, be quite weak. However, as Majone has argued, the European Commission has found that regulation is a very effective policy instrument, if only because the Commission does not bear the costs of any regulation (Majone 1994: 87). He also argues that the shift towards economic and social regulation has become widespread across many states (Majone 1996: 54–55). In that sense, characterizing the EU as a ‘regulatory state’ is not so radical. Not only has the amount of EU regulation increased hugely over time, but also Caporaso fleshes out the concept of an EU regulatory state as follows: ‘The regulatory state is (in this case) essentially an international and arguably supranational state specializing in the control and management of international externalities’ (1996: 9).
[a] good part of national regulations are today of European origin or are produced in order to implement European legislation. As explanatory variables of the growth of statutory regulation in the member states, EC directives are even more significant than… American influences, privatization policies and the crisis of the Keynesian welfare state.
(Majone 1996: 56)
Idema and Kelemen, in criticizing the literature on ‘new modes of governance’ in the EU, point to the coercive powers of the EU as a regulatory state (although not using the term coercion). They place great emphasis on the link ...

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