Trust in political institutions is one of the key elements which make representative democracies work. Trust creates a connection between citizens and representative political institutions. Democratic governments which enjoy a large degree of trust also tend to have higher degrees of legitimacy and policy efficacy. In Europe's multi-level governance structure, it is imperative to understand the determinants of trust in the institutions of the European Union. With the increasing salience of the European Union, are domestic proxies still a key determinant of evaluating its institutions? Are there differences across the institutions and across the member states? We demonstrate that country-level corruption levels are what drives the relationship between domestic and European institutional trust. The majority of the variation in trust in the institutions of the European Union is, however, driven by individual-level predictors. We also find that individuals across Europe evaluate the institutions of the European Union through a single attitude dimension of political trust rather than through separate evaluations.
The increased use of early agreements in the EU co-decision procedure raises the concern that intra and inter-institutional political debate is sacrificed for the sake of efficiency. We investigate the effect of early agreements (trilogues) on the time it takes for legislation to be negotiated during the first reading of co-decision. We find that the first reading negotiations of trilogues on salient legislation take longer than first readings of similar files reconciled at second and third reading. First readings of early agreements also appear to last longer when considering all co-decision files submitted to the 5th and 6th European Parliaments, but the effect is masked by a general increase in first reading duration after 2004. We conclude that even if early agreements restrict access of certain actors to decision making, they allow for more time for substantive debate at the first reading stage than similar files reconciled later in the legislative process.
We investigate the distribution of European Union (EU) Structural Funds across EU regions. We draw from literature on the political economy of national intergovernmental grants and on the two-tiered bargaining process in the EU. Bargaining on the distribution of Structural Funds takes place on the level between regions and their respective national governments, but is influenced by bargaining that occurs on the intergovernmental level. We test our claims with a data set containing the distribution of Objective-1 and Objective-2 funds across EU regions, as well as economic, institutional and electoral variables. Adjusting for selection bias, we find that the official allocation criteria are not sufficient determinants for explaining the distribution of regional transfers. For Objective-2 they even bear the opposite sign. As for the political variable 'federalist regions' we find that Objective-1 regions receive significantly more funds, whereas 'stronger electoral competition' significantly increases funding of Objective-2 regions.
Recent scholarly work has underlined the importance of being cautious about the notion of Euro-skepticism by putting stress on alternative concepts and measures. This theoretical and empirical contribution has enriched the debate on support for Europe and its potential multidimensionality. However, the fit between theoretical conceptualization and measured attitudes is still under-investigated. Do European citizens actually express different types of support? To what extent are these attitudes structured as we think? This paper investigates the different dimensions that individuals associate with "support for Europe" and whether it varies across national context. We test the empirical validity of three conceptualizations of support for Europe: (a) diffuse versus specific support, (b) identity versus diffuse support, (c) static versus dynamic perception of the European Union. To investigate these patterns, we relied on survey data from Eurobarometer. Methodologically, we use item-response theory modelling. This paper demonstrates that attitudes towards Europe are structured but in a less fine-grained manner than hypothesized in the literature. The distinction between diffuse and specific support is robust at the European scale as well as within each national context. Consequently, we provide an empirical tool to comparatively measure support in all member states. However it is not the case for the other dimensions of support, especially identity, and we advocate caution in using this variable as an explanatory variable.
The European Parliament is frequently seen as the 'big winner' of the Lisbon Treaty, given the fact that several changes have significantly extended its powers, such as the extension of co-decision as the ordinary legislative procedure, and the introduction of the assent procedure to international agreements. The reform of comitology (Article 291) and the introduction of the new instrument of delegated acts (Article 290) are generally seen in the same light, marking the culmination of a long-standing quest of the EP to gain equal rights to the Council in this area. This article questions the view that the Parliament has had unconditional 'success' by examining in detail the way the new provisions have been implemented. It argues that Member States in the Council managed to claw back influence on delegated powers through the manner that the new treaty articles have been put into practice. We identify the EP's timing and selective attention with regard to this domain as the main explanations for this outcome. Our analysis demonstrates the need to study the actual implementation of treaty provisions before coming to a conclusion about the identity of 'winners' and 'losers' of treaty reform.
On the basis of sociological research focused on actions and appreciations of "social policy" actors, this paper contends that, apart from the powerful constraint of macroeconomic governance, the main governance instrument has been hard law, even in an area where member states are deemed to have retained most of their jurisdiction (Leibfried and Pierson, 1995, Ferrera, 2005; Barbier, 2008). The sociological material is systematically cross-checked with legal literature and with material drawn from 26 EU law specialists. The authors focus on the relationship between EU law and "social law" (social protection, labour law and social services). The main finding is the confirmation of the jeopardization of systems of social protection in the "old member states". On the other hand, though, the Court of Justice of the European Union and the Commission have been able to display continual advances on the subject of "fundamental rights", thus producing key sources of legitimacy among various actors. With the classically documented support of big business and corporations, and the active support of non-governmental organizations in favour of expanding individual fundamental rights, the on-going dynamics of EU law seems to inexorably lead to the demise of the late 19th century born systems of social protection, as F. Scharpf argues. This deterministic analysis however does not take into account the current uncertainties about the role of actors.
When it comes to EU old age policy, the political science literature primarily focuses on soft governance through the OMC (Open Method of Coordination) on social inclusion, pensions and health care. However, a mapping of EU old age policy instruments shows that developments started earlier and are broader and more influential. Employing a policy analysis perspective, I explore problem perceptions and actor constellations to explain the development of a number of directly or indirectly relevant policy instruments and discuss their (potential) effects. On this basis, I show that the governance capacity of soft steering instruments that seek to trigger reforms in the area of pensions is typically overvalued. In contrast, we tend to underestimate how much the EU shapes national room to manoeuvre on ageing and old age security through legislative instruments establishing individual rights for equal treatment or through the free movement of capital and persons. What is more, tracing when and how a range of instruments developed brings to the fore a number of different actors and arenas, interest constellations and conflict lines. Thus, contrasting with the OMCs, the present analysis provides for an understanding of EU governance as a complex, at times contradictory and inherently political process.
The level of autonomy afforded to Member States to define certain services as 'services of general interest' and to shelter them from the market so as to promote social objectives has become in recent years a highly sensitive topic among EU and national policy actors and organisations. The increased activity in this area of the European Commission and the general absence of guidance on the conditions necessary to render such services of general interest by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) have resulted in uncertainty concerning the interaction of EU law with social services and more generally public services in the EU Member States. By focusing on the EU regulation on social services of general interest, the paper evaluates how the nature and provision of such services in the UK has been susceptible to changes as a result of the Services Directives, EU public procurement and competition law. The implementation of liberalisation plans in the UK well before any EU initiatives in this area meant that such services have been open to market forces well before other Member States. However, this has not led to the absence of concerns regarding the precise impact of EU law in this area. Recent policy initiatives by the Coalition government may expand further the degree of marketisation and increase the scope for interaction between EU and national-level regulation.
This paper analyzes if and how citizens' attitudes towards European Union (EU) integration are correlated with their ideological and partisan positioning, using France as a case study. We challenge traditional measures of citizens' support for European integration, which are one-dimensional. We analyze the French samples of the European Election Study (EES 2009) and the European Values Study (EVS 2008) surveys and use multiple correspondence analysis to highlight the multidimensionality of French attitudes towards European integration. To avoid methodological problems typically encountered in correspondence analysis when the variables analyzed are ordinal, we have applied an original adaptation of multiple correspondence analysis proposed by French statisticians. The use of multiple correspondence analysis demonstrates the multidimensionality of attitudes of the French towards the EU. Our results show that the correlation of attitudes towards the EU with the left-right scale or partisan identification is not the same across different dimensions. The most general attitude towards the EU (first dimension) has complex relationships with ideological and partisan positioning. However, concerns expressed with respect to the consequences of European integration in terms of loss of social benefits or those expressed in terms of loss of identity and national culture (second and third dimensions) are clearly related to the left-right scale positioning. In the second and third dimensions identified in the EVS 2008 data, attitudes towards the EU rank the left-right positioning in the expected order. These results show that perception of EU integration by the French citizens is not simple.
Deliberative democracy is increasingly discussed in relation to the transnational sphere in terms of promoting democratic mechanisms of representation and participation. The establishment of the European Integration Forum (EIF) represents an effort to apply deliberation to the field of integration policies at the EU level. The EIF combines an original structure consisting of civil society actors and EU institutions, on the one hand, and national and European organisations, on the other. In this article, the institutional and discursive dimensions of the EIF are discussed. The institutional dimension refers to the benefits of the deliberative model for inclusive policy making and it is argued that it is particularly useful for incorporating immigrant voices in consultative processes. The discursive dimension relates to the articulation of a common European discourse on integration within the already existing EU framework. Discourses of contestation emanating from civil society are constrained especially in relation to the identification of a sole target group of integration policies, namely third-country nationals. The deliberative approach of the EIF is efficient in its institutionalisation through the inclusion of multiple civil society actors, but its discursive potential in terms of reflecting a heterogeneity of viewpoints and the capacity for generating contestation are reduced.
The present article explores whether the first Trio Presidency of the Council of Ministers of the European Union (EU), composed of Germany, Portugal and Slovenia, lived up to the goal of ensuring greater continuity and sustainability in managing the Council's work. Focusing on the Trio's performance in promoting the principle of Policy Coherence for Development (PCD) in EU global action, the article explores patterns of cooperation established by the first Trio alongside the traditional roles of the rotating presidency, as the manager, provider of political initiative, broker, and representative of the Council and member states. The contribution demonstrates the emergence of a distinctive cooperation pattern among Germany, Portugal, and Slovenia, which we refer to as, Trio effects.. While such effects were established in all presidency functions with the exception of EU external representation, the Trio effects in exerting management functions contributed most in having more continuity in the promotion of the PCD. Taking into account the particular institutional and procedural context in which the Trio operated, the contribution draws lessons for the role of the Trio in the post-Lisbon external action system. Along with the review of official policy documents and secondary sources, this contribution draws on 40 anonymous semi-structured expert interviews, which were conducted by both authors between 2007 and 2009 in Brussels, Berlin, Lisbon and Ljubljana.
Ever since the inception of the United Nations climate regime in the early 1990s, the European Union has aspired to play a leading part in the global combat against climate change. Based on an analysis of how the Union has developed its foreign climate policy to fulfil this role over the past two decades, the paper sets out to identify the reasons for this evolution. It demonstrates that the EU's development in this area was co-determined by adaptations to shifting international dynamics strongly bounded by purely domestic concerns. Providing a concise understanding and explanation of how the Union designs its foreign policy with regard to one emblematic issue of its international activity, the contribution provides insights into the remarkably rapid, but not always effective maturation of this unique actor's involvement in (non-Common Foreign and Security Policy) global politics.
In this paper we estimate the impact of agricultural subsidies granted under the European Union's Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) on bank loans extended to farms. According to our theoretical analysis, subsidies may either stimulate or crowd out bank loans depending on the timing of subsidies, severity of credit constraint, type of subsidies and bank loans, and the relative cost of internal and external financing. In empirical analysis we use the Farm Accountancy Data Network (FADN) farm level panel data for the period 1995-2007. We employ the fixed effects and generalised method of moment (GMM) models. The estimated results suggest that (i) big farms tend to use subsidies to increase long-term loans, whereas small farms tend to use subsidies to obtain short-term loans; (ii) subsidies tend to crowd out short-term loans for big farms and long-term loans for small farms; (iii) when controlling for the endogeneity, the crowding out effect becomes smaller, but the positive causal effect of subsidies on bank loans remains significant.
This paper addresses the puzzle of why Portugal has consistently supported the EU's fifth enlargement. We argue that standard explanations, based on welfare maximisation, geopolitics, or rhetorical action, cannot persuasively account for this policy choice. Instead, we advance an alternative explanation - subsequently referred to as 'identity endorsement - that is based on a logic of appropriateness where behaviour is shaped by aspects of similarity and congruence, and where the development of Portuguese identity has constituted what has been perceived as appropriate in the context of Eastern enlargement. We argue that EC/EU membership has provided Portuguese political elites with a renewed collective identity, in which a choice for membership has been equated with a choice for democracy, stability and openness. Portuguese support for Eastern enlargement has consistently been based on these concepts that originated from Portugal's own period of accession negotiations. By fully supporting Eastern enlargement, Portugal could act together with the 'European core', and Portugal itself would become more 'core', i.e. more European. For Portuguese political elites, supporting Eastern enlargement thus constituted an act of 'identity endorsement', i.e. the confirmation, (re-) production and reinforcement of existing identity constructions. We tentatively suggest that the notion of identity endorsement may also shed light on other empirical puzzles related to European integration.
Almost twenty years ago the Maastricht Treaty introduced procedures for European Social Dialogue, as part of a larger package of measures to strengthen the social dimension of European integration. Through the Treaty provisions (articles 154-155 Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union), the European social partners received the competence to become, in principle, co-regulators of the European labour market. The conventional reading of the evolution of European social dialogue since its inception is that it has evolved from a relationship of dependency of the European social partners on the European institutions for the implementation of their framework agreements, towards a more autonomous position in which the social partners themselves take charge of implementation. Since the early 2000s, the argument continues, the social partners have taken a more proactive and independent stance and opted to focus on autonomous framework agreements, and other ‘new generation texts’, including joint reports, recommendations, compendia of good practices, etc., which are not directed at the European institutions in order to secure implementation. In this paper we want to challenge and move beyond this rather linear and one-dimensional conceptualisation of the evolution of European social dialogue. Empirically, we will show that there has not been a straightforward move away from the ‘implementation through Directive’ mode in favour of autonomous agreements. Whereas this may seem the case if we take a view of the cross-sector dialogue only, the picture changes when we have a closer look and include developments in the European sector social dialogue in the analysis. Analytically, we will argue that framing the issue in terms of dependency or autonomy does not do justice to the complexity of relationships that are involved in the European social dialogue and the European sector social dialogue, and in the implementation of framework agreements and other new generation texts. Also it accords little attention to the role of power in the relationships involved. We draw on a multi-governance perspective to analyse the dynamics of European social dialogue, which allows us to capture the relevant multiple horizontal and vertical relationships, or interdependencies, between the European and national, and public and private, actors involved. Interdependency implies the presence of both autonomy and dependence in a relationship, and our central proposition is that these interdependencies simultaneously enhance and limit the capacity of the European social partners to make and implement agreements.