European Union Politics

Sage Publications, Inc.
Publication date:

Latest documents

  • Joint bodies in the European Union's international agreements: Delegating powers to the European Commission in EU external relations

    In many international agreements, the European Union sets up joint bodies such as ‘association councils’ or ‘joint committees’. These institutions bring together European Union and third-country officials for agreement implementation. To date, we know surprisingly little about how much discretion the European Commission enjoys in them. Drawing on a principal–agent framework, we hypothesise that the complexity of agreements, the voting rule, conflict within the Council, and agency losses can explain Commission discretion in these institutions. Drawing on an original dataset covering nearly 300 such joint bodies set up by the European Union since 1992, we find robust empirical support for all expectations except for the agency loss thesis. Our findings suggest that the European Commission is the primary actor in the implementation of many of the European Union's international agreements, allowing it to influence EU external relations beyond what is currently acknowledged in the literature.

  • Noncompliance risk, asymmetric power and the design of enforcement of the European economic governance

    In the European Union, states can distribute enforcement prerogatives between a supranational agency, over which they exercise equal influence, and a Council of ministers, where power resources mostly vary by country size. What shapes attitudes towards different enforcement designs? States at greater risk of noncompliance should eschew deeper cooperation and prefer procedures over which they can exercise more influence. Employing an original data set of positions on relevant contested issues during the negotiations over fiscal governance rules from 1997 to 2012, we show that governments at greater risk of noncompliance prefer greater discretion and, if they have higher voting power, more Council involvement in enforcement. These factors only partially explain positions on Commission empowerment. Given their greater indeterminacy, attitudes are also shaped by national public opinion.

  • Discrimination against mobile European Union citizens before and during the first COVID-19 lockdown: Evidence from a conjoint experiment in Germany

    One of the greatest achievements of the EU is the freedom of movement between member states offering citizens equal rights in EU member states. EU enlargement and the COVID-19 pandemic allow for a critical test of whether EU citizens are indeed treated equally in practice. We test preferential treatment of EU citizens in two hypothetical choice experiments in Germany at two different time points: in the period before and during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown. Theories of responses to threat suggest that the COVID-19 crisis should increase discrimination against mobile EU citizens. While our findings reveal sizeable discrimination based on nationality and language proficiency of mobile EU citizens, the findings also suggest that, contrary to expectations, discrimination did not increase in the initial COVID-19 crisis period.

  • From convergence to congruence: European integration and citizen–elite congruence

    Recent research argues that European integration has led to an ideological convergence of member state party systems, which is purported to have significant consequences for democratic representation. We argue that convergence of party positions is less problematic if congruence between governed and governing is maintained. We therefore turn to test whether integration has had an effect on congruence between the public and their governing elites. Using five measures of integration, two sources of public opinion data, and expert surveys on political parties, we find little evidence that integration into the European Union reduces congruence between the public and the national party system, government or legislature either ideologically or across five issue areas. These results should assuage concerns about integration’s effect on domestic political representation.

  • Avoidance, ambiguity, alternation: Position blurring strategies in multidimensional party competition

    In a multidimensional environment, parties may have compelling incentives to obscure their preferences on select issues. This study contributes to a growing literature on position blurring by demonstrating how party leaders purposively create uncertainty about where their party stands on the issue of European integration. By doing so, it theoretically and empirically disentangles the cause of position blurring—parties’ strategic behavior—from its intended political outcome. The analysis of survey and manifesto data across 14 Western European countries (1999–2019) confirms that three distinct strategies—avoidance, ambiguity, and alternation—all increase expert uncertainty about a party's position. This finding is then unpacked by examining for whom avoidance is particularly effective. This study has important implications for our understanding of party strategy, democratic representation, and political accountability.

  • Foreign economic policy in the European Parliament and economic interdependence with foreign powers

    What is the role of economic interdependence with foreign powers when legislators vote on foreign policies? Foreign aid and trade are among the European Union’s most important foreign policy instruments, over which the European Parliament has veto power. Yet, few studies address foreign economic policy voting in European Parliament scholarship. This study presents a new theoretical model about economic interdependence and foreign policy positioning in the European Parliament. I argue that economic interdependence with major foreign powers is associated with legislators’ foreign policy positions. Analysing European Parliament votes concerning aid and trade with Ukraine, I show a statistical association between Members of the European Parliaments with high levels of Russian Foreign Direct Investment in their electoral districts and voting against aid and trade with Ukraine (supporting the pro-Russian policy). These findings offer new insights on Members of the European Parliaments’ position-taking in foreign economic policy decisions that have global economic and political ramifications.

  • Does immigration boost public Euroscepticism in European Union member states?

    A number of studies have established a strong link between anti-immigration and Eurosceptic attitudes. But does this relationship necessarily imply that more immigration would increase public Euroscepticism in member states of the European Union? I evaluate this question by analyzing immigration data and Eurobarometer survey data over the period 2009–2017. The analysis shows no evidence that individual levels of Euroscepticism increase with actual levels of immigration. This result suggests that a strong link between anti-immigration and Eurosceptic attitudes does not necessarily translate into a strong link between immigration levels and public Euroscepticism. Public Euroscepticism can still be low even if immigration levels are high.

  • Collective memories on the 2010 European debt crisis

    We examine whether collective memories on the aid and reform programs chosen to handle the 2010 European debt crisis differ between citizens from borrower and lender countries. We use new international survey data for non-experts and experts in member countries of the euro area. The results show that non-experts from borrower and lender countries remember aspects of the programs in different manners; indicating biases for assessments of how the crisis outcomes are perceived in borrower and lender countries. Nation-serving biases may well explain that the 2010 European debt crisis has reduced the sense of belonging rather than bringing European citizens closer together.

  • One union, different futures? Public preferences for the EU's future and their explanations in 10 EU countries

    Most studies of public opinion towards the European Union focus on attitudes regarding the past and present of the European Union. This study fills a gap by addressing attitudes towards the European Union's future. We expand on a recently developed approach measuring preferences for eight concrete future European Union scenarios that represent the ongoing political and public debate, employing original survey data collected in 2019 in 10 European Union countries. We assess cross-national differences in the distribution of future European Union preferences, as well as in citizens’ motivations to prefer different variants of Europe in the future. The findings show citizens’ fine-grained future European Union preferences, which are meaningfully related to common explanations of European Union support. We also find cross-national differences linked to countries’ structural position within the European Union.

  • Civil society – Politically engaged or member-serving? A governance perspective

    Which types of civil society organizations are politicized as indicated by regular political engagement and why? If they are, how wide-ranging are their political action repertoires? This article proposes an ‘organizational governance perspective’ on civil society organizations’ political engagement by arguing that organizations resembling traditional ‘voluntary associations’ are less likely to be politicized and to employ a broad political action repertoire than those resembling highly professionalized ‘voluntary agencies’. Applying event count regressions to new data from four recent population surveys widely substantiates the proposed perspective, thereby challenging prominent arguments about the detrimental effects of professionalization and state dependency on organizations’ ability to contribute to democratic representation.

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