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The politics of overlapping organizations: hostage-taking, forum-shopping and brokering

Stephanie C. Hofmann (Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies Geneva)

The EU and NATO not only share three quarters of their membership, since the ushering in of the EU’s Common Security and Defense Policy in 1999, the two organizations’ efforts in crisis management also appear to duplicate each other. This phenomenon is indicative of a broader trend: As international organizations expand in scope and membership, their organizational boundaries begin to overlap. In her article “The politics of overlapping organizations: hostage-taking, forum-shopping and brokering” published in the Journal of European Public Policy, Stephanie C. Hofmann asks how such overlap impacts international organizations’ execution of their mandates. As some states are a member of only one organization whereas others hold dual membership, Stephanie argues that overlap between organizations results in a variety of strategies for governments to pursue their preferences. Organizational overlap accords new veto opportunities to single membership states and empowers them vis-à-vis dual membership states, while the latter can choose the organizational venue that best serves their interests or broker informal solutions, avoiding the procurement of expensive resources and resulting in more coherent multilateral engagement. Stephanie’s analysis of the EU-NATO overlap identifies the United Kingdom as a key broker, often offering informal solutions to alleviate complexities in crises management, which – against the backdrop of the United Kingdom’s nearing exit from the EU – suggests “that with Brexit, informal resource-based solutions will be harder to achieve.”

The neglected effects of Europeanization in the member states

Daniela Beyer (Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research)

As a growing volume of EU legislation needs to be incorporated into national law, the transfer of policy competencies to the supranational level has left its mark on the portfolio of tasks for EU member states’ legislators. Looking beyond such immediate effects of Europeanization on the dynamics in domestic legislatures, Daniela Beyer argues that the transfer of competencies has shaped policy-making in EU member states in an indirect – and yet unnoticed – way. In her article “The neglected effects of Europeanization in the member states – policy-making in directly EU-influenced and sovereign domains” published in the Journal of European Public Policy, Daniela shows that the shifting of policy competencies to the European level frees up legislators’ policy-making capacities in domains that remained under member states’ sovereign control. National legislators can devote more attention and resources to such policy issues and change the way policy is produced in these domains. Analysing 35 years of policy-making in the German federal legislature, Daniela shows “that deepening European integration has an influence on member states’ domestic agenda composition, and thus on changing patterns for both their sovereign and directly EU-influenced policy-making.”

The visibility of environmental rights in the EU legal order: Eurolegalism in action?

Chris Hilson (University of Reading)

The legal doctrines of direct effect and supremacy of supranational law offer EU citizens an avenue to challenge member states’ breaches of EU policy in national courts, fostering European integration through law. Against this backdrop, some observers have argued that the EU deliberately frames its policies in the language of rights, a phenomenon known as ‘Eurolegalism’. In his article “The visibility of environmental rights in the EU legal order: Eurolegalism in action?” published in the Journal of European Public Policy, Chris Hilson explores whether and to what extent rights-framed litigation has featured in the domain of EU environmental policy in recent decades. Chris shows that except for substantive legislative rights, the visibility of all types of EU environmental rights has increased in EU litigation cases since 1990, particularly following an EU legislative package aimed at fully implementing international law contained in the 2001 Aarhus Convention and the Lisbon Treaty’s incorporation of environmental rights contained in the EU Charter on Fundamental Rights. Chris’s analysis shows that “a Eurolegalism relying on rights frames has been a relative latecomer to the environment as a policy area”, with the recent upshot in EU environmental rights partly due to new legal opportunities following the adoption of the Lisbon Treaty and the positive signals this sent to litigants and judges.

Free movement and non-discrimination in an unequal Union

Susanne K. Schmidt (University of Bremen), Michael Blauberger (University of Salzburg) & Dorte Sindbjerg Martinsen (University of Copenhagen)

The European Union’s fundamental principles of free movement of persons and non-discrimination challenge the traditional closure of the welfare state. Whereas this appeared largely unproblematic before Eastern enlargement, the increased heterogeneity in economic development and welfare provision among EU Member States has spurred fears about potential welfare migration. JEPP’s most recent special issue on “Free movement and non-discrimination in an unequal Union” edited by Susanne K. Schmidt, Michael Blauberger and Dorte Sindbjerg Martinsen addresses this increasingly salient subject. The special issue brings together a collection of articles of the TransJudFare project as well as other experts to explore the current dynamics, scope and limits of free movement and equal treatment for EU citizens on the move.

The contributions are covering three main issues: One part is discussing the normative basis and the legal evolution of EU citizenship, free movement and cross-border access to social benefits. Another part analyses the politicisation of free movement from the perspective of individual attitudes and domestic institutions. A third part examines the theoretical and empirical nexus between European free movement and its reconciliation with the welfare state’s need for closure with regard to social benefits and study grants.

By analysing free movement and equal treatment from multiple perspectives, this special issue adds to several core debates in current EU studies. This includes the (im)balance between liberal market freedoms and social protection; the relative power of judicial and political decision-making in the EU; the gap between abstract EU legal principles and Member State implementation on the ground; and, lastly, the differences between actual problem pressure and patterns of politicisation.

Stakeholders wanted! Why and how European Union agencies involve non-state stakeholders

Sarah Arras (SB OverSeas) & Caelesta Braun (Leiden University)

Over the past twenty years, EU agencies have proliferated as part of the Eurocracy. Notwithstanding their different tasks and varying competences, they tend to share a common feature: they engage closely with non-state stakeholders, including industry associations, trade unions and non-governmental organizations. In their article “Stakeholders wanted! Why and how European Union agencies involve non-state stakeholders” published in the Journal of European Public Policy, Sarah Arras and Caelesta Braun note that although non-state stakeholder appear to assume an important role in EU agencies’ affairs, we know little about how EU agencies involve non-state stakeholders – or why agencies engage them in the first place. To address these questions, Sarah and Caelesta draw on a novel dataset of access instruments employed by EU agencies and a series of interviews with EU agency officials. Evidence from their analysis suggests that non-state stakeholder involvement not only responds to EU agencies’ demands, such as requests for expertise or attempts to shore up their organizational reputation, but also serves the European Parliament as an instrument of indirect control over the myriad of independent agencies. However, Sarah and Caelesta’s analysis also highlights “that rather than being independent and insulated from external pressures, as the idea of delegation to experts suggests, EU regulatory agencies are strongly embedded in a network of stakeholders”, risking a dependence on the regulated industry.

Opportunity or threat? Public attitudes towards EU freedom of movement

Sofia Vasilopoulou (University of York) & Liisa Talving (University of York)

A cornerstone of European integration, the freedom to work and live anywhere within the European Union is possibly the most visible and cherished perk of EU citizenship. However, for several years the freedom of movement has been the source of a contentious debate, featuring prominently in the rhetoric of Eurosceptic parties re-shaping the political landscape and the EU’s ongoing negotiations over the United Kingdom’s exit from the union in March 2019. In their article “Opportunity or threat? Public attitudes towards EU freedom of movement” published in the Journal of European Public Policy, Sofia Vasilopoulou and Liisa Talving explore the drivers of the public’s attitudes towards intra-EU migration. Combining evidence from four waves of Eurobarometer surveys administered between 2015 and 2017, Sofia and Liisa’s analysis shows that respondents with low levels of skills and education as well as those holding strong feelings about national identity are the ones most likely to oppose freedom of movement. These findings need to be evaluated in a domestic context, however. Digging a little deeper, Sofia and Liisa show that individual-level factors are clearly moderated by country affluence, with generally high levels of support for intra-EU migration in poorer EU member states, even among respondents typically perceived as Eurosceptic. Crucially, Sofia and Liisa’s analysis highlights that “[c]itizens in richer countries that tend to receive more EU migrants and where the question of EU mobility is more salient seem to be more prone to perceiving EU freedom of movement as a threat.”

JEPP Google Scholar metrics

The latest Google Scholar journal metrics are out and they had a welcome surprise in store for us. JEPP climbed two ranks and now sits in 4th place in the Political Science category. The journal’s h5-index increased from 39 to 51 (with a h5-median score of 71).

We won’t tire to stress that JEPP’s success reflects the quality of our authors’ work, the countless hours our reviewers invest to keep the journal rolling, and the continued interest from our readers. We greatly appreciate your time and support.

JEPP@25 – Our Best-Of Collection

Throughout 2018, we ask JEPP authors and members from JEPP’s editorial board to share with us their stories as to how the research published in JEPP over the past 25 years influenced their own thinking and research about Europe, the EU, and public policy. This is what they are saying.


Dorte Sindbjerg Martinsen, University of Copenhagen, Denmark

Scharpf, Fritz W. Economic integration, democracy and the welfare state. Journal of European Public Policy 4(1), 1997, pp. 18-36.

Dorte Sindbjerg Martinsen (University of Copenhagen)

Over the years many excellent JEPP contributions on EU law and politics, EU social policy, Europeanization, implementation and enforcement have been major sources of inspiration for my own research. Thus it is not an easy task to pick out one among the many. However, the article ‘Economic integration, democracy and the welfare state’ by Fritz W. Scharpf published in 1997 inspired me greatly when I decided to do a PhD on EU integration and the welfare state. And it continues to be a piece I often return to when working on the complex encounter between EU free movement and the welfare state. The article is extremely rich and covers what to me remain core issues of EU policymaking. It brings together the challenges that Economic integration brings to the welfare state with EU democratic accountability, EU legislative politics and touches upon the ‘rules of negative integration’ as enforced by the European Court of Justice. Interestingly, the article concludes on a positive note, when it lists possibilities for a socially just Europe and states that even in a ‘fully integrated internal market, opportunities for significant and effective political choices are still available at the national level’. In my view, to explore those national policy options and how the welfare state continue to respond to internal market pressures are no less relevant today in a troubled Union as when Scharpf wrote his seminal piece more than 20 years ago.


Thomas Winzen, University of Mannheim, Germany

Lewis, Jeffrey . The methods of community in EU decision-making and administrative rivalry in the Council’s infrastructure. Journal of European Public Policy 7(2), 2000, pp. 261-289.

Rittberger, Berthold. The historical origins of the EU’s system of representation. Journal of European Public Policy 16(1), 2009, pp. 43-61.

Thomas Winzen (University of Mannheim)

JEPP has published many inspiring studies on the institutional and democratic development of the European Union. These two articles, written by Jeffrey Lewis and Berthold Rittberger, respectively, are leading contributions and important influences on my own research. Lewis explored the intensity and complexity of negotiations in the Council of the European Union. For me, these characteristics, and the information deficits they create for external observers, raised the question of whether the European Union can maintain a measure of democratic input and accountability in its policy process. Rittberger’s work demonstrated that policy-makers have long had competing ideas of how to address this question. Variation in these ideas and the abilities of their proponents to influence institutional reforms have shaped the design of the EU’s system of representation. My own work builds on the insight that institutional design ideas vary in order to explain reforms of national parliamentary rights in the EU.


Anne Rasmussen, University of Copenhagen, Denmark, and Leiden University, Netherlands

Schrama, Reini & Asya Zhelyazkova. ‘You can’t have one without the other’: the differential impact of civil society strength on the implementation of EU policy. Journal of European Public Policy 25(7), 2018, pp. 1029-1048.

Anne Rasmussen (University of Copenhagen and Leiden University)

Being one of the last editorial board members to submit my piece, I have taken the liberty to select a brand new JEPP article, which I think is extremely topical and which expresses a trend in existing research on civil society and interests groups of which I think we will see more in the coming years. The article is written by @ReiniSchrama and Zhelyazkova and presents a large, systematic study on the impact  of civil society strength on implementation of EU policy. It fills an important gap in the literature and is a reference point for anyone interested in compliance with EU law, which remains a key priority of the European Union. It is also indicative of a recent development bringing the study of interest groups and civil society closer to what it once was: a field central to our understanding of politics more generally, not shying away from asking big questions and taking a broader approach situating groups within their wider political system (see Baumgartner and Leech, 1998). The study adds to a recent wave of scholarship that has extended the focus of research pertaining to interest groups by linking it closer to other areas of the broader discipline of political science, such as legislative studies and public opinion research. Schrama and Zhelyazkova’s study underlines that understanding the impact of civil society on democratic processes often requires a consideration of several dimensions of interest group activity and behavior. It finds that civic participation and involvement in decision-making are like ‘horse and carriage’: Only when civil society organizations are included in policy-making does policy implementation benefit from the existence of a vibrant civil society.


Erik Jones, Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, United States

Moses, Jonathon W. The social democratic predicament in the emerging European Union: A capital dilemma. Journal of European Public Policy 2(3), 1995, pp. 407-426.

Erik Jones (Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies)

After twenty-five years, it is easy to think of the JEPP as a mainstream, establishment journal in the study of European integration. I remember it as an edgy upstart. The Journal of European Public Policy was the place my friends and contemporaries went to try and establish new research agendas at the interdisciplinary frontier. JEPP was not easier to get into than other journals, but Jeremy Richardson was more willing to place a bet on emerging issues of concern than other journal editors. Sometimes – often, in fact – he won big.

Consider, for example, the collection edited by William D. Coleman and Geoffrey Underhill in the third issue of the second volume. The focus of that collection is on the interaction between the single market, capital market integration, and domestic politics. And the research agenda Coleman and Underhill set out remains central to unlocking everything from the recent crisis of the euro area to Brexit.

The paper by Jonathon Moses is a good illustration. Called ‘The Social Democratic Predicament in the European Union: A Capital Dilemma’, that paper sets out how the integration of European capital markets altered the balance of power between domestic interests in ways that undermined traditional policy formulas. It also explains how monetary integration may address the symptoms associated with market speculation but without redressing that fundamental domestic imbalance.

Moses has returned to that agenda time and again throughout his (prolific) career. His recent ECPR volume on the euro crisis is a straight-line continuation of that trajectory. To understand how Moses got there, careful scholars should remember to go back to the beginning. That article in JEPP was foundational in many respects.  Reading it again after all these years, I am still impressed.

The politics of guarding the Treaties: Commission scrutiny of rule of law compliance

Carlos Closa (Institute for Public Goods and Policies)

Recent reforms implemented by right-wing governments in Poland and Hungary have threatened to unravel the separation of powers in their respective polities, conflicting with the principles of the rule of law enshrined in Article 2 of the Lisbon Treaty. The Lisbon Treaty, however, equips EU institutions with a mechanism to respond to such threats. The European Commission’s decision to trigger Article 7 proceedings in response to the rule of law crisis in Poland, but not in Hungary, has raised more than a few eyebrows among both policy-makers and academics. In his article “The politics of guarding the Treaties: Commission scrutiny of rule of law compliance” published in the Journal of European Public Policy, Carlos Closa argues the European Commission’s decision to initiate Article 7 proceedings is driven by strategic considerations. Carlos argues that absent cooperation from domestic authorities in the offending member state, the Commission anticipates the likelihood of lacking sufficient support among EU members to employ Article 7 sanctions, which would threaten to signal tacit acquiescence to offending authorities. Drawing on data from Commission documents and a series of interviews with key decision-makers, his findings indicate the limits to the Commission’s enforcement capacities, translating into the latter’s “preference for compliance through instruments that can actively engage offending governments rather than those which could lead to severe sanctions.”

One wave of reforms, many outputs: the diffusion of European asylum policies beyond Europe

Nina Guérin (Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich)

Since its inception in 2004, asylum and migration policy reform in the EU’s neighbouring countries has been a key domain of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP). Amid a flurry of reform efforts across most ENP countries, some of the EU’s neighbours chose to align their asylum and migration policies with EU rules, whereas others fell short of the targets set out in the ENP. In her article “One wave of reforms, many outputs: the diffusion of European asylum policies beyond Europe” published in the Journal of European Public Policy, Nina Guérin draws on the concept of policy diffusion to explain variation in the outcomes of asylum and migration policy reform across the EU’s neighbourhood. Employing a qualitative comparative analysis, she shows that two separate pathways can account for the observed variation in EU neighbours’ policy reform outcomes. Nina’s analysis reveals that “ENP states align with European asylum policies in two cases: first, if they are electoral democracies and face moderate migratory pressures; second, if they are electoral democracies and hold EU membership aspirations.”