Pioneering marriage for same-sex couples in the Netherlands

Kelly Kollman (University of Glasgow)

In 2001, the Dutch parliament legalized same-sex marriages, making the Netherlands the first country worldwide to open marriage to same-sex couples. But what does it take for a country to become a global pioneer in advancing LGBT rights? Kelly Kollman argues that high levels of tolerance towards homosexuality in Dutch society and public support for the reform are only part of the story. Analysing the process leading up to the Dutch parliament’s vote on legalizing same-sex marriage, she shows how “the desire of Dutch activists and policy élites to burnish their international reputation as a social policy pioneer played a critical role in motivating the government to adopt this controversial policy”. Read her article “Pioneering marriage for same-sex couples in the Netherlands” published in the Journal of European Public Policy to learn how the European LGBT policy community facilitated the diffusion of same-sex unions policies and encouraged Dutch policy-makers to experiment with new forms of same-sex relationship recognition.

Whom to represent? National parliamentary representation during the eurozone crisis

Lucy Kinski (Heinrich-Heine Universität Düsseldorf)
Lucy Kinski (Heinrich-Heine Universität Düsseldorf)

The Eurocrisis confronted national parliamentarians with some tough choices. MPs in creditor countries were asked to dig deep into the pockets of their constituencies to stop the fiscal freefall of other EU member states. Their colleagues in debtor countries voted on externally imposed austerity measures. Thus, expecting MPs to voice the interests of their national constituencies during one of the most severe crises of European integration seems plausible, right? Not necessarily, argues Lucy Kinski in her article “Whom to represent? National parliamentary representation during the eurozone crisis” published in the Journal of European Public Policy. Analysing plenary debates on the European Financial Stability Facility in Austria, Germany and Ireland, she finds that centre- and far-right parties indeed voiced national interests, however interestingly Eurosceptic MPs on the left criticised crisis measures in the name of European citizens. Crucially, Lucy’s findings suggest that “a Europeanization of national parliamentary representation does not necessarily mean pro-EU representation”.

Money over misery: restrictive gambling legislation in an era of liberalization

Carsten Jensen (Aarhus University)
Carsten Jensen (Aarhus University)

With the rapid extension of its online segment, gambling has transitioned from a fringe pastime to a key source of both commercial and public revenue. But the popularity of gambling across Europe comes at a price, as estimates put the number of gambling addicts in the EU anywhere between 2.5 and 10 million individuals. Amid a general convergence among policy-makers’ regulatory responses, Carsten Jensen points out that some national gambling policies in Europe appear to follow distinct trajectories. Based on a comparative analysis of Norway’s restrictive approach towards gambling and Denmark’s liberal regulatory regime, he concludes that policy-makers “appear to prioritize reduced gambling addiction only when the state itself is not directly benefitting from the activity”. Read Carsten’s article “Money over misery: restrictive gambling legislation in an era of liberalization” published in the Journal of European Public Policy to learn how Norwegian policy-makers only went ahead with restrictive policies after their own reform efforts in the early 1990s incidentally shut Norway out from gambling’s revenue stream.

JEPP wishes everyone a happy holiday season!

frozen-berries-red-fruits-64705For a journal covering European politics, 2016 was an eventful, if not turbulent year indeed. For us as editors, business as usual now also means to think about ways to cover some of the more momentous events and developments without too much delay, while keeping academic standards high. With the introduction of the Debate Section, we were able to test a new format of shorter articles, which engage a topic from different viewpoints, and which demand from authors as well as reviewers to work even more than their usual extra hours. JEPP’s very first Debate Section on the British Exit from the EU – Legal and Political Implications, edited by Graham Butler, Mads Dagnis Jensen and Holly Snaith received ample attention by our readers as well as in the social media.

Unmatched in this regard was Sara Hobolt’s excellent in-depth analysis of the Brexit vote: a divided nation, a divided continent, which went online in September and received over 7000 views by December 2016 – a JEPP record, which will be hard to beat unless other EU member states decide to follow suit (fingers crossed that this will not happen so soon). Other developments, which have caught the public eye in 2016, have also received ample coverage in JEPP via our Debate Section format: The gradual erosion of liberal democracy and the rule of law in Poland and Hungary, and what the EU can do about it, has been covered in a highly publicized debate edited by Dan Kelemen and Michael Blauberger.

2016 also kept us busy doing JEPP’s core tasks: publishing some of the best work in European politics and public policy. By the end of 2016, we will – for the first time – hit the 400-submission ceiling. While this means more work for us, we are also happy because this probably means that our readers (you!) seem to like the journal. As JEPP continues to grow, we have decided to move from 10 to 11 issues in 2017. And to better communicate JEPP to the world of academia and beyond, our JEPP Online Blog and Twitter account have been well received and we also hope to keep you well-informed in 2017.

While we agree that bibliometric data should be approached cautiously, we are obviously happy to see that the journal is doing very well across the board of different indicators (such as the Journal Citation Report by Thomson Reuters or Google Scholar). The best way for us to keep our standards high and publish exciting work is for you, our authors, reviewers, and readers, to continue to feed us with your great ideas, thorough analyses and commitment to excellence. Our pledge is to offer you what we hope is an efficient and fair review and publishing process, a journal that you not only like to read, but that also has a human face (as probably most editors, we also make mistakes, but we tend to learn from them as well).

In the meantime, the JEPP-team will take a short break over the holidays, and be back in action in 2017. Jeremy will be spending a typical Kiwi Christmas with Sonia, the girls, and Harvey, namely going to the Akaroa beach and having lot of BBQs, washed down with fine NZ wines. As an add-on he is having a paddle boarding lesson, aiming, at 74, to be the oldest paddle boarder in Akaroa. Berthold has agreed to write a nice Obituary in JEPP should this (foolish?) venture end in disaster!

Berthold will, as usual, spend the holiday break with Jessica and his in-laws in Florida, watching out for sharks and Trump motorcades on and off the beaches in Palm Beach County. If things get too hectic, he will have a drink or two on Seven Mile Beach on Grand Cayman (no, JEPP does not run an offshore business).

Michael will continue with his (pleasant) Sisyphean task from last year – trying to reduce the regrowing pile of books that he can reach from his couch. To prevent things from getting too comfortable, however, he registered for a winter half-marathon after the holiday break.

Philipp will escape the big smoke of London and spend his Christmas break with friends and family in Munich. No winter half-marathon, (hopefully) no Trump motorcades, just a blanket, a hot drink and plenty of time to catch up on some of the sleep that was lost throughout the past few months.

We wish all of you a happy holiday and relaxing season. See you next year!

Berthold, Jeremy, Michael, Philipp

The EU in crisis: EU studies in crisis?

“[T]he desire to be a predictive science causes us to imagine the world
to be far more predictable than it actually is.” (Blyth 2006, p. 493)

As the EU stumbles from crisis to crisis, which the Commission President has even referred to as an “existential crisis” in his state of the union address, can we as EU scholars continue with business as usual? Or should we rethink our ways of researching, teaching and communicating the EU?

Over the past decade, the EU has faced an unprecedented succession and accumulation of crises: the banking crisis has led to financial and sovereign debt crises, which have culminated in a Eurozone crisis; a democratic crisis does not merely beset EU-level decision-making, but seems to be a deliberate strategy of some EU governments championing ‘illiberal democracy’. The so-called refugee crisis has been a catalyst for populism and demands to ‘take back’, i.e. re-nationalize, political control. The Brexit referendum was a vivid illustration of these centrifugal forces in the EU and beyond (e.g. with US president-elect Trump calling himself ‘Mr. Brexit’).

For EU scholars, these crises have become primary objects of study, but they have not thrown EU studies into crisis. To the contrary: EU scholars have interpreted the EU’s crisis responses as yet another set of phenomena that can be studied by employing assumptions, theories, and methods that characterize our field. Why let a good crisis go to waste, if it can be analysed with the existing bodies of theories of integration, institutional change, and decision-making? Previous crises, big and small, have surely brought about shifts in the EU’s institutional architecture, they have affected the contentiousness and dynamics of EU policy-making, they have allowed us to assess and refine our theories, but they have hardly led us to re-evaluate our shared premise: that the EU, despite its inefficiencies and deficits, is here to stay.

During the days following the June 23rd vote, business as usual was hardly an option for those amongst us entering a classroom, or for those being asked by concerned relatives and friends. While we can help make sense of the Brexit vote, given the sophisticated commentary from our peers, the implications of the referendum might unleash more than ‘just’ another crisis: It might very well mark a moment of reckoning for us as political scientists and EU scholars. Have we overestimated the stability of the EU’s political system and its resilience to crises? Are some of our theories biased by equating more integration with successful problem-solving and do they hence insinuate a sense of stability, which, in fact, is more porous than solid? Or have we simply taken the EU too much for granted (alongside, possibly, with other political accomplishments of the liberal, democratic post-war order)? And, depending on our answers to these questions, what follows from this diagnosis for researching, teaching and communicating the EU?

We invite proposals (of max. 500 words) for individual contributions (of up to 5,000 words) to a JEPP debate section on this topic. Please, send your proposals by 12 February 2017 to and and do not hesitate to get in touch with either of them should you have any further questions.

Is the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) a ‘game-changer’ and threat to democracy?

Ferdi De Ville (Ghent University) & Gabriel Siles-Brügge (University of Warwick)

After a period of relative obscurity, EU trade policy has experienced a surge of interest, driven in large part by the negotiations on a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). Presented by its advocates as a boon to growth and jobs and a means of cementing transatlantic leadership of the global economy, and by its detractors as a threat to democracy itself, it has sparked a furious and very polarized debate amongst commentators and in the public sphere. This motivates the authors in this third JEPP debate section (after debates on Brexit and EU democracy) to focus on whether TTIP truly represents a ‘game-changer’ of a trade agreement and to what extent it undermines democratic decision-making. It begins with a contribution by Ferdi De Ville and Gabriel Siles-Brügge, who argue that TTIP is not only novel but that it also represents a subtle threat to democratic decision-making. Drawing on a constructivist theoretical tradition, they illustrate how the agreement is set up to entrench certain regulatory practices and discourses that see public interest regulation as a barrier to free markets. Dirk De Bièvre and Arlo Poletti, in contrast, draw on existing interest-based political economy explanations to argue that much of TTIP is ‘good old trade politics’. They also take issue with the argument that the agreement represents a threat to democracy, arguing that the prospective agreement respects the regulatory autonomy of the EU (and the US), since a supermajority is required to adopt any change to the EU regulatory status quo. Moreover, the agreement would be likely to lead to regulatory upgrading worldwide. Leif Johan Eliasson and Patricia García-Duran round off the debate by arguing that TTIP represents a geopolitical game-changer because it is the first time that a bilateral agreement (rather than the WTO) may provide the global public good of common standards for an economically interdependent world. They also suggest that the fears of opponents of TTIP are largely driven by their misplaced concern that the agreement will allow the US to impose lower standards on the EU.

Regulating online gambling in the EU

Des Laffey (Kent Business School) & Kathryn Laffey (Educational consultant)
Des Laffey (Kent Business School) & Kathryn Laffey (Educational consultant)

Throughout the past few years, online gambling has transitioned from a market beset with legal obscurity to an important source of revenue for EU member states. Online gambling, however, is bound to cause public regulators headaches since its economic benefits are not easily captured by the jurisdiction where activities take place. Instead, providers of gambling sites will often choose to set up shop where taxes are lowest. Analysing how the UK and Italy responded to the challenges of regulating the online gaming market, Des Laffey, Vincent Della Salla and Kathryn Laffey argue that different models of economic governance in EU member states are poor predictors of the regulatory instruments they chose. In their article “Patriot games: the regulation of online gambling in the European Union” published in the Journal of European Public Policy they argue that the UK and Italy chose to promote the interests of gambling operators, prioritising a steady flow of revenues over consumer and public health concerns.

Auditing from scratch?

Paul Stephenson (Maastricht University)
Paul Stephenson (Maastricht University)

Since its establishment in 1977, the European Court of Auditors has received its fair share of attention in the scholarly literature on EU institutions. Yet, we know surprisingly little about the control of expenditures of the European Communities prior to 1977. Paul Stephenson takes us on a historical journey, analysing how the Audit Board – beginning as a part-time agent of the Council – institutionalized the audit of the European communities from scratch. Read his article “Starting from scratch? Analysing early institutionalization processes: the case of audit governance” published in the Journal of European Public Policy to learn how the Audit Board struggled “to assert itself as a new player in the burgeoning institutional architecture of the Communities” and how we can best study such early institutionalization processes.

The drivers of trade union influence

Marc Hooghe (University of Leuven) & Jennifer Oser (Ben-Gurion University of the Negev)
Marc Hooghe (University of Leuven) & Jennifer Oser (Ben-Gurion University of the Negev)

Amid a widely shared perception that trade unions have lost their clout in shaping governments’ social policies, recent scholarship suggests that this development has been particularly prevalent in liberal market economies. In their article “Trade union density and social expenditure: a longitudinal analysis of policy feedback effects in OECD countries, 1980–2010” published in the Journal of European Public Policy, Marc Hooghe and Jennifer Oser find that trade unions boasting union density can press governments for higher social expenditures, however only in coordinated market economies. Their analysis also tells us that a government’s social expenditure influences trade unions’ density, suggesting that “the mobilization success of trade unions is partly dependent on the opportunities created by contextual political institutions”.

What can the EU do to protect democracy in Hungary and Poland?

demonstracja_komitetu_obrony_demokracji_04Accession to the EU is conditional upon the Copenhagen criteria, including respect for democracy and rule of law – but once a country has become EU member state, what can actually be done against national democratic backsliding? In Hungary, Viktor Orbán is implementing his vision of an “illiberal democracy” and the Polish “Law and Justice” (PiS) government is imitating Orbán’s reforms, e.g. by undermining the independence of the judiciary. JEPP’s second debate section (for the first debate on Brexit, see here; another debate on TTIP is forthcoming) draws on different strands of political science research to discuss the political feasibility and the (un)intended consequences of EU safeguards against member states’ democratic backsliding. Michael Blauberger and R. Daniel Kelemen adopt a compliance perspective and focus on judicial instruments. They argue that existing judicial instruments could be deployed more aggressively to resist democratic backsliding, but many innovative proposals run the risk of unduly politicizing European and national courts. Ulrich Sedelmeier explores the potential of political safeguards, drawing on insights from research on EU party politics, on the domestic impact of international institutions, and on EU accession conditionality. He concludes that the application of material sanctions is very unlikely for party-political reasons and the added value of facilitating their use is questionable, but social pressure can be effective under favorable conditions. Bernd Schlipphak and Oliver Treib approach the topic from a public opinion perspective and discuss the risk that EU intervention may produce unintended nationalist backlashes. They identify conditions under which such a rally-around-the-flag effect can be avoided, i.e. if EU safeguards build on domestic allies, clearly target governments rather than countries, and are based on an independent assessment of potential infringements against EU fundamental values.