Divided we stand

Míchéal O’Keefe (European Central Bank) & Marta Wieczorek (European Central Bank)

The quest for a solution to the European financial crisis has produced divisions inside the European Parliament. Nonetheless, Mícheál O’Keeffe, Marion Salines and Marta Wieczorek show that internal divisions did not shape the EP’s external negotiation strategy in trilogues with the European Commission and the Council. Their article “The European Parliament’s strategy in EU economic and financial reform” published in the Journal of European Public Policy illustrates that the EP opted for similar bargaining tactics when it stands united (financial supervision) and when it is divided, as in the case of economic governance reforms. In both instances, parliamentarians placed a premium on legitimacy and transparency concerns with regard to the EU’s response to the crisis.

The logics of NGO advocacy

Wiebke Marie Junk
Wiebke Marie Junk (University of Copenhagen)

Commission consultations with NGOs link European policy-makers with civil society and represent an essential feature of participatory democracy in the EU. Analysing NGOs’ lobbying strategies on environmental policy in the EU, Wiebke Marie Junk argues that public consultations “may enhance the ‘participatory’, but not necessarily the ‘democratic’, nature of ‘participatory democracy’ in the EU”. To find out more read her article “Two logics of NGO advocacy: understanding inside and outside lobbying on EU environmental policies” published in the Journal of European Public Policy.

A European healthcare union in the making?

Hans Vollard (Leiden University), Hester van de Bovenkamp (Erasmus University Rotterdam) & Dorte Sindbjerg Martinsen (University of Copenhagen)

If you are a savvy traveller in Europe, you have probably come across the European Health Insurance Card, which grants European residents free access to a number of healthcare services in any EU member state. Yet, healthcare policies continue to be mainly a national prerogative. Hans Vollaard, Hester van de Bovenkamp and Dorte Sindbjerg Martinsen show, nevertheless, that the EU has become increasingly involved in the public health decisions of its member states. Read their article “The making of a European healthcare union: a federalist perspective” published in the Journal of European Public Policy to learn more about how a co-operative federative system is shaping the provision of healthcare in the EU.

When policy masquerades as science

Sarah Hartley (University of Nottingham)

Independent scientific advice is highly valued by the Commission in preparing regulatory decisions. At the same time, there is broad agreement that risk assessment is rarely value free and hence requires involvement from private and public interest groups. In “Policy masquerading as science: an examination of non-state actor involvement in European risk assessment policy for genetically modified animals” published in the Journal of European Public Policy, Sarah Hartley shows how the European Food Safety Authority together with the Commission eschewed the input provided by non-scientists and public stakeholders in preparing its policy decisions: “This study joins a growing number of cases suggesting experts move beyond influencing policy to actually making policy.”

Changing the rules

Christer Karlsson (Uppsala University)

To comply with the demands of EU accession, new member states see themselves compelled to revamp their constitutions, which often implies far-reaching constitutional changes. But political elites choose different strategies of constitutional change. According to Christer Karlsson, reformers can alter the explicit wording of their constitution or its implicit meaning. Their choice of strategy is not only shaped by the rigidity of constitutional amendment procedures and the number of governing parties that need to be brought on board, but also by how politicized the issue at stake actually is. Read the full story in his article “Explaining constitutional change: making sense of cross-national variation among European Union member states”, published in the Journal of European Public Policy.

Happy 2016!

The entire JEPP-team wishes you a happy, healthy and successful 2016. JEPP has had a very healthy 2015 with a record number of submissions, surpassing 330 by the end of the year. We hope that you will continue to keep us busy in 2016. In our first newsletter of the new year, we will highlight new journal content, which will appear shortly in the second issue of the 2016 volume.

We also want to draw your attention to the first issue of 2016, which we released last December. With its focus on the Euro crisis, it may look like a Special Issue, but – we promise – it is not. Based on independent submissions, we were able to put together an exciting collection of pieces addressing different facets of the Euro crisis. Wolfgang Streeck and Lea Elsässer discuss the viability of EMU under conditions of continued economic disparities among its members; George Tsebelis explores some of the lessons that the Greek and other EU governments can draw from the Greek crisis; Sergio Fabbrini compares the EU with other unions of states and argues that the EU’s institutional set-up obstructs rather than facilitates the adoption of constitutional solutions in situations such as the Euro crisis. For Philipp Genschel and Markus Jachtenfuchs, EU integration has made remarkable advances in ‘core state powers’ and they contrast the EU experience with state-building dynamics. Stefaan De Rynck provides a fascinating account of the policy process through which the EU adopted a centralized system of banking supervision. James D. Savage and Amy Verdun show that the Euro crisis has left a firm imprint on the Commission, which adapted its internal organisation and strategies to re-gain influence in the crisis-induced integration process. The crisis has had an impact not only on domestic and EU-level institutions: Alina Polyakova and Neil Fligstein ask if the crisis has transformed public attitudes “causing Europe to become more nationalist?”

With the Euro crisis turning into some kind of permanent state of affairs, it is likely to keep you (and us) busy in 2016. In terms of political and media attention, the Euro crisis has already been surpassed by the refugee crisis. We thus encourage you to send us your work to help us better understand the refugee crisis in all its variegated facets, its dynamics and impact on the EU and domestic institutions, political competition and policy reform. Crises also loom elsewhere: The domestic developments in Hungary and Poland have triggered wider discussions about ‘democratic backsliding’. The possibility of ‘Brexit’ is still looming and raises a plethora of questions about the trajectory of the EU. While we welcome work on all of these topics, rest assured that JEPP is not a crisis journal! We will continue to publish work on European and EU politics and policy-making in the broadest possible sense. Or as Jeremy would say: We are a “broad church”, though a secular one.

Take care,

Berthold & Jeremy