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.
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”.
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.