Meeting expectations in the EU regulatory state? How EU agencies navigate conflicting demands in their communications

Madalina Busuioc (Leiden University) & Dovilė Rimkutė (Leiden University)

The European Union’s regulatory agencies enjoy a comprehensive portfolio of competences and play a critical role at several stages of the EU’s policy-making process. They supply the European Commission with independent expertise, set standards in specific policy areas and monitor the implementation of EU rules. This broad set of powers comes with a catch, however: EU agencies need to cultivate their organisational reputation among external audiences to foster their autonomy from political actors, yet due to their various roles tend to face conflicting expectations from these audiences. In their article “Meeting expectations in the EU regulatory state? Regulatory communications amid conflicting institutional demands” published in the Journal of European Public Policy, Madalina Busuioc and Dovilė Rimkutė explore how EU regulatory agencies respond to the expectations of multiple audiences. Madalina and Dovilė develop a novel dictionary to analyse the text of every annual report published by the EU’s regulatory agencies and identify which aspects of their reputation agencies emphasise, how these vary over time, and why. Results of their analysis suggest that EU regulatory agencies become more strategic over time in their communication and diversify their reputational repertoire: “[r]ather than boldly venturing into ‘moral’ legitimation grounds, their communication efforts have expanded into performative aspects, consistent with the EU’s regulatory state output legitimation criteria for its regulators.”

Legal framing and the EU’s external relations: how NGOs shaped the negotiations for an Israel-Europol cooperation agreement

Patrick Müller (University of the Basque Country) & Peter Slominski (University of Vienna)

A multitude of actors at the national and supranational level typically have a stake in the EU’s relationship with third countries. Governmental and non-governmental actors seek to frame debates over the EU’s external relations in ways that suit their own interests. In their article “Legal framing and the EU’s external relations: how NGOs shaped the negotiations for an Israel-Europol cooperation agreement” published in the Journal of European Public Policy, Patrick Müller and Peter Slominski highlight that a recourse to legal arguments can give actors with limited power resources the upper hand in shaping the EU’s foreign policy. Patrick and Peter argue that strategies of legal framing, encompassing intimate knowledge of and an ability to align arguments with the laws regulating conduct in a legal community, allow non-governmental organizations to leave their mark on the EU’s external relations. Their analysis of the negotiations on the Israel-Europol agreement shows that an EU-registered civil society organization, the MATTIN Group, employed various strategies of legal framing, highlighting that a draft text of the agreement would have been inconsistent with the EU’s legal position, and ultimately convincing EU officials to include additional conditions in their negotiations with their Israeli counterparts. The evidence presented by Patrick and Peter illustrates that by connecting its legal reasoning with a stable understanding of the law within the EU, the MATTIN Group managed “to develop a powerful legal frame, which finally prevailed in the intra-EU debate despite a strong political interest to reach an agreement.”