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What we don’t talk about when we talk about carbon markets

Oscar Fitch-Roy (University of Exeter & Warwick Business School), Jenny Fairbrass (University of East Anglia) & David Benson (University of Exeter)

By Oscar Fitch-Roy, Jenny Fairbrass & David Benson

As witnessed at the recent session of the climate change Conference of the Parties in Madrid (COP25), carbon markets dominate discussion about climate change policy.

At times, it can seem difficult to talk about anything else.

But if everyone is talking about carbon markets, what are they not talking about? In our article “Ideas, coalitions and compromise: reinterpreting EU-ETS lobbying through discursive institutionalism” published in the Journal of European Public Policy, we examine an episode of reform of the EU emissions trading system in order to reveal the role of policy discourse in shaping advocacy strategies.

We argue that between 2012 and 2015, reforms to the EU-ETS in order to avert its collapse were aided by environmentalists’ efforts to mobilise businesses in favour of tighter rules. By skilfully creating new norms of collaborative working, a diverse and influential coalition of interests was assembled which appears to have contributed to bringing about the reforms.

However, the article goes on to make a case that this ‘policy entrepreneurship’ was only possible by framing the potential failure of the EU-ETS as the overriding problem faced by EU climate policy, a departure from the typical scepticism about carbon markets within the environmental movement. The article highlights that the ‘win’ of tighter EU-ETS rules came at the ‘cost’ of accepting and amplifying the ‘technology-neutral’ narrative of climate change mitigation favoured by fossil-fuel interests in which decisions are ‘left to the market’. Finally, we point out that further entrenching the idea of ‘technology-neutrality’ within the policy discourse may have implications beyond the original campaign. One of these is to weaken the position of advocates for technology-specific policies such as renewable energy targets or energy efficiency. This observation is especially pertinent given the notable failure of carbon markets to bring about the change needed to tackle the climate crisis to-date and ongoing doubts about their ability ever to do so.

Do burqa bans make us safer? Veil prohibitions and terrorism in Europe

Nilay Saiya (Nanyang Technological University) & Stuti Manchanda (Nanyang Technological University)

In recent years, restrictions on the wearing of Islamic face veils have been implemented in several European states. Supporters of such restrictions often point out that the wearing of face veils prevents Muslim women from integrating into European societies, thus creating populations vulnerable to radicalization. Further, some perceive the Islamic face veil as a symbol associated with terrorism or even a physical threat. In their article “Do burqa bans make us safer? Veil prohibitions and terrorism in Europe” published in the Journal of European Public Policy, Nilay Saiya and Stuti Manchanda offer evidence that bans on face veils do not foster national security. To the contrary Nilay and Stuti’s analysis of panel data for 28 European states between 2003 and 2017 shows that states which had restricted the wearing of Islamic face veils were more likely to experience terrorist events in response. Nilay and Stuti argue that rather than aiding cultural assimilation, limitations on religious dress engender grievances among Muslim populations and may even provoke violent backlash. Bans on face veils thus appear ill-suited to achieved their desired effect, ensuring national security. Nilay and Stuti’s findings underscore that “[i]t is important for governments to consider not only the human rights implications of restricting religious expression and women’s rights in the name of combatting terrorism, but the social, political and economic consequences as well.”

More Catholic than the Pope? Europeanisation, industrial policy and transnationalised capitalism in Eastern Europe

Visnja Vukov (Universitat Pompeu Fabra)

When several Central and Eastern European (CEE) states joined the EU in the mid-2000s, some observers feared that Europeanisation of national policies would remain shallow among the union’s latest members. Expecting compliance on paper only and poor implementation rates, institutional and policy changes would fail to be locked-in and remain at risk of reversal. Recent signs of resurging economic nationalism in some CEE states appear to confirm these fears. In her article “More Catholic than the Pope? Europeanisation, industrial policy and transnationalised capitalism in Eastern Europe” published in the Journal of European Public Policy, Visnja Vukov challenges these assessments by zooming in on national industrial policies. Visnja shows that CEE states have embraced horizontal state aid policies favoured by the EU and record even better compliance rates with EU state aid regulations than their Western neighbours. She attributes this somewhat puzzling pattern of ‘deep’ Europeanisation of industrial policies in CEE states to EU pre-accession conditionality and EU-led efforts to support institution-building. Visnja concludes that “[t]ogether, these elements played a key role in shifting domestic developmental strategies towards FDI-oriented ones, and building capacities for EU compliant industrial policies.”

Regulating the audit market in the European Union: who dominates, who loses?

Armin Mertens (University of Cologne)

Given the large number of interest groups that vie for the attention of decision-makers in EU institutions, questions surrounding which groups tend to succeed in translating their concerns into legislative text continue to be hotly debated among observers of EU policy-making. In his article “Regulating the audit market in the European Union: who dominates, who loses?” published in the Journal of European Public Policy, Armin Mertens offers a novel approach on how to empirically study the influence different interest groups exert on EU policy-making. Rather than analysing interest groups’ preference attainment across different policies, Armin splits the text of a single piece of legislation on the EU’s audit market regulation into its constituent issues and evaluates interest groups’ success in getting their issue-specific concerns across. Further, instead of assuming that business groups voice homogenous interests, he distinguishes between large firms and small and medium-sized enterprises. Armin argues that these refinements in measuring interest groups’ influence are warranted, as his empirical results present a more nuanced picture than what existing research would have us expect. Armin’s analysis shows that “a general statement about the success of specific interest groups across all issues is difficult to make: interest group success in preference attainment depends heavily on issue salience and the size of issue-specific policy coalitions.”