In light of the so-called ‘refugee crisis’ of 2015, the EU founded the European Union Emergency Trust Fund for Africa (‘EUTF’) to address ‘root causes’ of migration through preventive measures in countries of origin. EU policymakers adopted this framing of aid as a tool to prevent migratory movements even though it contradicts the broad academic consensus that development makes migration more likely. To understand how the misleading ‘root causes’ narrative gained political traction, Natasha Zaun and Olivia Nantermoz assess how EU policymakers created the assumption that development aid reduces migration flows in their recently published article “The use of pseudo-causal narratives in EU policies: the case of the European Union Emergency Trust Fund for Africa”. The frame analyses demonstrate that policy actors used the ‘root cause’ narrative against better evidence in order to signal that the EU actively responded to the ‘crisis’. It allowed the European Commission to rally support and reassert its legitimacy at a time when criticism over its inability to resolve the internal struggles became increasingly strong. The findings imply that even technocratic actors, which are expected to base their work on expertise and knowledge, strategically promote unwarranted causal narratives to legitimize their role politically when they are under pressure
The recently published article “Externalising internal policies via conflict: the EU’s indirect influence on international institutions” by Manuel Becker proposes an innovative causal mechanism of how the EU might – intentionally or unintentionally – compel external institutions to adjust to EU policies. Manuel Becker argues that if European regulatory policies cause important European market actors to suspend the rules and obligations of other institutions, the EU can create a conflict that undermines the effectiveness of international institutions. To dissolve this conflict, external institutions need to enable mutual compliance for European market actors by realigning its policies towards European objectives. To test this proposed mechanism, the EU’s externalization of data protection to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) and the externalization of European fundamental rights to the UN Security Council (UNSC) serve as cases. Process-tracing reveals that the EU has indeed leverage over international institutions’ policies under specific conditions: The European actors’ market share needs to be sufficiently important to the international institution. The UNSC e.g. adapted its policies after the European Court of Justice ruled that European private banks have to release financial assets of individuals and entities connected to Al-Qaida since the UNSC’s listing procedures violated European fundamental rights. In this case, the EU had great leverage over the functionality of the international sanctions regime as the Eurozone had by far the biggest banking sector and thus was considered a central player. Overall, the article implies that creating a vertical regulatory conflict can serve as an indirect tool of influence and can enhance the EU’s status as an independent player in international regulation.