At the EU level, policy outputs reflect compromises between a wide range of actors. Amongst these actors, the European Parliament takes up a special position since it is the only directly elected EU institution. To further shed light on the EP’s role in this complex policy-making process, in his recently published article, Rory Costello examines how the EP’s ideological positioning feeds into legislative negotiations. Covering the period between 1999 and 2019, Rory finds that the policy positions adopted by the EP more closely reflect the ideological profile of the major party groups (the EPP, S&D and ALDE) than the median MEP. In addition, the EP tends to adopt a pro-integration position in line with its ideological composition, but there is no evidence of a systematic policy bias towards integration relative to the member states. Overall, the findings indicate that MEPs adhere to the policy programs on which they were elected and do not prioritize increasing the influence of the EP through deeper integration. The EP, thus, seems to be more responsive to the voters than some critics might suspect.
Even though most Council delegations are composed of coalitions of ideologically diverse parties, its members are often conceptualized as a single player per member state. Questioning the monolithic interpretation of national interests in the Council, Petia Kostadinova and Amie Kreppel investigate in their article the extent to which partisan differences within government coalitions manifest themselves in the positions expressed within the Council. They argue that delegations consist of multiple actors who might have different preferences than the partners in the national government. To account for the potential preference divergence, Petia and Amie analyze the differences between the policy position of each member state in the Council and the preferences of the respective governing coalitions between 1996-2018. The analyses demonstrate that ministers can indeed shape a state’s position to align more closely with their own preferences rather than to one of their coalition partners. Coalition agreements, however, reduce policy drift, possibly because they constrain ministers or because they reduce the minister’s need to shift policy outcomes since they represent policy compromises. Overall, this study suggests that when analyzing decision-making at the EU level, future research should take into consideration that member states in the Council are not necessarily unitary actors.
Freedom of movement is one of the key principles of EU integration and has provoked mixed attitudes in particular in Eastern Europe: While public support for free movement is high, negative externalities of this principle, such as population loss, become increasingly noticeable. Against this background, Christof Roos explores in his article EU responses to the expectation gap between the policy design of free movement (e.g. export of surplus labour, remittances) and its outcomes (e.g. brain drain, labour shortage). Based on content analysis of scholarly literature, EU documents and English language news outlets from 2010 to 2020, Christof demonstrates that Central and Eastern European governments managed to transform national discontent with the effects of freedom of movement into a call for compensation. To respond to the policy’s negative externalities, the overall setting of the principle of freedom of movement has only changed slightly. Instead, through the process of ‘institutional layering’ new compensatory measures were introduced to the freedom of movement framework in order to account for population loss. With these findings, the article implies that this strategy of institutional layering allows to incrementally change policy frameworks while preserving the status quo of key principles.
Postfunctionalist scholarship has long argued that EU integration leads to the politicization of European policymaking accompanied by growing public objection to additional transfers of authority to the EU-level. Yoav Raskin and Tal Sadeh explore the mechanism through which European integration increases voters’ support for political parties that oppose the transfer of authority in their article “Responsive voters – how European integration empowers Eurosceptic parties”. As a result of a mixed-method design, they find that the timing and type of EU events matter. Eurosceptic parties particularly benefit from integration events that have a potential for high media profile, signal reduced state autonomy, and occur in proximity to national elections. Even if mainstream parties counter the claims of Eurosceptic parties, the net effect is a ratcheting up of electoral support for the latter. By creating a salient political issue that crosscuts mainstream cleavages and empowers Eurosceptic parties, the authors project that European integration may become increasingly self-undermining through empowering its own opposition.
International institutions often take recourse to pretrial bargaining procedures to prevent accidental noncompliance with international law arising from, for example, government misinterpretation or lack of administrative capacity. Pretrial bargaining allows settling cases involving accidental noncompliance before going to court, which frees up resources for cases involving intentional noncompliance. In their article “Improving the efficiency of pretrial bargaining in disputes over noncompliance with international law: encouraging evidence from the European Union”, Sivaram Cheruvu and Joshua Fjelstul investigate how international institutions can improve the efficiency of pretrial bargaining. Their analysis of EU Pilot, a policy initiative designed to enhance the efficiency of pretrial bargaining in the EU, yields promising results. As such, EU Pilot significantly improves the efficiency of pretrial bargaining, speeding up the initial phase of bargaining by approximately 74 days. The authors summarize their findings with a piece of advice geared at policymakers seeking to counter noncompliance: “improving communication with implementing actors during the policy implementation process is a viable policy solution to improve the efficiency of bargaining in pretrial dispute-settlement procedures without resorting to sanctioning mechanisms.”
In any democratic system, political decision-makers should shape policies according to public preferences. In the context of the EU, the public-to-policy linkage is often thought to be weak. In their article “A responsive relationship? setting the political agenda in the European Union”, Magda Giurcanu and Petia Kostadinova research the extent to which the European Commission responds to the preferences of the European public. They find that the Commission’s efforts to respond to public dissatisfaction with the EU already began during the first Barroso Presidency. The comparison between Europarties’ pledges issued during the 2004 EP elections and subsequent Commission policy priorities reveals that the Commission and the EP generally address the same topics in their public statements. Three conditions facilitate the Commission’s consideration of the EP’s agenda: (1) when levels of Euroscepticism are high, both in terms of principled opposition and critical positions towards European integration; (2) when the public cares deeply about the policies under consideration; and (3) when the topic of the policy proposal falls under a Commission Directorate best described as friendly to the public. Thus, the authors conclude that despite being an unelected body, the Commission strategically responds to pressures from below by taking into account the EP’s policy agenda in its policy priorities.
The 2020 Journal Citation Reports release by Clarivate Analytics sees JEPP’s impact factor increase from 4.177 in 2019 to 7.339 in 2020 (note that the increase in the impact factor score is – in parts – due to the fact that Clarivate changed the way how the impact factors were calculated). JEPP thus continues to be ranked in the top 10 of all Political Science journals (6/182) and now ranks top in the Public Administration category (1/47).
JEPP was also able to hold on to its excellent third place in the 2021 Google Scholar Metrics ranking for Political Science, with an h-index of 63, up from 55 (only APSR and AJPS have slightly higher scores).
To top off yet another year of good news, JEPP continues to do very well on CiteScore provided by Scopus, with a score of 8.1 (up from 7.7), which implies that JEPP is ranked 2/165 in Public Administration and 20/1269 in the catch-all Sociology and Political Science category.
We won’t tire of thanking our family of authors who have chosen JEPP as the venue to publish their research, our board members and reviewers for their outstanding and continuing support, and our readers without whom JEPP would have never made it this far!
In view of the current COVID-19 pandemic, access to medicines has moved centre-stage in national health policy debates. One prominent point of contention is the development of a permanent system of EU joint procurement. Since the issue of joint procurement is politically contested, Sharon Baute and Anniek de Ruijter investigate potential dividing lines in their recently published article “EU health solidarity in times of crisis: explaining public preferences towards EU risk pooling for medicines”. Drawing on data from a conjoint experiment carried out among 10,000 respondents from five European member states, the authors find that Euroscepticism most strongly explains individual preferences over the design of EU risk pooling for medicines. By contrast, egalitarian ideology plays only a minor role. Beyond the pro versus anti EU-integration divide, the specificities of the COVID-19 pandemic raise a crisis-driven rationale through which citizens evaluate the desirability of alternative EU risk pooling designs. Across the whole spectrum of ideological and EU integration attitudes, the support for EU health solidarity strongly depends on medical need. Overall, these findings lend support for policymakers aiming to integrate welfare policy and build a stronger Social Europe.
Interest groups frequently attempt to influence public policy by lobbying legislators. For decades, it has been debated whether lobbying benefits or undermines the democratic process. On the one hand, it may privilege some public preferences over others. On the other hand, it may help legislators to better understand citizens’ interests. In their recent article “Interest group tactics and legislative behaviour: how the mode of communication matters“, Oliver Huwyler and Shane Martin argue that the answer depends on how precisely lobbying is shaping legislative behaviour. Building on social presence theory, they expect that lobbying tactics with more direct contact are more likely to influence legislators’ behaviour. The analysis of all 217,886 lobbying attempts in the Irish Parliament between 2015 and 2019 and 167,347 parliamentary questions tabled by Irish legislators shows that lobbying tactics where communication is synchronous and rich in non-verbal cues, such as facial expressions, gestures, and vocalics, is indeed more effective. In their conclusion, the authors hint at potential implications for representative democracy: “For better or worse, lobbying impacts what legislators do, and different communication tactics can be more or less effective.“
How do governments convince profit-oriented banks to provide liquidity to firms in need? To shed light on that question, Elsa Clara Massoc analyzes the elaboration and implementation of state-guaranteed credit programs (SGCPs) during the COVID-19 crisis in her article “Having banks ‘play along’ state-bank coordination and state-guaranteed credit programs during the COVID-19 crisis in France and Germany”. The COVID-19 crisis constitutes a particularly puzzling case as no bank would, from a commercial point of view, willfully grant cheap and copious credit to struggling firms in the context of a global pandemic. SGCPs were specifically designed to make banks do so, nevertheless. Building on a comparative process analysis of SGCPs in France and Germany, Elsa shows that it has been less costly for the French government to convince their banks to provide liquidity as German banks obtained better terms for their participation in their national SCGP. The variation stems from differences in the institutionalized state-bank modes of coordination: In France, state-bank coordination is characterized by mutual trust among a small number of socially homogeneous groups used to close cooperation. By contrast, state-bank coordination is weaker in Germany. As a consequence, state officials have to resort to monetary incentives to persuade banks. State-led credit allocation may prove an essential tool in maintaining modern states’ capacity to govern in economic crises, and different modes of coordination between states and banks are instructive for how states are able to meet that challenge.