Consortium Leader: Netherlands Institute of International Relations ‘Clingendael’
Subcontractors: Centre for European Reform (CER), Bruegel, European Policy Centre (EPC), Carnegie Europe, Institut français des relations internationales (IFRI)

Towards a realistic contingency approach to negotiations

Submitted by Inge on Thu, 04/16/2020 - 16:15

One of the most praised elements of the workings of the European Union (EU) is its ability to reach compromises between its Member States. Yet, evidently, the integration process of the EU is also characterised by protracted decision-making, resulting in poorly-functioning policies in domains that are highly politicised, like migration, enlargement and Eurozone policy. Even when difficult compromises could be stuck, compromising on salient political issues has proven to be problematic in several ways: policies are not functioning as intended because some of their actual consequences were unforeseen; policies are not functioning as well because they were poorly thought through; policy initiatives have suffered from questionable (ideological or overoptimistic) assumptions; policies suffer from poor substantiation; or policies stretch the interpretations of EU treaties (also known as creeping integration), for example in taxation policy. Difficulties related to enlargement, the functioning of the eurozone and border control can be related to the dynamics in the ways in which compromises were substantiated and agreed. One simple solution, often is to streamline EU decision making e.g. by abolishing unanimity voting in sensitive areas such as in economic governance. Before going down that road, this policy brief critically examines whether institutional short-cuts to pre-empt tough and protracted EU decision making should be supported.

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The authors

Adriaan Schout (Senior Research Fellow at the Clingendael Institute)

Adriaan Nunes (Junior Researcher at the Clingendael Institute)


Nederland zoekt nieuwe Europese ankers

Submitted by Inge on Fri, 12/20/2019 - 12:22

Het jaar 2019 was in twee opzichten een kanteljaar. Na de verkiezingen in mei is een nieuwe Europese Commissie aangetreden met opnieuw grote ambities. De grote ambities van Juncker zijn deels vastgelopen op de lidstaten en hetzelfde dreigt te gebeuren met de ambities van Von der Leyen. Ten tweede sluit 2019 een woelig decennium af. De lessen van de afgelopen periode zijn essentieel om het draagvlak in de jaren 2020 te bewaken. Kwaliteit van beleid en van het gezamenlijke Europese bestuur moeten voorop staan.


Adriaan Schout


Comparative Trends in EU Governance

Submitted by Inge on Thu, 07/04/2019 - 15:16

From the ‘Ordinary’ Method to the Transgovernmental Method?

We observe an emerging split between policy areas that are governed by the Community/Ordinary method, such as more technical single market issues, and politically sensitive policy areas that are governed by what is usually termed as “intergovernmentalism.” However, the governance structures that we see emerging in politically sensitive policy areas cannot be properly described as “intergovernmental” because they display a stable set of new interinstitutional relations, in which the European Commission also plays a varying role, albeit that the Member States overall have a more pronounced role. Hence, we see a shift from “the” interinstitutional balance to the emergence of two different interinstitutional balances: the Ordinary method and the Transgovernmental method.

Transgovernmentalism is characterised by a bigger role for the Member States and a less strategic role for the Commission (and hence the EP and European Court of Justice) compared to the Ordinary method, but goes beyond simple intergovernmental governance, because it is clearly based on standing European practices, meetings with defined procedures and reporting mechanisms. Evidently, the role of the European Parliament is different in both areas. The consequence for the further development of defence policy is that we assume that it will develop along the lines of transgovernmental governance, even though the European Commission and potentially other EU institutions might favour the “efficiency” of a single, Ordinary method, with a more focal role for the European Commission in the interinstitutional balance.

About the authors

Adriaan Schout is Senior Research Fellow and Coordinator Europe at the Clingendael Institute. He combines research and consultancy on European governance questions for national and European institutions. He has worked amongst others on projects addressing issues of the EU presidency, EU integration and improving EU regulation.

Dick Zandee is Head of the Security Unit and Senior Research Fellow at the Clingendael Institute. His research focuses on security and defence issues, including strategies, policies, capability development, research and technology, armaments cooperation and industrial aspects.

Wouter Zweers is a Junior Researcher at the ´Europe in the World´ unit of the Clingendael Institute. His research revolves around the external dimension of EU policy making, focussing specifically on the European Neighbourhood Policy, EU enlargement policies and migration.

Julian Mühlfellner is a Research Assistant at the ‘Europe and the EU’ unit of the Clingendael Institute, where he focusses on the role of the European Commission and the European Parliament in EU governance.

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