Ongoing PhD projects
Informal Governance in European Migration management: Coordination of Asylum Policies among EU Member States.
The development of a European asylum policy continues to depend on decision-making at both the EU and the national level, with the latter relying on important, albeit informal coordination and information exchanges among the member states. This project seeks to investigate the interplay between formal EU decision-making processes and informal coordination mechanism. In particular, it focuses on the impact of the EU’s institutional structures such as working groups in the Council of Ministers, implementing committees with the European Commission and EU agencies in order to explore the degree to which these act as transmission belts of policy convergence among EU member states. One particular area for a fruitful investigation of these dynamics of informal governance is the definition of which states are to be considered as ‘safe countries of origin’. This constitutes a crucial basis in the context of any decision by member state authorities whether or not it is safe to send an applicant back to his or her country of origin. In line with the 1957 Geneva Convention a person may not be sent back if ‘his [or her] life or freedom would be threatened on account of his race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion.’ In a first step, the project requires an analysis of both formal and informal structures within the EU in order to find out how information on third countries is shared. In a second step, a list of safe countries of origin in the 27 EU member states will be compiled. This comparative analysis will allow for a systematic evaluation of the extent and direction of a possible EU induced process of convergence. In a third step, selected case studies will be conducted to investigate in a more in-depth manner how the practice of sharing and exchanging information at the European level impacts on the way in which the concept of safe country of origin is institutionalized at the domestic level.
PhD candidate: Claudia Engelmann
The Politics of Information Processing in EU Agencies
Since the 1990s an increasing number of semi-independent administrative bodies have been set up in the European Union (EU). The ‘mushrooming’ of EU agencies is in line with the international trend of ‘agencification’ at the national level. They can be understood as complementing the administrative capacities of the European Commission and the Member States and cover a wide variety of policy fields (e.g. pharmaceuticals, aviation, trademarks, vocational training). Agencies differ considerably in terms of their mandate and may a) adopt binding decisions, b) provide technical assistance, c) implement operational activities or d) simply organise data gathering and dissemination. However, agencies share certain expectations enshrined in their establishment in the first place. One important rationale is their supposed distance from the political tugs of war and consequently their ability to make credible decisions based on expertise rather than partisan considerations. All agencies regardless of their mandate are therefore centres of expertise in which specific knowledge on technical and highly complex issues is bundled. This role is facilitated by networks comprising the EU agency as well as national agencies and other relevant stakeholders. These networks form the institutional frame of EU agency governance. Accordingly, most academic research acknowledges the importance of information networks with regard to policy making. What is largely missing however are systematic examinations of how technical information affects agency governance and whether this information influences administrative and political decision making beyond legal arrangements of power. Put differently: this PhD thesis aims to investigate whether the factor information processing provides actors in a certain governance formation with opportunity structures which enable them to exert influence beyond their formal mandate. This research issue is thus based on the assumption that technical information is neither apolitical nor incontestable and that different forms of processing information entail direct consequences for the eventual distribution of the costs and benefits of regulation.
PhD candidate: Christoph Klika
Implementation of the Open method of Coordination in the field of Employment Policy in the Netherlands: Process and Impact
The renewed dynamism of European integration from the beginning of the 1990s has generated a variety of new patterns of EU steering. One of the latest governance additions to the toolbox of European integration instruments is the Open Method of Co-ordination (OMC). This research project aims to discover what the capacity and the limits of this new method of political steering to induce policy change in the member states of the EU. There are particular elements in the governance mechanism the OMC introduces that are challenging from an academic perspective. Central to the novel mode of EU governance is that the process of political steering relies on incentives and learning rather than on coercion stemming from legal obligation. Furthermore, both the policy formulation and policy implementation remain with the member states, yet the EU level is involved in the process of strategic policy formulation by endorsement of common goals and quantitative targets. Moreover, within the method of open coordination, the EU level is actively involved in monitoring of implementation and evaluation of performance (bi-/annual reviews, benchmarking and good practice exercises, in some OMC processes policy recommendations). Given these novelties in the governance ‘formula’, it is challenging to study whether and to what degree the OMC achieves its primary objectives i.e. stimulation of national reforms, and generation of cross-national policy-learning. Subsequently, the research project aims to address the following questions: - Does and how does the OMC affect the policy-making in the member states of the EU? - What are limits of the OMC method? The project examines the application of OMC in Employment policy since this is the most elaborate form of the OMC so far. In particular, assessed are the effects of the Employment OMC on the policy-making process in the Netherlands after the introduction of the European Employment Strategy (EES) with a particular focus on its fourth pillar (Gender equality) and the subsequent guidelines on reconciliation of work and family life and the 33% Barcelona summit target in the field of childcare provision policy. The analytical framework stems from constructivist assumptions and applies policy frame analysis as the main research method.
PhD candidate: Elissaveta Radulova
Supervisor: Prof. Tannelie Blom
Migration, development and EU external relations: the Mobility Partnerships
Within the framework of the IS-Academy Partnership on Migration and Development: A World in Motion (coordinated by the Maastricht Graduate School of Governance and funded by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs), this project will provide an evaluation of the EU’s new Mobility Partnerships. These partnerships are agreed between individual third countries and EU member states (who sign up to participate in the various partnerships on an opt-in basis), and consist of a series of proposed bilateral projects in the area of migration. So far, pilot partnerships have been agreed with Cape Verde and Moldova, and are being negotiated with Senegal and Georgia. Little has yet been written on the Mobility Partnerships, however in the future they will form an important part of EU foreign policy in the context of ‘Mobility and Security Pacts’ to be offered to partner countries. The PhD project seeks to understand the process of decision-making underlying the Mobility Partnerships and the impact this will have on the implementation of projects. In particular, the partnerships raise several interesting questions which will be dealt within the research: first, decision-making on the partnerships is intergovernmental, meaning that member states choose whether or not to join. This naturally raises the question why some member states (for example France) choose to join and others (for example the United Kingdom) do not. Decision-making is likely to be further affected by inter- and intra-institutional dynamics at EU level – in terms of inter-institutional relations, it is assumed that there is a difference between the justice and home affairs officials in the Council and the development and external relations officials in the Commission. However, even within the Commission there may be a divide between justice and home affairs officials (who tend to side with the Council) and development and external relations officials. It is also interesting to question the role of partner countries in shaping the agreements – partnership with third countries is a key principle in the EU’s migration policy, but scholars have pointed out that in the past this has not translated into an ability of third countries to shape agreements. Finally, the research will examine the ability of the Mobility Partnerships to achieve coherence between migration policy, development policy and foreign policy, and the relation between the partnerships and other EU policies towards the countries concerned (such as the European Neighbourhood Policy and the Cotonou Agreement).
PhD candidate: Natasja Reslow
Multinationals and European politics through transnational study and pressure groups, 1945-1989
The Single European Act in 1986, aiming at ‘completing’ the European market as it was intended with the Rome Treaties of 1957, has partly been understood as a consequence of a transnational business lobby through the rekindling of the fire behind some, rather ancient, ideas on market integration. With respect to earlier episodes of European integration however, the perception has taken hold that before the early 1980’s international business was hardly aware of the developments on the supranational level, busy with rebuilding their industries or GATT negotiations. This suggestion paints a picture of enlightened industrialists that could only have existed in the early 1980’s, and thus signaling a profound discontinuity with the decades of European integration before the 1980.
The project starts from the assumption that the activity of business in the events leading to the Single European Act did not represent an extraordinary situation but was rather an expression of continuity, already emerging in the 1950’s, when transnational groups took an active role in generating ideas for Europe’s future. This project aims at showing the continuity of this activity through an investigation of four transnational study and pressure groups, active between 1945 and 1989. The selected groups included a significant amount of representatives from multinational industry and banking from Europe and the United States of America. In addition to a general investigation and comparison of the groups, per decade from 1950 until 1989, an ongoing debate with respect to European integration will be analysed across all four groups. Finally the role of business representatives in the groups and the debates will be analysed in the light of relevant ideologies driving European integration.
Through this approach the project examines the continuity of business activity on a transnational level with regard to European integration since WWII. This strategy moreover questions to what extent ideas and attitude of American and European businessmen of multinational industry and banking adapted to Europe’s developing economic and political order. Finally it investigates business’ involvement in the generation of ideas on European integration.
PhD candidate: Ruud Geven
Supervisor: Prof. Ernst Homburg
Formal and informal mechanisms of cooperation in EU external relations. A case study on the European Commission
The European Union manifests itself in many different ways in EU external relations: through its trade policy, development cooperation, humanitarian aid, and the Common Foreign and Security Policy. The coordination of these different foreign policy activities is not only a problem for inter-institutional cooperation in the EU policymaking process, it also challenges the capacity of individual institutions to speak with one voice. An extra complication is that that the different policies have their own decision making procedures and follow a different integration logic. While the first pillar follows the supranational Community method, the second pillar of CFSP is based on intergovernmental cooperation.
This PhD project examines institutional consistency in the European Commission. Through a series of case studies, it identifies and analyses the organisational structures, the legal instruments and procedures and the informal practices to coordinate EU external relations amongst the various Commissioners and Directorates General. It analyses how this (lack of) coordination affects its relations with other institutional players such as the Council and the European Parliament and links it to the broader question of the EU’s international role.
PhD candidate: Anne-Claire Marangoni
Conditions of efficient parliamentary scrutiny in EU affairs after the Treaty of Lisbon
The provisions of the Lisbon Treaty have consolidated old and provided new opportunities for national parliaments’ participation at the EU level politics. Nonetheless, it is yet to be seen how exactly the mechanisms of efficient parliamentary scrutiny in EU affairs have changed after the adoption of the Lisbon Treaty. The results of the study will not only help understand how national parliaments adapt to the changes of the EU structure but will also provide clues as to how the EU polity and Europeanisation processes develop in the future. Enhanced efficiency of parliamentary scrutiny might mitigate the “democratic deficit” of the European Union and change the patterns of national interest promotion at the EU level. On the contrary, if the Treaty of Lisbon doesn’t manage to activate the national parliaments or the domestic legislatures don’t perceive it as on opportunity to increase their power and credibility, than the trend towards “intensive transgovernmentalism” within the EU might develop further. The research is a qualitatively-orientated comparative prospective case-study, drawing on the experience of Sweden, Czech Republic and Romania. Hence, the study deals extensively with the experience of the “new” Central and Eastern European member-states. This not only examines a previously under-researched area of study but can also provide answers as to how the “newcomers” engage with the EU political system and how they influence the process of Europeanisation. The PhD project will concentrate on the interaction of the EU Affairs Committees and sectoral committees, engagement of the opposition parties in the EU affairs scrutiny and the role of administrative players (members of secretariats, parliamentary experts etc) within the national legislatures. The concepts of “exit” and “voice”, introduced by A.Hirschman, will be used to assess the governance practices within the EU affairs scrutiny process. The research tries to define mechanisms through which the national parliaments attempt to change the preferences of the government by negotiating and seeking compromise (“voice”) or how they influence respective governments through the EU level proper (“exit”). The issues of EU pension systems and seasonal workers’ entry/residence in the EU, selected through exploratory interviews and document research, are the empirical cases of EU affairs scrutiny that will be considered in my study. Generally, the proposed research allows to develop new answers to the main challenges of the EU political development: “efficiency-democracy dilemma” and the “interaction of national and EU levels”.
PhD candidate: Alexander Strelkov
The Changed Role of the European Court of Justice in the Area of Justice and Home Affairs: Reshaping the Europeanisation of Migration Policies?
The nature of the gradual Europeanisation of migration policies from the 1980s onwards has spurred a lot of academic debate. Whereas some commentators hold Member States’ primary intentions for the delegation of authority to the EU level to lie in their wish to achieve greater control over ever increasing migration flows – others have pointed at the important rights’ enhancing effects for migrants increasing cooperation at the EU level has led to. Against the background of this 'rights versus control' debate, this PhD project examines the significance of Member States’ delegation of increased jurisdiction in this area to the European Court of Justice with the Lisbon Treaty.
As the balance in favour of either rights or control within EU migration policies seems to be importantly influenced by the relative importance of intergovernmental versus supranational modes of governance – this new step towards increased supranational governance can be expected to have significant outcomes. Furthermore, as has been noted by a number of commentators, the European Court of Justice has taken on a rights-enhancing approach in many important cases concerning European migration law that were brought before it in previous years. The influence of Court activism of this nature can be expected to increase as the Lisbon Treaty expands the ECJ’s jurisdiction in this area.
By analysing a number of landmark cases this PhD project wishes to examine the influence of ECJ judicial politics on the Europeanization of migration policies, and the potentially important effects the Lisbon Treaty’s increase of the Court’s jurisdiction may bring about.
PhD candidate: M. Desomer
Supervisor: Prof. S. Vanhoonacker