The EU's Decision Traps: Comparing Policies

ISBN : 9780199596225

Gerda Falkner
276 Pages
165 x 242 mm
Pub date
May 2011
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Fritz W. Scharpf's renowned model of the 'joint-decision trap' suggestes that the requirements of (nearly) unanimous decisions in the EU's Council of Ministers, combined with conflicting preferences among member governments, will systematically limit the problem-solving effectiveness of European policies. However, certain conditions have significantly changed in the 25 years since the theory was first posited. In particular, the unanimity rule has been replaced by qualified-majority voting in most issue areas, and successive rounds of enlargement have augmented the diversity of member state interests and preferences. This volume examines the continued relevance of the model. It presents a comparative study on the differential politics in EU policies. Looking at the political dynamics in an array of EU activities, it analyses breakthroughs as well as stalemates and asks why leaps occur in some areas whilst blockages characterise others. The dynamics that allow the EU to escape various forms of decision trap are analysed in-depth, including those suggested by 'rationalist' theorists (supranational-hierarchical steering, treaty-base games, and arena shifting) and those suggested by 'constructivist' approaches (socialisation). The volume concludes that when the EU is confronted with a high degree of problem pressure in a given issue area, these mechanisms will often not be available because most remain outside politicians' immediate grasp.


Abbreviations List
1. Introduction: The EU's Decision Traps and their Exits: A Concept for Comparative Analysis
2. The Paradigmatic Case: Beyond Emergency Exits in the Common Agricultural Policy
3. Overcoming the Joint-Decision Trap in Single-Market Legislation: The Interplay between Judicial and Legislative Politics
4. One Trap, Many Exits, but no Free Lunch: How the Joint-Decision Trap Shapes EU Tax Policy
5. Financial Market Regulation: A 'Lamfalussy Exit' from the Joint-Decision Trap
6. Liberalising the EU's Energy Market: Hard and Soft Power Combined
7. Environmental Policy in the Joint-Decision Trap? The Critical Balance between 'Market Making' and 'Market Correcting'
8. Social Policy: Problem-Solving Gaps, Partial Exits and Court-Decision Traps
9. Increased Differentiation as an Engine for Integration? Studying Justice and Home Affairs
10. The EU's Foreign and Security Policy: Incremental Upgrading of Common Interests and the Effects of Institutionalised Cooperation
11. Organising Exits from the Joint-Decision Trap? Cross-Sectoral (Non-)Coordination in the European Union
12. Escaping Joint-Decision Traps: National and Supranational Experiences Compared
13. The JDT Model: Context and Extensions
14. In and Out of EU Decision Traps: Comparative Perspectives

About the author: 

Gerda Falkner Associate Professor for Political Science at the University of Vienna and Director of the Institute for European Integration Research of the Austrian Academy of Sciences (www.eif.oeaw.ac.at). Her research focuses on European integration.

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