SISP2023
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SISP Conference 2023

SISP2023 Sections and Panels

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Section 11 - European Union

Managers: Edoardo Bressanelli, Igor Guardiancich

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Scholars have described the period that began in the second half of 2008 – when the economic and financial crisis hit the EU – as the “poly-crisis” or “perma-crisis” of the Union. Starting with the Eurocrisis, moving on with the migration and refugee crisis, the long-process of withdrawal of the UK leading to Brexit, and finally the COVID-19 pandemic, the EU has been confronted with a dramatic string of unprecedented events. While the EU has managed to navigate through the storm, the crises have fuelled support for anti-EU and populist parties, contesting the EU and its policies sometimes from the highest executive office in some Member states.
The implementation of Next Generation EU to boost post-pandemic recovery and the strategic and policy responses to counter the Russian invasion of Ukraine are possibly the biggest challenges that the EU is currently confronted with. Besides, the EU is also dealing with both long-standing and newer issues, such as the respect of its fundamental values by member countries like Hungary or Poland; post-Brexit arrangements with the UK and specifically the issue of the border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland; the energy crisis following the sanctions on Russia with their cross-policy impact; the reform of economic governance which may eventually come to light.
The five-year cycle which started in 2019 – with, for the first time, the absence of an absolute majority between the centre-right (the group of the European People’s Party) and the centre-left (the Socialists and Democrats) in the European Parliament – is also nearing its conclusion, and the EU will soon renovate its Parliament – strongly shaken by the Qatar-gate and corruption scandals investing some members and staff – and ‘elect’ a new President of the Commission in the early summer of 2024. There is some uncertainty over the Spitzenkandidaten process, which was successfully introduced in 2014 but already abandoned in 2019, and the reform of the electoral law for the EP elections, introducing transnational constituencies.
Despite these serious, we could call them ‘quasi-existential’ setbacks, it has to be, however, stressed that the mistakes that had been made in the aftermath of the sovereign debt crisis – for example the rushed endorsement of the doctrine dubbed “expansive austerity” – and which have done so much harm by alienating voters and governments, thereby fundamentally shaking the foundations of the European project of shared prosperity, have not been fortunately repeated. Above and beyond the ‘Hamiltonian moment’ represented by the relatively solidaristic answer to the challenges of the pandemic or the recently approved gas price cap in response to Russian threats, a shift away from economic towards social Europe, that had started under the aegis of the Juncker Commission, has continued unabated under the Von der Leyen Presidency.
If a list of the market-correcting policies supplanting market-making ones is beyond the scope of this summary, as they range from ecological measures such as the European Green Deal to regulatory breakthroughs such as the Digital Markets Act, just a brief look at the social policy domain indicates that a number of initiatives have been pushed forward or are being debated that would have been inconceivable just five years earlier. Planned or definitive legislative acts, such as the Minimum Wage Directive, the Platform Work Directive, the setup of Individual Learning Accounts represent paradigmatic changes in the conception of what a European social model signifies and may influence its design and operation for decades to come. It is in the light of these contrasting developments that the ninth legislative period of the European Parliament needs to be assed.
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The main goal of this Section is that of analysing, interpreting and explaining, from a variety of angles and using different methodologies, the challenges impacting upon and the ensuing changes on the EU political system, both at the supranational level and in a multi-level governance perspective. The analytical focus is placed on the EU institutions, actors and public policies. In an illustrative fashion, the Section welcomes contributions exploring:
– the validity of theories of EU integration to explain the more recent changes in the EU political system;
– the assessment of the Europeanisation of the member states, in particular but not only Italy;
– intra-institutional dynamics, such as the reforms adopted by the European Parliament to tackle corruption and limit foreign interferences;
– inter-institutional dynamics and power-relationships between the European Council, the Council of the EU, the Commission and the EP;
– the run-up to the 2024 EP elections and the reform of the electoral law, the Spitzenkandidaten process and policies to protect the integrity of elections;
– the narratives about the EU in the media and in the public sphere;
– the current fractures between economic and social Europe and between market-making and market-correcting measures;
– the latest developments in the hottest policy fields, such as the labour market, social security and protection, energy capacity, environmental preservation, digitalization and its regulation etc.;
– the implementation and subsequent adaptation of the National Resilience and Recovery Plans;
– the tensions between the green transition and the need for energy security;
– the stepping up of security and defence coordination.
 

Panel 11.1 Migration governance in the European Union between old and new challenges (I)


The war in Ukraine and the latest increase in irregular mobility across the Mediterranean have caused a new increase in asylum seekers’ arrivals to the European Union. As epitomized by the aftermath of tragedies like the shipwreck off the cost of Crotone in March 2022, the latest restrictions on non-governmental organizations conducting sea rescue operations, the building of fences at land borders with Belarus and Russia, the resignation of Frontex directors’ Leggeri and Italy’s recent indictment by the European Court of Human Rights, migration remains a salient and heavily polarized political issue that exacerbates tensions both within and between EU member states.
This panel seeks to advance the debate on migration to Europe by welcoming contributions on issues including (but not limited to) the governance of EU external borders on land and at sea, the securitization of irregular mobility, European publics’ varying attitudes to asylum seekers from Ukraine and the Global South, the reform of the Dublin system, and other relevant themes.

Chairs: Eugenio Cusumano

Discussants: Eugenio Cusumano

The external dimension of the border control in the EU
Iole Fontana, Francesca Longo
Abstract
This paper is part of a larger research project on the international regime on humanitarian protection and asylum. It aims at analyzing the so-called ‘externalization of border control’ by the EU, which is institutionally implemented through the “external dimension” (ED) of migration and asylum policies, i.e. cooperation with third countries in the field of immigration and asylum. The process of externalization of border control is not new and already starting in the early 2000s the EU moved towards international cooperation as a way to compensate for the deficiencies of traditional domestic migration control and for the failure to develop a common policy. Yet, over the past few years, the scale and salience of t migratory flows to the EU territory have seen a growing number of non-EU countries being involved in the management of migration at the EU borders, with a higher number of formal and informal instruments being adopted. They have taken the form of arrangements, common agendas, compacts, deals, migration clauses, migration dialogues, statements, and partnerships. This complex entangling of formal, informal, bilateral, and multilateral patterns of cooperation, as well as the various legal, operative, and political frameworks across borders, countries, and regions, have generated a sort of variable geometries of agreements and settings. This paper aim at shading light on this plethora of policy tools. It systematizes and maps these policy tools in order to: a) understand the ‘geographical coverage’ of the ED b) assesses to what extent the number, type and distribution of ED policy tools have an impact on the governance of EU external borders c) evaluate the dynamics of the securitization of migration at the EU borders d) investigate to what extent the ED has an impact on the capability of the EU to comply with the international regime of asylum and humanitarian protection. This is particularly relevant not only because most of these extraterritorial actions are tailored to stem, prevent, and contain migratory flows. But, also, because they inevitably affect asylum-seekers’ mobility, their possibility to enter the EU territory, and the ensuing right to make asylum claims.
Beyond evidence-based policymaking? Exploring knowledge formation and source effects in migration policymaking
Andrea Pettrachin, Leila Hadj Abdou
Abstract
In the past few years several calls for more evidence-based policymaking have been made by experts and organizations working in the migration policy field, in both Europe and North America. Several scholarly works argued that migration policies tend not to be founded on an evidence-based, rational, understanding of international migration (Baldwin-Edwards et al. 2018; Scholten 2019). But what counts as ‘evidence’? What are the sources that policymakers use in their daily work, and which are the sources of information that have a higher potential to shape their policy-related decisions? Which actors are in a position to reach policymakers? To shed light on these questions, in this article we apply a network-centred organizational approach shedding light on the sources through which policymakers form their understanding of migration-related policy problems and make choices. Our analysis of data collected in 2016 through interviews with high-level representatives of the US federal and state governments, international organizations, and non-governmental actors, suggests that 1) US policymakers prioritize internal sources of information which are internal within their organization; 2) not only compositional specifics of policy networks and existing power relationships matter, but also policymakers’ processing of information is guided by dynamics of trust and perceptions of like-mindedness (in terms of both institutional mandates and ideology); 3) academia plays a minimal role in influencing policymaking, while think tanks emerge as crucially central actors within the US migration governance network. In our presentation we will compare findings of this paper with findings of the article “Exploring the EU’s status quo tendency in the migration policy field: a network-centred perspective”, recently published in the Journal of European Public Policy (Hadj Abdou and Pettrachin 2023), for which we adopted a similar approach to investigate migration-related policymaking processes in the European Union.
Narrative Power Dynamic(s) between Member States and the European Commission: the (Non-) Reform of EU Asylum Policy
Laura Mastroianni
Abstract
Throughout the last decades, EU asylum policy has undergone continuous enhancements of competences, as well as it has faced numerous crises, resulting in one of the most dynamic policy areas of EU integration. Even though some scholars have engaged in bridging the fields of EU studies and public policy, still a big gap exists. This paper aims at filling this gap from both a theoretical and empirical perspective. Accordingly, since the so-called European refugee crisis (2015), the European Commission has put forward two proposals for the amendment of the Common European Asylum System: the ‘European Agenda on Migration’ (2015) and the ‘New Pact on Migration and Asylum’ (2020). However, this policy area seems to be in complete deadlock. Through the lenses of the Narrative Policy Framework (NPF), this paper investigates Member States narrative strategies in influencing the European Commission proposals for policy reform. Firstly, a theoretical framework is developed, bringing together the NPF, conceptualisations of power, and multi-level governance. Secondly, the case is described, the research question is put forward, and the working hypotheses are constructed. Lastly, the analysis, results and future research steps are presented. This paper not only strives to build a theoretical bridge between the fields of EU studies and public policy in regard to the potential narrative power(s) of Member States on the European Commission, but it also empirically analyses these power dynamic(s) through the main assumptions of the NPF.
Making Pushbacks Public: Secrecy, Material Witnesses and Devices of Dis/appearance
Georgios Glouftsios
Abstract
In early 2021, the European Parliament established the Frontex Scrutiny Working Group (FSWG) to monitor all aspects of the functioning of the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex). The FSWG organised a series of public hearings and carried out a “fact-finding” investigation to gather information and evidence about pushbacks of refugees at the Aegean Sea. By unpacking some of the controversies that emerged during the hearings of the FSWG, I explore how secrecy was practised and strategically employed to obscure the responsibility of Frontex for the reported pushbacks, and how it was contested through the presentation of related evidence. I explain how secrecy and related controversies and struggles over making pushbacks public involve a variety of actors that enrol and interact with a heterogeneous set of objects including digital, visual and archival traces of violence at sea, as well as databases used to record information about maritime incidents. I argue that secrecy regarding pushbacks is not just about keeping information about people and objects involved in security operations hidden. Secrecy is also produced through the selective recording, (mis-)categorisation and circulation of information in the name of transparency.
“You are (at) the border”. The non-entry fiction as a bordering process in airport transit zones.
Anna Tagliabue
Abstract
This paper intends to investigate the non-entry fiction as a bordering process. It will focus on the study of airport transit zones, defined as the areas between the landing point of the aircraft coming from abroad and the customs control. It may also include a closed detention centre, as in the case of Roissy-Charles de Gaulle airport. Travellers who do not fulfil the conditions to enter the territory are blocked and detained in these places considered extra-territorial. Through legal fiction, states establish the distinction between physical and legal entry (Maillet et al., 2017) to simplify the procedure of non-admission and to enforce formal and informal selection of travellers. Although travellers have physically arrived, they are not considered to have legally entered the territory. Since states cannot physically expel people, the EU's border logic seeks to change the legal implications of their presence (Moreno‐Lax, 2018; Molinari, 2022). Drawing on six months of participant observation, the presentation will look at Roissy-Charles de Gaulle and Orly Airports as case studies to articulate two aspects. First, bordering practices in transit zones reveal mechanisms of differential inclusion (Mezzadra and Neilson, 2013). Borders are a system of classification of 'travelers', an instrument of differentiation and construction of migratory categories and profiles. There are the administrative and juridical categories of travelers and the more invisible dynamics of profiling at borders determining who is a tourist and who is a migrant. Border authorities refer to certain 'nationalities' as ‘at risk of migration' and in so doing produce specific conceptualizations of the so-called ‘would-be migrant’. Second, the fiction of non-entry questions the linearity of the border as a recipient of territory. This idea of extra-territoriality allows us to question and give complexity to the relations between borders, territory and state. At Roissy-Charles de Gaulle, travellers can stay up to a maximum of twenty days in the so-called “zone d’attente” (waiting zone) before being expelled, admitted to the territory, or transferred to a pre-removal detention centre. During these twenty days, they are submitted to a strict administrative procedure that includes several hearings. The purpose is to determine whether travellers meet the conditions for access to the territory or, in the case of asylum applications, whether their stories are 'credible' or not. At Orly airport, people are forced to stay inside an airport lounge but, during the night, they are transferred to the top floors of the Hotel Ibis within the international zone. The Sarkozy law of 26 November 2003 broadened the definition of transit zone, extending it to places where non-admitted people must go during the procedure, such as courts and hospitals. In this sense, the border is not pre-existing or immutable, but it seems to follow and, to some extent, be defined by those who are non-admitted.
 

Panel 11.1 Migration governance in the European Union between old and new challenges (II)


The war in Ukraine and the latest increase in irregular mobility across the Mediterranean have caused a new increase in asylum seekers’ arrivals to the European Union. As epitomized by the aftermath of tragedies like the shipwreck off the cost of Crotone in March 2022, the latest restrictions on non-governmental organizations conducting sea rescue operations, the building of fences at land borders with Belarus and Russia, the resignation of Frontex directors’ Leggeri and Italy’s recent indictment by the European Court of Human Rights, migration remains a salient and heavily polarized political issue that exacerbates tensions both within and between EU member states.
This panel seeks to advance the debate on migration to Europe by welcoming contributions on issues including (but not limited to) the governance of EU external borders on land and at sea, the securitization of irregular mobility, European publics’ varying attitudes to asylum seekers from Ukraine and the Global South, the reform of the Dublin system, and other relevant themes.

Chairs: Eugenio Cusumano

Discussants: Marcello Carammia

Politicisation and depoliticisation of the EU migration policy: a fragile balance for the human rights of migrants.
Marguerite Arnoux Bellavitis
Abstract
Migration and asylum are a political priority both at the European and at the national level. The politics of asylum and migration are deeply securitised. The fight against irregular migration is the number one priority, but the underlying objective of all policies in this field is actually to prevent migration to the EU. This objective is primarily implemented via an externalisation of migration policies, which is defined by the outsourcing of the management of migration flows to countries outside of the external borders, or externalisation of the EU borders and by a focalization on returns of irregular migrants. This securitisation of the EU migration and asylum policy, often disguised with humanitarian discourses is the main threat to the fundamental rights of migrants, as the securitisation in practice involves practices such as detention, violation of the principle of non-refoulement with push and pull-backs and forced returns and the violation of the right to life with the containment policies. Despite the general agreement of Member States on this approach, the Council is deeply divided when it comes to the adoption of new legislation. According to Ripoll Servent and Zaun ('Perpetuating Crisis as a Supply Strategy: The Role of (Nativist) Populist Governments in EU Policymaking on Refugee Distribution', 2022), this deadlock can be tracked down to the use of ‘unpolitics’by populist governments which aim at rejecting institutional norms and procedures to keep the issue in a state of permanent political crisis and instrumentalising it to gain popular support at the national level. Despite the legislative deadlock in the EU asylum and migration field, this policy area is extremely prolific when it comes to non-legislative acts, or alternative policy frames, such as international agreement, the development of agencies, or the increasing use of EU funds to govern the area. Those alternative policy frames are frequently adopted by the Commission and the Council, with little involvement from the European Parliament, in a depoliticisation strategy. Building up on the research I am currently conducting for my PhD, this paper aims at exploring the impact of the politicisation/depoliticisation dynamic during the decision-making process on the human rights dimension of the EU return policy. Through a comparative analysis of the decision-making process of different EU acts including return policy elements, (the Recast Return Directive Proposal, the Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument – Global Europe, and the Status Agreements for the deployment of Frontex in third countries), the research will focus on the role of the Commission in the policy-making, based on the theoretical lens of actor-centred constructivism.
Towards a new role for civil society actors and cities in EU migration governance? Networking, Europeanisation from below and the influence of national contexts
Federico Alagna
Abstract
Recent evidence from across the EU shows that civil society actors (CSAs) have increasingly found in the local dimension one of the key terrains to engage in EU migration governance and develop a contentious politics of migration. This process of increasing cooperation between civil society actors and city governments has spread transnationally, leading to the emergence of multi-scalar alliances, advocating for a radical change in EU migration policy. The new, somehow unexpected role of these two actors – civil society and city governments – in EU migration governance has attracted increasing scholarly attention (Alagna, forthcoming; Ataç et al., 2023; Caponio, 2022; Lacroix & Spencer, 2022; Lacroix et al., 2022; Panebianco, 2022). Moving from this understanding and building upon previous research on the topic, this contribution aims to expand our knowledge on this phenomenon and its patterns, adopting the analytical perspective of the ‘Europeanisation from below’ (della Porta & Caiani, 2009). To do so, it firstly explores the characteristics of the new role that CSAs and cities attempt to play in EU migration governance, considering in particular the factors that made the emergence of this new role possible as such. Secondly, it specifically delves into the impact that national contexts have on the willingness and capacity of CSAs and cities to engage in EU migration governance in new ways, considering in particular relevant aspects related to political culture, political systems and the geopolitics of migration. In doing so, this piece of research tackles two crucial analytical issues: (a) how and why CSAs and cities decided to engage more directly in EU migration governance and to do so transnationally; (b) how and why the existence of diverse national contexts significantly contributed not only to the polarisation and exacerbation of tensions among policy-makers and the general public across the EU, but also to the emergence of important differences within the transnational political mobilisation of civil society initiatives and cities in the field of migration. My work is based on the comparative analysis of the process of transnationalisation of CSAs’ and cities’ contentious politics of migration in Italy, Germany and Spain, from 2015 to 2022. The EU-wide network From the Sea to the City/International Alliance of Safe Harbours, which gathers numerous civil society initiatives and municipalities, is given special consideration. The analysis is based on extensive empirical research, which includes participant observation, twenty semi-structured interviews with activists and practitioners as well as document analysis. By engaging with different traditions and strands of both EU migration governance studies and contentious politics studies, my contribution firstly casts light on the emergence of a new contentious politics of migration of civil society actors and city governments. Secondly, it also explains how and why this new role of CSAs and cities in EU migration governance is decisively influenced by differences in the national contexts, including (but not limited to) migration salience and politicisation, geographical location of the country and its functional characteristics along migration routes.
Complementarity and trade-offs in the European migration policy mix
Federica Zardo
Abstract
Some recent crises, like the Covid pandemic, have shown that migration policies aiming to address and affect human migration and mobility are inherently and mutually intertwined (Anonymous 2021). Broader migration governance systems are composed of a range of policies that either directly, i.e., by design, aim to affect the migration behaviour of a target group (e.g., traditional migration policies regulating entry, stay, integration, and return or exit of migrants) or shape migration outcomes rather indirectly, and sometimes even accidentally. While acknowledging the complex nature of migration governance systems, scholars have rarely tried to analyze whether and how multiple direct and indirect migration policies are mutually interlinked in their design and impact. The notion of policy mix captures part of this underlying complexity. It is instrumental in describing trends and in assessing the effectiveness of different policy areas to address specific policy goals (Flanagan et al., 2011; Schultz et al., 2021). Its application in the migration realm, however, has been limited so far to study the co-evolution of policy pairs such as asylum and labour policies (Schultz et al. 2021) or migration and aid (Lanati and Thiele, 2018). In line with the literature on policy tools, this paper conceives migration policy mixes or packages not just as unstructured (i.e., ‘random’) sets of multiple policies that address different policy areas, but as a complex portfolio of policies (Howlett and del Rio 2022) with an integral functional relationship. Functionality is conceptualized along the internal versus external dimension on one hand, and the direct version indirect dimension on the other. The former focuses on the ‘locus operandi’ (Helbling et al. 2017) of policy implementation (within or beyond the EU borders) while the latter allows for a differentiation between migration policies “whose primary objectives target the migratory behaviour of a target population” (Czaika et al. 2021), and migration-relevant policies, which are capable of shaping migration patterns and processes, although their primary objectives do not directly target migration or migrants per se. In this study we basically explore whether and how migration and migration-relevant policies are categorically and spatially interlinked. We aim to advance migration policy research by conducting the first explorative large-scale analysis of the joint design of migration policies in Europe. We update and combine several policy datasets on internal and external migration policies, as well as on migration-relevant policies, to identify the interlinkages in and across 31 European states between 1990 and 2020. Our ambition is hereby twofold. First, we seek to describe European migration policy trends in the last 30 years which is, per se, an empirical advancement. Second, we aim to enhance our understanding of the functional interlinkages between internal and external, but also direct and indirect migration policies. Our analysis ascertains both categorical and spatial interlinkages in the design and evolution of migration policies. By categorical interlinkages, we mean connections between policies operating within the internal and external dimensions of migration policies. Similarly, spatial interlinkages describe interconnections between one or more policies in both realms across (spatially) proximate countries. We demonstrate that European migration policies are functionally interconnected, although to varying degrees, and that some striking patterns exist both within national migration policy mixes and between European countries. Categorically “proximate” policy areas – such as border enforcement policies and policies regulating the admission of migrants – tend to develop in the same direction in terms of their restrictiveness or openness towards migrants. Conversely, trajectories of change in and across categorically ‘distant’ policy areas, such as border enforcement and integration policies, describe some rather fragmented patterns. While a fine-grained explanation of the drivers of policy change within and across policy mixes is beyond the scope of this paper, these trends (or lack thereof) suggest the extent to which policy design processes, and presumably also policymakers themselves, are connected to or isolated from each other.
Stories of migration governance: EUropean border and asylum policy in Italian, Maltese, and Spanish newspapers
Andrea Terlizzi, Martina Abisso, Eugenio Cusumano
Abstract
While scholars have extensively investigated how media frame human mobility and securitize irregular border crossings, little research has been dedicated to how EUrope is portrayed in media coverage of migration across the Mediterranean. By providing a systematic content analysis of Italian, Maltese and Spanish newspapers covering over eight million words and the eight years timespan between 2013 and 2020, our article fills this gap. Specifically, we identify the key frames and narratives underlying the portrayal of specific EUropean actors. We show that, overall, lack of EU solidarity is the prevalent frame in Italian, Maltese, and Spanish newspapers alike, followed by the alleged inefficiency of EUropean actors. Accordingly, the EU and its key actors and figures are regularly narrated as either villains, responsible for the crisis and deserting member states in need of solidarity, or as helpless unable to take effective action. These narratives appear remarkably consistent across countries, over time, and newspapers with different ideological orientation.
 

Panel 11.2 Differentiation in EU Foreign Policy (I)


This panel addresses the occurrence of differentiation in EU foreign policy. It aims to assess the evolution of differentiation in this area by focusing both on formal and informal practices. In recent years, the scholarly literature on differentiation has been flourishing. Such a heightened interest comes as no surprise. While multiple crises had put into question EU existing paradigms, BREXIT turned the spotlight on the issue of differentiation. Among other sectors, foreign and security policy constitutes a relevant case to address the occurrence of differentiation in the EU. Differentiation has been characterizing EU foreign policy ever since the beginning of the European integration process. Additionally, informal institutional practices have become increasingly differentiated in this policy domain. The frequent emergence of informal groupings steering EU response to conflicts and crises provide a relevant example of the recurrence of informal differentiation in the EU. True, the Russia-Ukraine war led to instances of formal de-differentiation, with the end of the Denmark opt-out from the common security and defence policy. Still, EU foreign policy continued to be differentiated, with an informal grouping of member states steering EU initial diplomatic response to the war and member states’ differentiated increases in spending and bilateral provision of military aid to Ukraine. In essence, despite the centralization of member states’ foreign policy that the Lisbon Treaty’s institutional modifications should have determined, differentiation seems to remain a qualifying feature in EU foreign policy. And yet, our understanding of differentiated practices in this policy domain is still at an early stage. Against this backdrop, the panel aims to assess the causes, determinants and modes of differentiation in EU foreign policy, as well as its implications for the conduct of EU foreign policy and the nature and evolution of the EU as a polity. It welcomes theoretical and empirical contributions on the development of differentiated patterns in this policy domain, with special consideration to the Russia-Ukraine war.

Chairs: Maria Giulia Amadio Viceré

Discussants: Marianna Lovato

When differentiation leads to coordination: the case of the EU Indo-Pacific Strategy
Giulia Tercovich
Abstract
The paper aims to assess the conditions and performance of ‘lead groups’ (Alcaro 2018; Aggestam & Bicchi 2019) in adopting the first EU Indo-Pacific Strategy. After the adoption of Indo-Pacific strategies in France, Germany and the Netherlands, the European Union also adopted in September 2021 its EU Strategy for Cooperation in the Indo-Pacific. The Indo-pacific is a region that has become increasingly important for Europe’s prosperity and security. The Indo-Pacific is the second-largest destination of EU exports. It is also the epicentre of Sino-American competition, and thus central to the future of the multilateral order. Finally, the region is home to some of the EU’s most dynamic economic and strategic partners, including Japan, Australia, Korea and ASEAN. Beyond a general consensus on the need for the EU to adopt a coherent position towards this region, EU member states’ approaches differ in terms of partners and areas to prioritise; on the type and modalities of the engagement with China and on how to position the EU in a context of competition between the US and China. Against this backdrop, the paper will unpack the process, the role and performance of these informal groups of member states that, supported by EU institutions, are able to overcome the different national positions and produce effective foreign policy actions. By doing so, the paper will contribute to the growing debate on differentiation in the EU’s foreign and security policy.
EU mediation between Armenia and Azerbaijan: new player facing new realities
Yalchin Mammadov
Abstract
44-days war between Armenia and Azerbaijan ended with Russian brokered deal on 10 November 2020. In the aftermath of this deal, the conflicting sides got engaged in a peace process through exclusively Russian mediation, as the role of the Minsk Group of the OSCE, an international body that had been a platform for joint Russia-West mediation of the conflict for almost 30 years, had significantly declined. With Russia being too busy with Ukraine, the EU has emerged as a new mediator. The leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan have met several times in Brussels and Prague with the mediation of the European Union, with direct implication of the EU Council President Charles Michel. The declarations of Armenian and Azerbaijani leaders following that meetings sounded promising for a sustainable peace. However, this dynamics has not been translated into action and while the EU has seemingly lost momentum, a USA led mediation came to the foreground (particularly with Secretary Blinken's direct involvement). The paper will discuss the capacity of the EU to remain a sustainable peace broker between Armenia and Azerbaijan, in the context of conflicting parties' "forum shopping". Would it be a complement or an alternative to a process dominated by Russia and where the US is increasingly active? What are the advantages and downsides of Brussels for being a better player in the process? The hypothesis is that both Armenia and Azerbaijan are pleased to have the EU as a counterweight against Russia, however use this opportunity with care as it can deprive them from Russian support.
Informal Power and Differentiated Cooperation: An Historical Network Analysis of Informal Groupings in EU Foreign Policy
Maria Giulia Amadio Viceré
Abstract
Over the past decade, the European Union (EU) foreign policy practices have often gone beyond the boundaries of EU treaties. Even though the Lisbon Treaty (2009) aimed to further centralize member states’ foreign policies at the EU level, informal groupings of EU member states have frequently steered EU policies across a spectrum of EU external relations areas, without receiving a formal mandate from EU institutions and/or other member states. Informal groupings are not a recent development in EU foreign policy; they have existed at least since the founding of the European Political Cooperation in the 1970s. Still, the persistence of these informal dynamics of differentiated cooperation among EU member states points towards a tension between the supply of security, as a collective good, and the demand of self-rule in the EU polity. The article develops a theoretical argument that explains the extent to which informal groupings post-Lisbon are unique or distinctive when compared with previous phases of EC/EU integration in foreign policy. It identifies power asymmetries among member states in the EU as the main explanatory factor for the observed historical evolution of informal groupings in EU foreign policy. The article’s theoretical argument is tested through a congruence study in a comparative research design. It employs social network analysis to examine EU approach to Kosovo, Libya and Syria in three different phases of EC/EU foreign policy integration.
 

Panel 11.2 Differentiation in EU Foreign Policy (II)


This panel addresses the occurrence of differentiation in EU foreign policy. It aims to assess the evolution of differentiation in this area by focusing both on formal and informal practices. In recent years, the scholarly literature on differentiation has been flourishing. Such a heightened interest comes as no surprise. While multiple crises had put into question EU existing paradigms, BREXIT turned the spotlight on the issue of differentiation. Among other sectors, foreign and security policy constitutes a relevant case to address the occurrence of differentiation in the EU. Differentiation has been characterizing EU foreign policy ever since the beginning of the European integration process. Additionally, informal institutional practices have become increasingly differentiated in this policy domain. The frequent emergence of informal groupings steering EU response to conflicts and crises provide a relevant example of the recurrence of informal differentiation in the EU. True, the Russia-Ukraine war led to instances of formal de-differentiation, with the end of the Denmark opt-out from the common security and defence policy. Still, EU foreign policy continued to be differentiated, with an informal grouping of member states steering EU initial diplomatic response to the war and member states’ differentiated increases in spending and bilateral provision of military aid to Ukraine. In essence, despite the centralization of member states’ foreign policy that the Lisbon Treaty’s institutional modifications should have determined, differentiation seems to remain a qualifying feature in EU foreign policy. And yet, our understanding of differentiated practices in this policy domain is still at an early stage. Against this backdrop, the panel aims to assess the causes, determinants and modes of differentiation in EU foreign policy, as well as its implications for the conduct of EU foreign policy and the nature and evolution of the EU as a polity. It welcomes theoretical and empirical contributions on the development of differentiated patterns in this policy domain, with special consideration to the Russia-Ukraine war.

Chairs: Maria Giulia Amadio Viceré

Discussants: Giulia Tercovich

Differentiation or resemblance? A glimpse at EU Member States' approaches to resilience in recent strategic documents.
Gabriele Casano, Jean-Marie Reure
Abstract
Bearing in mind European Union (EU) advancements in security and defence policies, this article explores the reasons behind the recurrent use of the term resilience in recent strategic documents in Europe. More precisely it looks at how several EU Member states (MSs), according to their geographical position, understand the term in their national strategic documents. Since national strategic documents define threats and areas of concern, setting states’ priorities and course of action for the future, they appear particularly well suited for scrutinizing how MSs interpret resilience. Accordingly we conduct a qualitative, comparative textual analysis of the use of the term resilience based on to three guiding questions identified in the literature: resilience to what? resilience of what?; resilience by which means and with what outcomes?. Indeed, the interpretation of the term by each MS may vary considerably. In order to select relevant cases that we expect to present a certain degree of variance, this article focuses on France and Italy for south-western Europe, and on Germany and Sweden for the region’s north-east. France, Italy and Germany are both EU’s funding members and active participants to many CSDP and PESCO missions and programs. Among EU’s Nordic countries, Sweden has engaged more extensively with both frameworks, showing a fairly active foreign policy. Looking at these four MSs’ white papers and related strategic documents, we provisionally argue that the inherent vagueness and ambiguousness of resilience makes the term fit for describing policy responses to perceived multi-layered and multifaceted threats. We posit that two main reasons determine the frequent use of the term resilience: (1) its relative novelty and catchiness, and (2) its capacity to shift the focus from ‘reflection on the context’ to ‘action in a context’. This however results in strikingly different conceptualizations of resilience amongst MSs. We, therefore, call for a common conceptualization of the term in this field at the EU as well as the national level. This research, presented for the 2023 SISP conference, is currently a work in progress as it only shows the results obtained analyzing French and Italian strategic documents. As a consequence, our findings need to be considered as partial, since they might change once the cases of Germany and Sweden are included. In fact, we expect that the analysis of these two other cases might reveal different threats perceptions largely determined by the two countries’ geographical position, but a similarly vague and multifaceted understanding of resilience. KEYWORDS: resilience, strategic documents, security, European Union, Member States.
The Governance of Strategic Technologies: Between Geopolitical Competition and Multilateral Cooperation
Flavia Lucenti, Thomas Christiansen
Abstract
In an era of increasing geopolitical competition, leadership in global technology governance has acquired greater relevance. In this context, leading powers approach the challenge in various ways: the EU’s traditional approach to multilateral coordination and engagement contrasts with the moves towards de-coupling that both the US and China appear to follow. This makes it difficult, but increasingly urgent, to pursue the development of a regulatory framework for the responsible use of new technologies not only for the military but also for civil aspects, ranging from surveillance to information manipulation. Hence, although China is playing an increasing role in setting standards on technological norms, it has shown no interest in detailing their societal and political (ab)use. At the same time, the US is driven more by the rivalry with Beijing rather than a genuine search for global governance solutions that can make high-tech compatible with respect for liberal-democratic values. The scope of the article is therefore to examine emerging policies as well as attitudes, perceptions and discourses of the main powers concerned – the EU, China and the US. This comparative study will facilitate the identification of differences and similarities – and hence opportunities or obstacles for multilateral cooperation – in their respective efforts to regulate strategic technologies.
Informal groupings: the secret weapon of EU foreign policy cooperation?
Marianna Lovato
Abstract
Scholars of EU foreign policy have increasingly been focusing on the role that so-called ad hoc or lead groupings of member states play in the crafting and implementation of the EU’s Common Foreign and Security/Common Security and Defense Policy (CFSP/CSDP). Building on this growing body of literature, the paper focuses on extra- and intra-EU informal groupings in CFSP/CSDP and contends that they provide a key venue for coordination, as well as trust- and consensus-building. As a result, these informal groupings are critical tools for EU foreign policy cohesion and responsiveness, which, in turn, are necessary (but not sufficient) conditions for EU foreign policy effectiveness. The proposed argument is explored across two distinct instances of informal groupings, one extra- and one intra-EU grouping, by means of elite interviews with national diplomats and EU officials. First, the paper examines the role of the informal contact group on sanctions (pre- and post-Russia war of aggression) on the formulation of the Russian sanctions. Second, the paper assesses the role of the PESCO 4 in driving the establishment and implementation of PESCO. In both instances, the two informal grouping provided important venues for consensus-building and coordination, which proved essential for the overall coherence and responsiveness of the EU as a foreign policy actor. The paper thus contributes a more fine-grained understanding of the (informal) modes of differentiation in EU foreign policy, while also speaking to the broader scholarship on informality in International Organizations.
 

Panel 11.3 Reassessing inter-institutional relations in the EU ahead of the 2024 European Parliament elections (I)


This panel welcomes contributions focusing on any aspect where inter-institutional relationships in the EU play a key role: legislative relationships, the budgetary process, agenda-setting dynamics, office appointments and oversight dynamics. It is particularly interested in empirical papers which map the evolving relationship between the Commission and the co-legislators, the oversight role of the European Parliament towards EU agencies and the Commission, the power of agenda-setting of the European Council and the Commission, the process of appointment of the President of the European Commission and the Commission more broadly, the differentiated institutional impact of the crises which have hit the EU in the last decade or so. The panel mainly focuses on institutions at the level of the EU, but it is open towards papers seeking to explain and pin down how the domestic politicisation of the Union in the Member States influences inter-institutional dynamics in Brussels. Theoretical papers aiming to understand whether changing patterns in inter-interinstitutional relations can still be effectively captured by ‘old’ theories of integration – such as intergovernmentalism, federalism or neo-functionalism – or by ‘newer’ approaches or conceptual frameworks are also welcomed. The panel does not endorse any particular theoretical or methodological approach: quantitative analyses, small-n comparisons and case studies are all accepted, insofar as they present theoretically-driven – rather than descriptive – contributions.

Chairs: Edoardo Bressanelli, Thomas Christiansen

Discussants: Nicola Chelotti

Delegated Rulemaking in Times of Crisis: New Challenges for Democratic Scrutiny?
Giulia Gallinella
Abstract
The delegation of powers and centralised adoption of implementing measures has long been an essential part of decision-making in the European Union. However, this long-standing practice of delegating legislative and implementing powers to the European Commission has dramatically increased over the last few years, in the context of managing the various crises the EU has had to confront. The crisis context has demonstrated that executive institutions often become the indisputable leaders of emergency decision-making, and the use of delegated powers in such circumstances raises questions about the capacity of legislative institutions to carry out their control and scrutiny functions. Established mechanisms may need to be carried out more promptly, at the risk of legislative institutions being sidelined. This paper examines empirically if and how the scrutiny of the Commission’s adoption of delegated powers has changed during times of emergency. In particular, it provides an analysis of the use of delegated powers by the European Commission in the context of managing the Eurozone crisis, dealing with the global pandemic and responding to the Russian aggression against Ukraine the usual control mechanisms established by Council and. European Parliament worked effectively. By way of conclusion, the paper discusses the implications of the findings for the wider question of emergency governance in the European Union.
From knowledge to (supranational) influence: puzzling and powering in EU climate and energy policies
Giuseppe Cannata
Abstract
In the last decade, scholarship on the European Union (EU) has been postulating a 'decline' of the European Commission, which – once an ‘engine’ of integration – is no longer capable of steering EU policy-making. Yet, existing accounts of the Commission's influence, in large part based on European integration theories, struggle to grasp power and influence dynamics in contexts of radical uncertainty. When it comes to governance challenges concerning mass migration, climate change, or energy security, there is little agreement on the goals of EU policies as much as on the means through which these goals can be achieved: both goals and means need to be defined and devised through a process of ongoing sense-making and negotiation of meanings – that is, learning. Building on this latter idea, the paper makes a case for rethinking supranational influence as a problem of ‘who controls what is learnt’ in the EU and, hence, what kind of knowledge and ideas de facto inform EU policies. It conceptualises the Commission as a sui generis knowledge broker that mediates between organised interests, research institutions, and other producers of policy knowledge – i.e., the ’world of policy solutions’ – and, on the other side, formal decision-makers. However, in contrast to conventional knowledge brokers, the Commission is not just a mediator between producers and users of knowledge, but it is a producer and user itself: the functions of production (e.g., through research, administrative practice, evaluations, or impact assessments) and utilisation of policy knowledge are seldom disconnected. Focusing on the critical case of EU climate and energy policies, the paper attempts to develop a causal explanation linking knowledge to influence. It assumes control over knowledge and policy learning processes as a critical factor to make sense of inter-institutional dynamics in EU policy-making. In doing so, it speaks both to EU integration theories and to the literature on the role of knowledge in policy-making, intending to complement existing explanations of supranational influence in the EU.
The shadow of the European Council: The EU’s legislative process under pressure
Christine Reh, Edoardo Bressanelli
Abstract
Whilst the European Council is not supposed to exercise legislative functions, anecdotal evidence and case studies have shown that the heads of state and government do seek to influence the legislative negotiations by using their summit conclusions to pressure the European Commission and the co-legislators – the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union. Focusing on the ordinary legislative procedure, we theorise and systematically assess the impact of the European Council on the pace of the Union’s legislative process. Analysing a new dataset with information on EU legislation in the period from 1999 to 2021 and on the legislative priorities of the European Council as stated in its summits’ conclusions, we show that the heads are – under specific conditions – affecting the pace of the ‘ordinary’ law-making process. We further complement the statistical analysis with non-attributable interviews with senior EU law-makers and civil servants to better understand the mechanisms at play. The paper provides new insights into the topical and highly debated issue of executive leadership in the EU; we show that the European Council is effectively an actor in EU law making, both as an agenda-setter and by pushing salient procedures through the legislative process.
 

Panel 11.3 Reassessing inter-institutional relations in the EU ahead of the 2024 European Parliament elections (II)


This panel welcomes contributions focusing on any aspect where inter-institutional relationships in the EU play a key role: legislative relationships, the budgetary process, agenda-setting dynamics, office appointments and oversight dynamics. It is particularly interested in empirical papers which map the evolving relationship between the Commission and the co-legislators, the oversight role of the European Parliament towards EU agencies and the Commission, the power of agenda-setting of the European Council and the Commission, the process of appointment of the President of the European Commission and the Commission more broadly, the differentiated institutional impact of the crises which have hit the EU in the last decade or so. The panel mainly focuses on institutions at the level of the EU, but it is open towards papers seeking to explain and pin down how the domestic politicisation of the Union in the Member States influences inter-institutional dynamics in Brussels. Theoretical papers aiming to understand whether changing patterns in inter-interinstitutional relations can still be effectively captured by ‘old’ theories of integration – such as intergovernmentalism, federalism or neo-functionalism – or by ‘newer’ approaches or conceptual frameworks are also welcomed. The panel does not endorse any particular theoretical or methodological approach: quantitative analyses, small-n comparisons and case studies are all accepted, insofar as they present theoretically-driven – rather than descriptive – contributions.

Chairs: Edoardo Bressanelli, Thomas Christiansen

Discussants: Simona Piattoni

How to instrumentalise an international treaty: inter-institutional relations in the European Union and the conclusion of the Samoa Agreement
Maurizio Carbone
Abstract
In April 2021, after an intense preparatory process and, for some aspects, tense negotiations, the European Union (EU) and the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) States initialled a new cooperation framework to succeed to the Cotonou Agreement (2000-2020) and the Lomé Convention (1975-2000). The threat of the European Parliament not to give its consent owning to its allegedly weakened role in the EU-OACPS partnership had successfully been dealt with after the official end of the negotiations in December 2020, and therefore the expectation was that the new treaty would be signed in Samoa before the end of 2021. However, a series of additional obstacles, not linked to the substance of the outcome successfully negotiated by the European Commission (EC), has blocked the signature of the (forthcoming) Samoa Agreement for more than two years, undermining the credibility of the EU as a global actor and as a trustworthy partner of developing countries: the first impasse revolved around the nature of the agreement, between ‘EU-only’ (recommended by the EC) or ‘mixed’ (supported by the Council), which concealed a more general issue linked to delegation of sovereignty and power relations between EU institutions and Member States; the second deadlock was caused by the reservations placed by two Member States as a sort of retaliation against EC action/inaction linked to, respectively, respect of the rule of law by Hungary and the unintended consequences of the war in Ukraine in Poland, both unrelated to EU-OACPS relations. This paper, accordingly, seeks to shed lights on (variation of) inter-institutional relations in the EU with regards to the conclusion, and instrumentalization, of an international treaty across three distinct phases: 1) preparation of the EU negotiation directives; 2) negotiations with the OACPS; 3) process leading to the signature of the Samoa Agreement. A distinctive feature of this paper is that it opens the ‘black box’ of negotiations, as the author benefited from exceptional access to primary sources (including unpublished documents, briefings and treaty drafts) and direct participation in the preparation and negotiation of the Samoa Agreement, corroborated by a series of interviews (more than 80) with almost all policy-makers (directly and indirectly) involved in the treaty making process.
Multi-level politics in action: How national elections make European policies more responsive
Michele Scotto Di Vettimo
Abstract
This paper analyses the linkage between policy-specific preferences for European integration and European Union (EU) policies between 1994 and 2019. It has been shown that the EU institutional arrangement allows for national-level factors to influence the linkage between public opinion and EU-level policies. I argue that EU policy-making is skewed towards public preferences of those states where national elections are closer in the future. To support this claim, I use a Bayesian item response theory approach to construct policy area-specific series of public preferences for EU integration starting from 201 Eurobarometer questions. Then, I collect the summaries of all EU legislative acts tabled between 1994 and 2019, and use a semi-supervised topic model to capture the extent to which they expand EU authority. The results indicate that EU authority expansion is more associated with average public support for policy integration in a specific area when national-level public preferences are weighted by the proximity to national elections. This paper contributes to the existing literature on the opinion-policy linkage in the EU under territorial representation by showing the key role that national elections play in EU-level policy-making.
Regionalist parties in European elections: Unpacking multi-level electoral dynamics
Emanuele Massetti, Arjan H. Schakel
Abstract
The political system of the European Union is based on institutionalised interactions between several levels of government, three of which – regional, national and European – normally possess (and share) legislative powers (Hooghe et al., 2016; Piattoni, 2016). In recent years, the literature has started to devote more attention to political behaviour within and, more importnantly, across these levels of government (Baraun et al., 2020). An important component of this stream of research is represented by the emerging scholarship on multi-level elections in the EU political system. Initially, this scholarship was in fact limited to the study of the interactions between national and European elections (Hix and Marsh, 2007; 2011). However, more recently, the regional level has been added to the picture, thus providing a real multi-level analysi (Schakel, 2018; 2021). The paper develops from the observation that the perspective of regionalist parties is particularly interesting for shading light on the complex dynamics that characterise the EU multi-level electoral democracy. Indeed, for these parties, the regional level is not only a necessary one but it can be assumed as their first point of reference (Hough and Jeffery, 2006; Linera, 2011; Bechtel, 2012; Henderson and McEwen, 2015), creating an alternative ranking of importance vis-a-vis the classic 2nd order elections theory (Reif and Schmitt, 1980): i.e. regional elections (1st order), national elections (2nd order), European elections (3rd order). The study is based on the electoral scores of 177 regionalist parties - present in 68 regions of 10 EU member-states - obtained in the regional, national and European elections held in the period 1979-2019. The paper highlights longitudinal changes in the relative cross-level performances of all regionalist parties in the whole period, also reflecting the spaced-out creation of regional elections in different member-states - e.g. in the 1980s (France and Spain) or in the 1990s (Belgium and the UK). The study focuses on the effect of some key interactions, such as spring-board effects across levels, and variables, such as the effective electoral threshold (EET) at various levels. In this respect, it is interesting to investigate how huge differences between EET across levels might push regionalist parties to run alone or to create regionalist coalitions at national and multi-regional level. Finally, the analysis provides a test for a revised version of the 2nd order election theory, taking the regional level as the reference point (e.g. being in regional office or opposition, electoral cycle centred on regional elections etc.) vis-a-vis the national and European one.
The European multilevel administration “from “below”: patterns of interaction between EU agencies and subnational authorities
Giorgio Oikonomou
Abstract
How do subnational authorities participate in the European Multilevel Administration and for what reason? Do their activities lead to any results? Aiming at exploring new patterns of subnational mobilization in the European Union (EU), the paper proposal searches for direct interlinkages between subnational authorities (SNAs) and EU agencies, examining whether the former have expanded their functional leverage by directly engaging with the latter. Drawing on the conceptual framework proposed by Benz (2015) regarding the European Multilevel Administration (MLA), and by utilizing EU agencies’ responses on questionnaires, it is shown that the cooperative mode of governance is prevalent, aiming at facilitating policy diffusion between supra- and subnational structures, thus verifying the intergovernmental European administration dimension. By adding the bottom-up perspective the paper proposal seeks to theoretically contribute to the MLA approach, while from an empirical viewpoint it is argued that the institutionally strong (but surprisingly not solely) SNAs have successfully expanded their mobilisation channels in the EU mainly for collaborative activities, whereas their lobbying practices are hardly evident.
 

Panel 11.4 To protect or not to protect? When the EU’s dilemmas put international protection at risk


The proposed panel presents some results of research conducted within the H2020 PROTECT EU funded project. The panel addresses specific questions related to international protection: Does the EU comply with the existing actual international protection global regime? Is the existing international protection system adequate to respond to current causes of forced migration? Are people on the move across EU borders aware of their potential rights? The contradictions of the existing international protection regime must be addressed to disentangle distinct interests of the actors involved in guaranteeing protection to refugees and potential asylum-seekers; to explore European public opinion preferences concerning asylum; to identify ineffective legal provisions or discuss diverging stances at EUMS level. The assumption that this panel is going to address is that when the EU invests on cooperation with third countries and externalizes its borders’ control or adopts restrictive asylum policy tools, international protection is put at risk. These are some of the issues to be tackled by the potential papers to be presented at SISP Conference.

Chairs: Francesca Longo, Stefania Panebianco

Discussants: Andrew Geddes

Alternative Barriers to International Protection? The Impact of the External Dimension of EU Migration Governance on Asylum-Seeking at EU Borders
Marcello Carammia, Iole Fontana, Francesca Longo
Abstract
This paper assesses whether and to what extent the so-called External Dimension (ED) of EU migration policies is emerging as a new less visible barrier to the recognition of international protection, by impacting on asylum-seeking at EU borders. Whereas the EU and the Member States have developed standards to protect vulnerable people, protection is generally provided only once potential refugees gain access to the EU territory and to asylum determination procedures. Still, the plethora of instruments that the EU has concluded with third countries to prevent migratory flows, and that over time have taken the form of arrangements, deals, partnerships, compacts, readmission agreements etc., inevitably affect asylum-seekers’ mobility, their possibility to enter the EU territory, and the ensuing right to make asylum claims. In this sense, the ED is potentially set to emerge as disguised form of refoulement, by devolving to countries of transit and origin the responsibility for intercepting movements of asylum-seekers. To investigate whether this is the case, we attempt to estimate the impact of ED tools on the number of asylum applications in the EU. Theoretically, our paper builds upon the literature on externalization and how this gets entangled with international protection. To assess the impact of ED tools on asylum-seeking, we use innovative data and methodology. We rely on an original dataset of 212 EU ED instruments adopted with third countries of origin and transit between 2000-2020. This dataset is then combined with official statistics on asylum applications in the EU. Data are analysed through synthetic control method –an increasingly popular approach to policy evaluation in several fields, but not so much in migration policy. Our strategy consists in selecting flows of asylum-seekers of nationalities whose origin countries (or key transit countries) were the object of an ED instrument; selecting other flows from nationalities that were not the object of ED instruments; constructing synthetic controls (replicas) of the flows of interest; and comparing the post-intervention outcome for the ‘real’ cases with their synthetic replicas to observe the effect of the intervention (if any). In so doing, we introduce a novel, quasi-experimental approach, that not only permits to quantify the ED’s impact on asylum-seeking – but also to provide new empirical evidence to alternative barriers to international protection.
Non-state actors in EU borders, migration and asylum management: an infrastructural approach
Chiara Loschi
Abstract
Recent scholarship on EU integration is moving beyond the intergovernmentalism/supranationalism divide to incorporate in their analysis other relevant non-regulatory policy instruments that come into play between policy formulation and policy implementation. In particular, studies between legal and interdisciplinary scholarship are starting to look into the governance of EU integration, following a ‘governance turn’ into EU studies (Börzel 2018), moving beyond the harmonization through law. They for instance start to assess how and with what implications EU funding schemes intervene as tools to govern and steer policy implementation. Along these lines, Slominski suggest to ‘go beyond studying the dynamics of EU decision-making and the role of EU institutions’ and ‘engage more systematically with international actors and institutions that have the capacity to influence EU migration policy’ (Slominski, 2021: 1). Indeed, ‘integration theories’’ traditional preoccupation with supranational versus intergovernmental processes adds to their indifference towards substantive outcomes of integration’, so that it is imperative to extend our gaze in both directions: beyond EU institutions and beyond purely legislative processes (Lavenex, 2018). In particular, an emergent literature on the administrative integration suggests to consider in the Common European Asylum System not only the harmonised laws but also the administrative system as part of system ‘including but not necessarily limited to public administration, as well as private actors such as civil society on asylum matters’ (Tsourdi 2020, p. 201). Recent publication by Pelizza and Loschi (2023) outline that international organisations such as IOM are emerging as mediating actors between member states through their data infrastructures employed into EU and nationally funded programs in migration and asylum domains. International organisations are becoming more and more unavoidable intermediary actors though their digital infrastructure to provide continuity to relocation processes by prompting data production, harmonising administrative standardisation and building continuity in time (Pelizza and Loschi 2023). Administrative implementation is allowed by IOs infrastructural continuity, and sociotechnical coordination can represent a complementary strategy to operationally achieve integration without legislative transfers of powers to EU authorities. With this contribution, I wish to discuss how scholarship on EU integration can refine its toolbox to better grasp the governance dynamics in the EU and detect the ‘operational realities’ (Tsourdi & De Bruycker 2022) in EU migration and asylum domains. In particular, attention is paid towards the role of non-state actors in the socio-technical and infrastructural integration, with subsequent relevant implications. References Börzel T. A. (2018). Governance Approaches to European Integration, Working Paper KFG N. 84, May 2028. Pelizza A., Loschi C. (2023). Telling ‘more complex stories’ of European integration: how a sociotechnical perspective can help explain administrative continuity in the Common European Asylum System, Journal of European Public Policy. https://doi.org/10.1080/13501763.2023.2197945 Tsourdi E. (2020). The emerging architecture of EU asylum policy: Insights into the administrative governance of the Common European Asylum System. In F. Bignami (Ed.), Eu Law in populist times: Crises and prospects (pp. 191–226). Cambridge University Press. https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108755641.008 Tsourdi E., De Bruycker, P. (2022). The evolving EU asylum and migration law. In E. Tsourdi & P. De Bruycker (Eds.), Research handbook on EU migration and asylum law (pp. 1–55). Edward Elgar Publishing. Slominski, P. (2021), The EU Migration Crisis: A Crisis Analysis Case Study. Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Politics, 1-20.
Refugee Protection and Solidarity. The Duties of EU Member States
Eleonora Milazzo
Abstract
The book 'Refugee Protection and Solidarity. The Duties of EU Member States' (Oxford University Press, 2023) looks to define the duties that EU member states have towards each other in the field of refugee protection. It employs the analytical tools of normative political theory to bring moral clarity to a highly divisive debate on both principles and political feasibility. The crisis of the EU asylum system has exposed the discrepancy between the commitment to solidarity enshrined in EU law and the reality of asylum provision. Importantly, this crisis is not just a symptom of failed integration, but also a distinctively moral failure. The book argues that the debate on distributive justice in the EU fails to consider refugee protection as a field in which distributive duties apply in ways similar to other domains such as social policy. Eleonora Milazzo proposes a multilayered ethics of asylum that accounts for the nature and effect of associative ties among states. She advocates for a logic of solidarity as co-responsibility for thinking about why and how EU member states ought to share the costs of refugee protection. Building on the key arguments of the book, the SISP conference paper will elaborate on the policy implications of this normative approach, specifically regarding the institutional reform of the European asylum system and the Pact's negotiations.
The EU, (re)bordering and international protection: political and normative challenges
Enrico Fassi, Sonia Lucarelli, Michela Ceccorulli
Abstract
The relevance of bordering practices and dynamics for the European Union (EU) has significantly increased in recent years, ranging from Brexit to the open-border policies towards Ukrainians fleeing Russia’s military aggression, through the crises of Schengen due to migration and COVID. In its attempts to respond to these challenges, the EU has been widely criticised especially for its approach to migration; it has been alluded to as cynical, negligent, and even “illiberal”. The aim of this article is to analyse whether and in which sense this allegation is correct, providing clear normative criteria. Drawing from political theory, we identify three different understandings of “just” migration governance, all compatible with a liberal approach, and use them as benchmarks to evaluate the EU's stance. Focusing on selected EU bordering practices – physical, administrative, and external bordering – we detect a general trend towards re-bordering, meaning processes through which the control of borders is enhanced, and their exclusionary meaning is increased. Most of all, the paper shows that EU policies have been leaning towards one specific understanding of liberalism to the detriment of the others, which poses significant challenges to the EU’s credentials as a pillar of the Liberal Word Order - and of its international protection regime.
 

Panel 11.5 European economic governance in the polycrisis


European economic governance in the polycrisis

We live in a “polycrisis”, meaning that multiple crises (the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the ensuing energy and inflation crisis, the COVID-19 pandemic, the climate emergency) stress countries around the world in numerous policy domains at the same time.

Among EU member states, after the outburst of the sovereign debt crisis, initial policy responses have focused on the need to increase supranational monitoring of member states. This has materialized in the increased coordination, and increased Commission involvement, in national budgetary policies (with the European Semester, the “Sixpack”, the “Twopack”, the “Fiscal Compact”). Financial assistance to countries was mainly seen in the light of rigid conditionality (“money for reforms”), which can be seen in the bailouts of Ireland, Portugal, and most notably Greece. The creation of a permanent instruments to manage loans to countries in financial difficulties (the ESM) followed the same logic. The European banking union is another example of this increased centralization of EU financial surveillance.

Starting from 2012, a new phase has begun, marked by a more active and anti-cyclical intervention of the European Central Bank (ECB), which has adopted a more accommodating monetary policy, both towards states (committing to do “whatever it takes to preserve the euro”) and businesses: the so-called “quantitative easing” (a massive programme of public and private bond purchases) has helped reduce the cost of financing for both states and businesses throughout Europe, leading to a relative calm on financial markets as well. In the meantime, the Commission reduced its demands of fiscal consolidation.

The COVID-19 pandemic has elicited even more radical responses: i) an upgrading of the ECB quantitative easing (the Pandemic emergency purchase programme, PEPP); ii) the suspension of the Stability and Growth Pact (SGP); iii) the adoption of the Next Generation EU relief package. The latter led member states to formulate ambitious National Recovery and Resilience Plans, whose implementation is ongoing.

Finally, the Russo-Ukrainian war has led to a quick and unexpected increase in energy prices that, together with bottlenecks due to the post-pandemic recovery, yielded a rapid rise in inflation rates throughout the continent. The risk of two-digit inflation has prompted a strong U-turn in ECB monetary policy, with the phasing-out of bond purchase programmes and quick rises in interest rates. Meanwhile, the SGP remains suspended and member states are having a hard time agreeing on when and how to reform it and resume it.

This panel encourages papers that explore any aspect related to the changes illustrated above, and in particular:
• investigating the European Semester and its policy cycle, and its change within Next Generation EU;
• investigating the path-dependent and path-departing elements of NGEU;
• investigating and explaining the structure and adoption of the NRRPs;
• looking at the relationship between the “technocratic” bodies established to implement the NRRPs and the “political” bodies at the national and EU levels;
• analysing the genesis of the main institutional innovations of the previous years (which motivations have pushed member states to pursue integration? who has benefitted or lost more from the new setup?);
• focusing on the responsiveness of the EU political environment to demands arising from the European public opinion or from national public opinions;
• investigating the institutional and socioeconomic impacts of the Ukrainian crisis on the EMU and related instruments.

The panel is open to contributions based on different methodologies (quantitative analyses, case studies, analytic narratives, process tracing, comparative qualitative studies). Comparisons between European cases and cases from outside Europe are welcome. The panel is also open to studies from different disciplines: from political science to sociology, from economics to law.

Chairs: Igor Guardiancich, Mattia Guidi

Discussants: Igor Guardiancich

European finances in the European Commission’s hands: quality over quantity?
Chiara Terranova
Abstract
The Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) 2021-2027 has put European finances under the spotlight in unprecedented ways. Certainly, the creation of Next Generation EU (NGEU) as an additional financial envelope on top of the traditional budgetary framework has contributed to this outcome. For the first time in its history, the European Union (EU) is allowed to borrow money from financial markets. To fully appreciate the innovative reach of this instrument, however, it is necessary to broaden the scope of analysis. NGEU might be the result of contingent circumstances, as much as the outcome of a longer path of development in the budgetary domain that produced slow but constant institutional and inter-institutional changes. The domain of EU budget, in other words, may be less stable than traditionally acknowledged by the literature, offering interesting insights into the broader dynamics of European integration. The aim of this paper is to delve into the EU long-term budgetary politics to capture the evolving nature of institutional decision-making processes and inter-institutional relations, with a specific focus on the European Commission. The EU budget is relatively small if compared to an average national budget. Yet, it has a considerable impact on public expenditure in EU member states. Since the budgetary reform in 1988, EU long-term budgets determine the levels and purposes of European finances for at least five years. This multi-annual budgetary procedure is initiated by the Commission, which has the right to submit a budgetary proposal to the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union. The latter, as the two budgetary authorities, negotiate the proposal with an informal but increasingly relevant presence of the European Council. Studies of EU politics have well depicted the power struggles among these actors. What is still missing in the literature, though, is a clear conceptualisation and detailed empirical account of the Commission’s role in this policy domain. Given the relevance of European finances in determining the future of EU integration, understanding how this institution performs its role in budgetary politics becomes crucial. There seems to be an expectation among EU scholars for the Commission to behave as a classic Weberian bureaucracy that primarily strives for budget maximisation. This paper challenges such an interpretation, arguing that the Commission’s role in the budgetary domain is more nuanced. There is a need, therefore, to trace the evolution of the preferences and strategies of the Commission towards European finances. The aim of this contribution is to fill in this gap by sketching out a process-tracing model to study the evolution of the Commission’s role in EU budget politics. It is argued that a new intergovernmentalist approach might capture better than traditional theories the dynamics of integration in the post-Maastricht EU. This theory depicts an integration paradox resulting from the effort to reconcile the need for greater coordination with the avoidance of further centralisation. Supranational institutions, far from opposing it, are rather compliant with this process of transformation, adapting to the new dynamics of integration. A process-tracing model based on a new intergovernmentalist approach is, thus, developed to conceptualise and empirically analyse the evolution of the Commission’s preferences and strategies over time. Rather than in an increase of the size of the European finances, the Commission seems progressively interested in exploiting the budget as a means to pursue its political priorities. Under the pressures of a more politicised environment, the Commission adjusts its preferences and strategies, acting as a pragmatic entrepreneur and repositioning itself in the institutional system of the EU. This implies institutional changes in the preferences of the Commission, as well as an adaptation of its inter-institutional relations with other relevant actors of the budgetary domain, especially with the European Council. This new theoretical and methodological framework intends to shed light on the progressive emergence of a closer link between European finances and the political agenda of the Commission, with considerable implications for the integration process. Besides the theoretical contribution, the paper also provides first empirical evidence on how the preferences and strategies of the Commission have evolved across the six long-term budgets of the EU. These insights, which result primarily from elite interviews conducted in Brussels, might prove valuable in understanding better the adoption of new financial instruments in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. Not only a sudden crisis but an underlying process of adaptation and repositioning explains how the Commission played its role in EU budget politics.
Form or substance? Member states compliance with EU fiscal rules
Tiziano Zgaga
Abstract
Research has shown that during implementation member states (member states) seek to ‘regain control’ of fiscal policy as a core state power by adopting stricter or looser rules than required by the EU. At the same time, we also observe that member states choose legal tools with a different degree of bindingness for complying with EU fiscal rules. As a matter of fact, some member states might opt for an ordinary law, others for a law with stronger legal force than an ordinary law, yet others might even opt for changing the constitution. This paper studies how and why member states change the legal tool (form) and the content (substance) in order to comply with EU fiscal rules. Empirically, I analyse the (compliant) implementation of the Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance (Fiscal Compact) in three countries (France, Germany and Italy). I find different combinations of bindingness and restrictiveness and explain them through the nature of the EU rules, the need to signal compliance, and member states willingness and capacity to comply. The preliminary analysis suggests that, when complying with an EU policy, the form (bindingness) acts as a complementary or auxiliary tool for member states’ choices on the content (restrictiveness).
Wage Setting in the European Union during and after the Great Recession
Mattia Guidi, Igor Guardiancich
Abstract
This paper analyses the supranational policy-making cycle involving wage-setting mechanisms, and more precisely i) what explains the issuing of recommendations (CSRs) from the EU in this policy field; ii) what explains reforms adopted in the member states; iii) whether the European Commission’s assessments are linked to reform events. To this end, we i) coded Country-Specific Recommendations involving wage settings in the years 2008-19; ii) recoded and revised (to distinguish between commodifying and decommodifying reforms) the Labour Market Reform (LabRef) Database, managed by the Commission in cooperation with the Employment Committee (EMCO), to map all the reform events occurred in EU member states in the same period; iii) coded the Commission’s assessments contained in yearly Country Reports. Using mixed-effects regression models with country and year intercepts, we find out that: i) the Commission issues more recommendations to commodify wage settings to countries with a higher share of public workers, a lower employment rate, and which have higher centralization of wage bargaining and union density; ii) there is little influence of CSRs on reform events; commodifying reform events are found more among countries with higher union density, lower GDP growth, higher deficit, higher debt costs. In sum, while the Commission’s approach to CSRs in wage settings appears much less ‘technocratic’ than in other fields, countries are overall more influenced by supranational economic pressures.
 

Panel 11.6 Italy through the EU economic poly-crisis: economic policies and domestic politics (I)


The long period of economic crises in the European Union has particularly been challenging for Italy. The EU response to the debt crisis and its aftermath, characterized by a series of incremental reforms in economic governance and a widely criticized deflationary and fiscally restrictive stance domestically, contributed to the dramatic fragmentation and transformation of the Italian political system in the 2010s. The response to the pandemic crisis saw instead the creation of NGEU of which Italy was the main beneficiary. However, as the country gets past the pandemic, new challenges lie ahead. The reinstatement of the EU fiscal rules remains a crucial question for Italy’s fiscal space and debt sustainability, while the implementation phase of the PNRR investment plan faces inevitable domestic and external challenges, economic and political. Finally, the War in Ukraine has exacerbated already emerging inflationary pressures which further complicate the policy and distributional space for Italian policymakers, as Italy faces urgent pressures to change the trajectory of its industrial, energy, and climate policy. These multiple crises and the EU responses have differently acted as strong pressures to reform, powerful constraints, incentives, and opportunities for the country’s economic decisions.

The main goal of this panel is to underline the importance of the various facets of Italian domestic politics in mediating, interpreting, or shaping these EU-level transformations, and therefore to connect in new ways the two “images”, the national and the supranational, of the many crises and economic challenges that Italy has faced in the last two decades. The panel aims to place the focus on the political determinants of economic policy and reform outcomes, and in particular on the different Italian politics, plural:
- Electoral and party-, ‘noisy’ politics.
- Producer groups and corporatist politics.
- Business-state relations and ‘quiet’ politics.
- Technocratic and knowledge-based politics.
The panel welcomes contributions focusing on different spheres of economic policymaking in Italy, especially but not exclusively:
- Fiscal and budgetary policy.
- Financial and banking regulation.
- Industrial and competition policy.
- Welfare and labor market policy.
- The drafting and implementation of the PNRR.
- The management of inflation.
Finally, contributions connecting different analytical and theoretical tools from political science, (comparative, international, and critical) political economy, and economic sociology to understand the politics of Italian economic policies, also from a comparative perspective, are particularly welcome.

Chairs: Gabriele Beretta

Discussants: Mattia Guidi

The Eurozone’s Achilles heel: Reassessing Italy’s long decline in the context of European integration and globalization
Francesco Zezza, Philipp Heimberger, Dario Guarascio
Abstract
Abstract This paper analyzes how Italy’s decades-long decline turned the country into the Eurozone’s Achilles heel, the most vulnerable spot of the common currency. We use a new structuralist framework to synthesize different (competing) supply-side and demand-side explanations. We argue that structural domestic factors that were already present in the decades after World War II (‘original sins’) – low-cost competition and labour fragmentation, many small firms linked to low innovation, and a deep territorial divide – interacted with the policy constraints brought about by globalization and European integration to exacerbate Italy’s decline vis-à-vis its large Eurozone peers. --- Notice that the Working Paper version is available at https://web.uniroma1.it/dip_ecodir/sites/default/files/wpapers/wp238.pdf
Place-neutral policy for place-sensitive societies: A spatial assessment of Italy’s PNRR
Lorenzo Mascioli, Lauren Caroline Leek
Abstract
Since the Great Recession, spatial inequalities – and, more precisely, the widening divide in socioeconomic and institutional development between growing and left-behind places – have become a leitmotif. Earlier, the dominant approach to policy intervention for spatial development, both in academia and policy circles, had largely consisted in public investment in such strategic sectors as physical infrastructure, human capital, and innovation capacity. In recent years, this “sectoral” approach has been challenged by proponents of a more “territorial” or “place-based” approach. The latter discourages policy makers from specifying sectoral interventions ex ante, and rather encourages them to understand the specific needs and preferences of each place, and to design policy intervention accordingly. Although it can be traced back to the OECD Territorial Reviews, the place-based approach has gained traction since the publication of the Barca Report in 2009, especially as far as EU cohesion policy is concerned (see Mendez, 2013). Somewhat surprisingly, however, the EU response to the Covid-19 crisis, and notably the establishment of the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF), has marked a return to the sectoral approach: among other things, the RRF has identified six sectoral priorities at which interventions should be targeted, and has concentrated power over implementation in the hands of national executives. That the design of RRF is – in many respects – place neutral, however, does not mean that the RRF does or will not have spatial implications. On the contrary, precisely because of its place-neutral design, we expect that the impact of the RRF will differ remarkably across places. In some contexts, the RRF may even exacerbate spatial inequalities. In the present paper, we set out to perform a territorial assessment of Italy’s national recovery and resilience plan (PNRR per Italian acronym). Spatial inequalities in socioeconomic and institutional development are deeply rooted in Italy – both between and within the twenty administrative regions. Besides, although regional and local government (and social partners) have had little voice in the design of the PNRR, not least because the PNRR had to be drafted within tight deadlines, most interventions are being or will be delivered locally. Thus, we expect that the impact of the PNRR will largely depend on the capacity of local organisations to secure funds for projects, and to manage and/or outsource project delivery. To be sure, because the Italian government has introduced a clause that allocates at least two fifths of the PNRR budget to the southern regions, which have historically been characterised by lower socioeconomic and institutional development, it is unlikely that resources will cluster in the more developed regions of the North. Yet such a simple tweak may have the side-effect of concentrating resources in those southern places that fare better than the rest of the South. To study these and other hypotheses empirically, we look at the projects delivered in the PNRR framework until March 2023. We merge the two main datasets compiled by the Italian government with project-level information, isolating over 50,000 single projects. We use spatial data analysis to map out the distribution of projects and project finance across the country. We then estimate multi-level models – with projects clustered in municipalities, in turn clustered in administrative regions – to predict the distribution of projects and project finance with indicators of local socioeconomic and institutional development. We also estimate the effect of the two-fifth clause discussed earlier on the allocation of resources. Overall, we find that, although the PNRR was designed with little regard for space and places, policy outputs have a markedly territorial character. Our findings invite national and EU policy makers to think much more carefully about the spatial implications of the RRF, and more broadly about the spatial implications of place-neutral policy.
Does politics affect banking? Evidence from the institutional trajectory of the Italian banking system
Manuela Moschella, Fabio Bulfone
Abstract
The relationship between banks and politics has attracted significant scholarly attention. In particular, the literature on business power has helped shed light on the multiple channels through which banks are able to influence public authorities’ decisions. Whereas the influence that banks exert on politics has been extensively investigated, the inverse relationship has either received systematic less attention or mostly read in negative terms. In particular, political ties are usually regarded as detrimental to bank efficiency and profitability, as well as to financial stability. This paper contributes to the scholarship on the political influences on banking. In particular, the purpose of this study is to investigate the impact of political connections on commercial banks’ institutional development over time. To this end, we focus on the evolution of three Italian banks – Unicredit, Intesa San Paolo and Monte dei Paschi. Specifically, we analyze the evolutionary dynamics of the three banks in two critical junctures: the consolidation period of the 1990s and the post-2008 market turbulence. The comparative analysis shows that political connections are not inherently bad. That is, as the trajectory of Unicredit and ISP indicates, politics supported consolidation and helped navigate the financial crisis turmoil and its aftermath. What explains the divergent fortunes of MPS is thus not political connections per se but how these connections are mediated via corporate governance.
 

Panel 11.6 Italy through the EU economic poly-crisis: economic policies and domestic politics (II)


The long period of economic crises in the European Union has particularly been challenging for Italy. The EU response to the debt crisis and its aftermath, characterized by a series of incremental reforms in economic governance and a widely criticized deflationary and fiscally restrictive stance domestically, contributed to the dramatic fragmentation and transformation of the Italian political system in the 2010s. The response to the pandemic crisis saw instead the creation of NGEU of which Italy was the main beneficiary. However, as the country gets past the pandemic, new challenges lie ahead. The reinstatement of the EU fiscal rules remains a crucial question for Italy’s fiscal space and debt sustainability, while the implementation phase of the PNRR investment plan faces inevitable domestic and external challenges, economic and political. Finally, the War in Ukraine has exacerbated already emerging inflationary pressures which further complicate the policy and distributional space for Italian policymakers, as Italy faces urgent pressures to change the trajectory of its industrial, energy, and climate policy. These multiple crises and the EU responses have differently acted as strong pressures to reform, powerful constraints, incentives, and opportunities for the country’s economic decisions.

The main goal of this panel is to underline the importance of the various facets of Italian domestic politics in mediating, interpreting, or shaping these EU-level transformations, and therefore to connect in new ways the two “images”, the national and the supranational, of the many crises and economic challenges that Italy has faced in the last two decades. The panel aims to place the focus on the political determinants of economic policy and reform outcomes, and in particular on the different Italian politics, plural:
- Electoral and party-, ‘noisy’ politics.
- Producer groups and corporatist politics.
- Business-state relations and ‘quiet’ politics.
- Technocratic and knowledge-based politics.
The panel welcomes contributions focusing on different spheres of economic policymaking in Italy, especially but not exclusively:
- Fiscal and budgetary policy.
- Financial and banking regulation.
- Industrial and competition policy.
- Welfare and labor market policy.
- The drafting and implementation of the PNRR.
- The management of inflation.
Finally, contributions connecting different analytical and theoretical tools from political science, (comparative, international, and critical) political economy, and economic sociology to understand the politics of Italian economic policies, also from a comparative perspective, are particularly welcome.

Chairs: Gabriele Beretta

Discussants: Manuela Moschella

Are fiscal policies a deal-breaker? Evidence from Italy
Alessia Aspide
Abstract
The political effects of fiscal policymaking have increasingly captured the research agenda of several political economists. The expectation that tax increases and spending cuts, also known as austerity measures, are unpopular and therefore punished at the next election, has been empirically both proved and disproved. In studying the electoral consequences of austerity, scholars often presume that fiscal policy is a “deal-breaker”, i.e., the one variable explaining governments’ (un)popularity. Yet, we miss evidence on how much citizens at the polls care about fiscal policy relative to other salient policies. Fiscal policy is only one aspect of more complex political dynamics and citizens may care about issues, other than the economy, which knock fiscal policies off of citizens’ evaluations. Does the introduction in the political agenda of contentious social policies affect how much citizens weigh fiscal policies? To investigate the relative importance that individuals attach to austerity, I employ an original two-part conjoint experiment, to be carried out in Italy, a country where austerity is widely unpopular. Respondents are presented with eight pairs of parties and are asked each time to choose which one they would vote for based on their political agenda. By allowing the simultaneous estimation of multiple policies in the agenda, the conjoint design mirrors closely the real choice that voters face. By showing social policies only in the second experimental arm, I estimate whether the overall effect of fiscal policies changes when social policies also appear on the agenda.
NextGenerationEU and the Trajectory of the Italian Growth Model: the domestic challenges to its transformation
Gabriele Beretta
Abstract
The institutional architecture of the EMU and the political-economic consensus behind it after the debt-crisis have pressured Italy to transform its growth model into a more export-led one, pursuing growth through a much-contested strategy of internal devaluation, structural reforms, and primary surpluses. The pandemic crisis opened a narrow but significant policy and political space to deviate from the previous trajectory. In particular, the EU flagship response, NextGenerationEU, envisages and makes possible some elements of two growth strategies, alternative to the previous austerity-devaluation model: an instrument to fiscally stimulate domestic demand in the short-to-mid-term, and a possible kickstart package to increase supply-side productivity through knowledge-economy-like investments, instead of devaluation. However, despite the evident failures of the pre-Covid trajectory and the temporarily relaxed external pressures, Italian policymakers struggled to produce a coherent growth strategy that could exploit fully this opportunity and set a different trajectory for Italy’s growth model. This paper looks at the main political coalitions that competed for government at the turn of the crisis and attempts to trace the political and ideational foundations of their growth strategies, underlining the still strong endogenous constraints to the model transformation. It argues, in particular, that while the Center-left coalition is still unable to push significantly for a fiscal, investment-led expansion also because of its continuous entrapment in the self-built “vincolo esterno” cage, the Right-wing coalition, although freer from the ideational commitment to fiscal responsibility, lacks the coalitional or ideological incentives to pursue either a domestic demand-led or an innovation-led growth strategy. When does a country choose politically to change its growth model’s trajectory? In 2020 at least three concomitating processes have intersected: first, the culmination of a long-term process of stagnation and decline of the Italian economy, which has eroded the growth model's capacity to deliver growth and attract political support, failing from both its ‘accumulation’ and its ‘legitimacy’ sides. Second, a major economic shock (the second in a decade) that has hit Italy even harder than other Eurozone countries, and may be framed as a critical juncture and increase the demand for alternative solutions. And third, a contingent European economic and institutional response – symbolized by the creation of NextGenerationEU - that breaks in many aspects with the past in terms of external constraints, and of the incentives it provides to crisis countries, and opens a window for different growth strategies. The combination of these processes should, at least in principle, make us expect that Italian policymakers would try to exploit this opportunity to adopt an alternative set of growth strategies and channel the Italian growth model on a different trajectory. However, domestic political actors must be willing and able to elaborate a growth strategy and gather the socio-political support from groups and electors to deliver it. What this paper aims to do, however, is to problematize this assumption by looking at the domestic politics of growth strategies, and underly the endogenous constraints which make a path-breaking evolution particularly difficult. By analyzing the political projects of the main coalitions, it emerges that none of them seems to be willing or able to change the country’s trajectory, and in particular, that the economic and political requirements of the politically dominant social bloc coalesced around the now governing Right coalition strongly push against such change.
Between activation and protection of outsiders: Welfare and labour market policies of the Five Star Movement
Beatrice Carella
Abstract
The rise of anti-establishment challenger parties from the Left in the aftermath of the financial crisis has produced a significant impact in the structure of European party systems, especially in the Southern region. In all the main Southern European countries (Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain), these parties reached relevant policy-making positions in parliaments and governments by proposing reform agendas that had welfare and labour markets at their core. Yet, we still lack an in-depth assessment of the social policy positions pursued by these parties. The present paper aims at addressing this research gap by focusing on the case of the Five Star Movement (Movimento 5 Stelle, M5S) in Italy. In particular, the paper investigates the evolution of M5S’s social policy positions since its foundation until its arrival to power (2009 – 2018) and the content of the policies it actually promoted when it was the main coalition partner in office, namely during the “Conte 1” (2018 – 2019) and “Conte 2” (2019 – 2021) governments. The research relies on qualitative content analysis of programmatic materials released by the party, blogposts by the party founder Beppe Grillo and semi-structured interviews with party officials in parliament and the executive who actively participated in the policy-making of welfare and labour market reforms. The contribution of the paper is two-fold. Firstly, it analyzes M5S’s policy positions in terms of the main dimensions of social policy content proposed by the welfare politics literature, namely the party’s positioning alongside the “social consumption” vs “social investment” and the “insiders” vs “outsiders” dichotomies. Secondly, the paper advances explanatory remarks to account for the specific social policy positions held by the Five Star Movement and their evolution over time. The analysis shows that M5S prioritized the inclusion of labour market and social protection outsiders while increasingly adopting pro-social investment positions and proposing adaptive strategies to changes occurring in the world of work. When in office, its policies combined increased protection and income maintenance guarantees for outsiders with activation measures, leaving aside a broader recalibration agenda. Finally, it is argued that this peculiar combination of pro-outsiders and pro-activation stances can be explained mainly by taking into account party competition dynamics and M5S’s changing linkages with its electoral constituencies. By doing so, the paper contributes to our understanding of the evolution of welfare politics in Italy and the social policy implications of the rise to power of one of the most successful anti-establishment actors in post-2008 Southern Europe.
Italian Public Opinion in the Wake of Brexit: An Investigation into Attitudes Towards EU Policies and Potential Referendum
Marino De Luca
Abstract
The European Union (EU) represents a political unification project that has seen success in promoting peace and melding European nations into a supranational structure. However, recent political and economic crises have unveiled institutional shortcomings within the EU, leading to citizen disaffection, most markedly demonstrated by the United Kingdom's Brexit vote. These crises have imposed substantial pressures for reform and have acted as powerful constraints, incentives, and opportunities, especially for Italy, a country that has undergone significant political transformations. In Italy, a political earthquake spurred by the national elections of 2013 and 2018 resulted in the centre-right, with North League, and the Five Star Movement emerging as major political forces. In 2022 the Brothers of Italy's affirmation as the leading party opened a new era of Italian politics. Based on the pre-Covid, this paper aims to investigate the potential influence of Brexit on Italian citizens, specifically their response to a hypothetical UK-style referendum on leaving the EU. Analysing data from a 2019 voter study, it seeks to identify clusters of Italian citizens characterized by their attitudes towards European policies and a potential EU referendum. This analysis will explore how Italian domestic politics mediate, interpret, or shape EU-level transformations, connecting the national and supranational 'images' of the multiple crises and economic challenges Italy has faced over the last two decades. Ultimately, this study strives to contribute to our understanding of the political determinants of economic policy and reform outcomes in Italy. It aims to illuminate how electoral and party politics, as well as state-citizen relations, influence attitudes towards EU policies and potential shifts in EU membership, set within the broader context of Italy's economic policy-making and the country's unique trajectory amidst economic crises, EU responses, and the aftermath of the Brexit vote.