This essay takes stock of the literature on how European Union policies are being put into practice by the member states. It first provides an overview of the historical evolution of the field. After a relatively late start in the mid 1980s, the field has meanwhile developed into one of the growth industries within EU research. The paper identifies three different waves of EU implementation scholarship. The first wave considered implementation primarily a problem of institutional efficiency. In the second wave, the degree of compatibility between European demands and domestic policy legacies took centre stage. However, many second-wave scholars complemented the basic "misfit" argument with a set of additional explanatory factors to account for deviant cases. In the third wave, some researchers began to stress the role of domestic politics, while others re-discovered the importance of administrative capabilities. As an attempt to synthesise some of the partial explanations presented by earlier research, one group of scholars pointed to the existence of culturally-shaped country clusters, each with its own typical style of complying with EU legislation. After this historical overview, the paper summarises the most important theoretical, empirical and methodological lessons to be drawn from existing studies, and it discusses promising avenues for future research. First, most scholars seem to agree on the basic set of factors that may have an impact on transposition processes. The main task to be accomplished by future research is to establish under which conditions which configurations of factors prevail. While we already know that there are country-specific patterns, the importance of sector-specific patterns will need to be explored further. Second, greater research efforts will have to be devoted to the neglected area of enforcement and application. In theoretical terms, going back to the insights of traditional domestic implementation research seems to be most promising for this type of studies. Third, the paper cautions against the poor quality of the data employed by the growing number of quantitative compliance studies. Unless the problems with the data can be solved, scholars are well advised to rely on comparative case studies, at least in addition to statistical analyses. To increase the number of cases to be covered by qualitative research, the paper makes the case for crafting collaborative qualitative research projects as a viable alternative to quantitative research.
There is a plethora of studies on interest groups in the European
Union. While these studies have generated a wealth of insights, it
is not actually clear what they have accomplished. This Living
Review seeks to identify those areas of interest group studies in
which our knowledge is fairly consolidated and in which major
research gaps or major controversies can be noted. I argue that
these research gaps and controversies stem from both the empirical
variance in the interest group landscape and the theoretical
segmentation of EU interest group studies. These have been shaped by
influences from Comparative Politics, International Relations,
Policy Analysis, and Democratic Theory. I suggest that future
research should engage to a greater extent in cross-cutting
theoretical debates in order to overcome the pronounced demarcation
of research areas and in more rigorous theory testing than has
sometimes been the case. The article starts by discussing the
problem of conceptualizing interest groups before moving on to the
fissured theoretical landscape. Thereafter, major research themes
are discussed. First, I review the relation between EU institutions
and interest groups. Here, I look both into multilevel governance
and Europeanization studies that focus on the vertical interaction
and into analyses that stress the horizontal segmentation of the EU
system in different institutions and sectors. Second, I analyze core
themes of EU and comparative interest group studies, namely the
issue of collective action, the access of interest groups to
policy-makers and their influence on EU policymaking.
This Living Review deals with the division of competences between the EU and its member states in a multilevel political system. The article summarises research on the relations between the EU and the national and sub-national levels of the member states. It provides an overview on normative and theoretical concepts and empirical research. From the outset, European integration was about the transfer of powers from the national to the European level, which evolved as explicit bargaining among governments or as an incremental drift. This process was reframed with the competence issue entering the agenda of constitutional policy. It now concerns the shape of the European multilevel polity as a whole, in particular the way in which powers are allocated, delimited and linked between the different levels. The article is structured as follows: First of all, normative theories of a European federation are discussed. The section deals with different concepts of federalism and presents approaches of the economic theory of federalism in the context of the European polity. The normative considerations conclude with a discussion of the subsidiarity principle and the constitutional allocation of competences in the European Treaties. The next section covers the empirical issue of how to explain the actual allocation of competences (scope and type) between levels. Integration theories are presented here only in so far as they explain the transfer of competence from the national to the European level or the limits of this centralistic dynamics. Normative and empirical theories indeed provide some general guidelines and conclusions on the allocation of competences in the EU, but they both contradict the assumption of a separation of competences. The article therefore concludes that politics and policy-making in the EU have to be regarded as multilevel governance. The main theoretical approaches and results from empirical research on European multilevel governance are presented before the article concludes with recommendations for further discussion and research in the field. Following Fritz Scharpf, it is recommended that research on the vertical allocation of competences and the application of shared competences in the European multilevel governance should stop searching for holistic approaches (grand theory) explaining unique features of the European political system; instead, research will best succeed when relying on a variety of simpler theories and models to describe European governance modes.
This article reviews the by now extensive literature on the Europeanisation of the political systems of the EU-15, with an emphasis on parliaments and executives (i.e., governments and ministerial administrations). The Living Review highlights apparently contradictory effects of integration: de-parlamentarisation re-parlamentarisation; bureaucratisation politicisation; and centralisation diffusion. These diverging assessments of the effects of integration do, in part, reflect diversity in the EU-15; in part, they are, however, also a result of differences in the specification of variables, research designs and theoretical approaches. Work that inquires into patterns of Europeanisation - across institutional domains, countries, regions and time - and which seeks to tackle the `methodological nationalism' of the Europeanisation literature promises a clearer picture of the institutional consequences of European integration than we possess at present.
Since its inception, the European Union has stimulated many vigorous debates. This Living Review provides a state of the field perspective on the academic work that has been done to address the question of the perceptions of the European Union as a system of governance. It takes a broad scope in assessing the efforts of scholars and highlights significant theoretical and empirical contributions as well as identifying potential avenues for research. In order to understand perceptions of the EU, scholars have employed national-level frameworks of popular support, particularly partisanship and instrumental self-interest. As the number of members has increased, further research has taken a broader scope to include national identity, institutions, and attitudes regarding the normative and empirical function of both national and EU institutions. Additional works address political intermediaries such as parties, media, and elites. Finally, all of the works are fundamentally concerned with the supportive popular sentiment that underpins the EU’s legitimacy as a political institution. While there are far more works that can be practically included in this Living Review, we have attempted to construct an overview based on the dimensions that define this research as set out by significant contributions at the core of this literature.