What is Europeanisation?
The success of the concept of Europeanisation in
recent years is due to the realization that EU policy
has become domestic policy, with 80 per cent of all
policy sectors influenced in one way or another by
Such processes might better be described as
‘EUisation’, insofar as they refer to the impact of the
institutions, actors and policies of the European
Union on its member states.
But most scholars prefer to reason in terms of
Europeanisation and to avoid the unattractive
phraseology of the alternative term.
Ladrech (1994, p. 70), namely: ‘Europeanization is an
incremental process reorienting the direction and shape of
politics to the degree that EC political and economic dynamics
become part of the organizational logic of national politics and
Elsewhere, I have identified four main uses of
Europeanisation: as an independent variable driving policy and
institutional change, as a form of emulative policy transfer, as
a smokescreen for domestic reform and as an imaginary
constraint (Cole and Drake, 2000, Cole, 2001b).
Europeanisation can also signify the uploading of state
preferences or prevailing intellectual frames to the EU level,
itself a measure of the competition between national models in
the hybrid quasi-polity that the European Union has become.
Europeanisation as an ‘independent variable’
Europeanisation acts as an independent variable, when it can be
demonstrated that the European Union has produced policy change:
industrial policy, public services, environmental policy, or health and
The regulatory policy style of the European Union can either conflict with
or comfort the policy norms prevalent in member-states. In the case of
France, the role of individual commissioners as policy entrepreneurs, such
as Leon Brittan, Karel van Miert or Mario Monti in the sphere of
competition policy, has highlighted the tension between EU regulatory
norms and national political traditions.
In the British tradition, competition policy is an example of best practice, of
preventing state interventionism and ensuring a level playing field between
firms and countries. In the French tradition, competition policy has
triumphed at the expense of industrial policy,
This strong use of Europeanisation is the one that causes the most
difficulty... as it conflicts with national traditions, by definition variable.
Europeanisation as lesson-drawing and best practice
Soft Europeanisation refers to the process whereby member-states are
influenced by strong national models within their midst.
The case is demonstrated clearly in the monetary sphere, with the German
model of monetary policy management acting as a benchmark for others.
Best practice and a desire to imitate the most successful can produce a type
of institutional isomorphism (Radaelli, 1997, 2004). Insofar as this involves
importing models from a non-native political culture, this can also be
considered as a form of Europeanisation.
Europeanisation is actively promoted by the EU Commission, as well as by
member-states anxious to retain ownership of more integrated processes.
Thus: the Open method of Coordination is all about benchmarks in
employment policy and the Lisbon agenda. Thus, the Bologna process of
HE reform was initiated by member-states, not the Commission, and goes
well beyond the actual EU. But it is a form of Europeanisation.
Europeanisation as ideational
In a more ideational sense, the European perspective
has affected cognitive assumptions about national and
In all countries, public policy has become less self-
sufficient, far more embedded in interdependent
structures, and national elites have had to engage in
policy learning and to experiment with new
Role of trans-national elites in banking and finance
especially. Role of epistemic communties, think
Europeanisation as a smokescreen
Europeanisation has also been used as a smokescreen for domestic political
The European ‘constraint’ has been evoked to make it easier to implement
difficult domestic reforms. Administrative modernizers in France, Italy and
elsewhere used Europe as a powerful domestic political resource for
driving through change (Lequesne, 1993, 1996, Radaelli, 1997).
Conforming with the Maastricht convergence critieria provided an
opportunity to cut public expenditure and raise taxes; the Italian case was
exemplary in this respect. Overdue reforms could be laid at the door of the
But since the early 2000s, also, the EU has been routinely blamed for
national economic ills – to the extent that the key supranational institutions
of the Union have had to fight hard for their legitimacy.
There is also a much more constructed, ‘bottom up,
version of Europeanization and of euro-scepticism, its
How do people come to define and use Europe in
their domestic arenas – whether positively or
negatively – to justify and advance particular
positions? This offers an actor-centred and not just an
Rozenberg’s four euro-scepticisms.
Europeanisation as adaptation
Adaptation/adjustment of preferences to the
perceived requirements of integration is the
strongest form of Europeanisation. There has
been a proliferation of work looking at the
domestic effects of European integration on
political (typically executive) structures and on
Inertia and rejection
Inertia signifies the absence of any causal
relationship between European-level and domestic
change (Börzel, 2002). Policy change, or changing
relations between the state and non-state actors, for
example, might have nothing to do with EU level
Rejection is much stronger. Social movement and
party actors use an anti-EU discourse to shape their
own strategies, while policy-makers resist unwelcome
developments in European integration by all available
means at their disposal.
A word of caution
There is common agreement that European integration has called into
question many features associated with traditional models of European
politics and policies (Bulmer, 2005, Featherstone and Radaelli, 2004, Cole
and Drake, 2000, Ladrech 1994).#
It is difficult, however, to disentangle the impact of European integration
from other causes of policy change, such as economic globalisation,
changing policy fashions and endogenous political reforms. As much as a
concept, Europeanisation is a discourse that can be used and abused.
What is the unit of analysis? Is it a country? There are always coalitions,
cleavages, partisan and issue-based rivalries
The effects of Europeanisation are contingent on underlying events and
closely related to the history of the European Union itself. The role of the
EU in the mid-1980s, e.g., before the implementation of the SEA, was
vastly different from that in the mid-2000s. The number of countries has
doubled across the period.
Europe and some national traditions
Some traditions have always been difficult to reconcile with the European
Britain as the awkward partner is a case in point.
Others - such as the Federal Republic of Germany – for long appeared
tailor-made to accompany the acceleration of European unity. Europe was
Germany writ large: monetary policy was to be based on the German
model; extending EU competencies was intellectually easy to conceive,
because the EU seemed just to be another level in the federal system.
But, even in countries such as Germany, the European construction is not
static! The development of EI has been, to some measure, contested by
German länder, who complain of losing functions to the German Federal
government and to the EU.
The domestic goodness of fit can vary considerably. In the
case of France, the Europe of the Six was much easier to
control than the Europe of the 25.
Europeanisation is also closely related to leadership, to
perceptions of the role a specific country has within the Union.
In the traditional French model, .e.g., Europeanisation was
greatly valued, as the EU was a means for disseminating
French influence across and beyond Europe.
But as the EU has enlarged, and as the policy direction it has
taken has shifted, Europeanisation is less likely to be framed in
such positive terms.
Though this is especially pertinent in the case of France, other
nation traditions can have equally complex relationship with
the theme of EU and Europeansiation:
Italy and Spain
Italy: instinctively pro-European and a founder member. But
the Euro is causing serious adjustment problems. Italy can no
longer use the tool of currency devaluation to ease pressure in
its economy. The Euro seriously contested by parts of the
Italian political class
Spain: instinctively pro-European.. great beneficiary of
structural funds from late 1980s onwards. EU as a safeguard
for Spanish democracy. Massive Yes vote for the constitution
in 2005 (72%). But also demonstrated itself to be a powerful
defenders of its own national interest in the debates over the
Convention and fiercely resist any weakening of its QMV.
Ireland and the Netherlands
Ireland: another country whose renaissance has been linked to
EU largesse. Spectacular economic growth – one of the
powerhouses of the euro-zone. Positive image of Europe
inculcated by objective one monies. Yet, even in Ireland, the
Nice Treaty was, at first, rejected by popular referendum.
Netherlands: another key pro-European country, where the
Monnet model of elite-driven integration was supposed to
have large tacit support. But the spectacular rejection of the
Constitution in June 2005 demonstrated the weakening
popular legitimacy and the ability of Europeanisation to shift
from being part of the national project to a perceived external
and unwelcome force.
New CEE states
Poland: one of the key eurosceptical countries in the
CEE. Europeanisation experienced as an assault on
the key Catholic, clerical traditions: the entry of the
Extreme Right (Sambroona) into the previous
government a sign of the malaise of the Polish
experience. The anti-EU discourse of the twins.. Now
given way to a new wave of pro-European
enthusiasm. But is this skin deep?
Europeanisation as the imperfect art of uploading
The European level has been valued as a site for the export of French ideas,
policies and personnel.
France has been at least as successful in uploading its preferences (and
personnel) to the EU level as any other member-state.
The basic architecture of the European bureaucracy (based around
directions générales and competitive examinations) is drawn from the
experience of the French civil service.
Core common policies, such as CAP, were designed with the satisfaction
of French domestic interests in mind.
Through the logic of the acquis communautaire, the forces of path
dependency within the EU are strong (Pierson, 1996). These forces have
been consistent with the pursuit of French national interests.
French leaders have been influential in steering key institutional reforms,
such as the creation of the European Council in 1974, the draft
Constitutional Treaty in 2004/simplified treaty 2007; and in launching
major policy developments, such as the Single European Act, Economic
and Monetary Union and the Common Foreign and Security Policy.
Attempts to upload French models not always successful
The Jospin left-wing government of 1997-2002 repeatedly
insisted upon the need to develop and defend the European
social model, but failed to upload constraining targets and
penalties (Cole, JCMS, 2001)
Sarkozy, like other French leaders previously, has made little
headway in terms of the ECB and Economic Government
Selck and Kaeding (French Politics, 2004) calculate that
France is less successful than the UK, Germany or even Italy
in transforming its original policy preferences into EU
Adapting and Adjusting to Europe
Adapting to the requirements of European integration is
the strongest form of Europeanisation. The line of
causality is clear. Domestic institutions and actors
adapt their internal functioning to the logic of
Adjusting to Europe implies a rather less clear-cut
causal dynamic whereby the requirements of
European integration are accommodated within
The Council of State long resisted the doctrine of the primacy of EU law,
affirmed by the European Court of Justice as early as 1964. It finally
admitted the principle of EU legal primacy in its Nicolo ruling of 1989.
Transforming constraint into opportunity, the Council of State
subsequently acted as a political entrepreneur, seizing the window of
opportunity provoked by legal uncertainty and the legitimacy vested by the
European treaties to redefine its role within the French polity.
As the highest body of administrative law in the land, the Council of State
has insisted upon its role as the guardian of the EU treaties and their
implementation in France
Europeanisation strengthens legal actors over political ones.
Administrative tribunals have insisted on the legality of EU directives even
when they have not been transposed into domestic law by the French
Some examples where the ECJ has been asked to arbitrate have been
genetically modified foods (1998), the remuneration of banking depositions
(2002) and over working time (2003).
Reluctant Adjustment;The core
executive and EU policy-making
European has created serious challenges of coordination and cultural adaptation for
the French administration and core executive
In comparative terms, French decision-making on European issues is in theory a
model of tight coordination and core executive control. European policy is
officially managed by the General Secretariat for European Affairs (SGAE), an
inter-ministerial mission formally attached to the Prime Minister’s office
Officials in the SGAE consider the French model to be the best in Europe. The
SGAE not only coordinates French positions before and during EU negotiations,
but arbitrates between rival ministerial claims and attempts to police the
implementation of decisions taken.
Officials contrasted the French model favorably with that of Germany in particular,
where multi-level institutional inputs and a lack of chancellor coordination were
deemed to produce sub-optimal outcomes.
But in its 2007 report, the Council of State recommended the creation of a strategic
European cell in the Elysée, argued for a stronger presidential political steering of
European issues and implied shortcomings with existing arrangements.
Adjusting (with difficulty) to Europe: the French
civil service machine
There is underlying unease across the French governmental machine about
the role of EU actors usurping traditional prerogatives.
There remains a weak EU culture within French ministries. Central
divisions within individual ministries are imbued with the culture of the
decree and are reluctant to engage in impact assessment exercises.
As directives are highly technical, delays are commonplace. In terms of
directives, the numbers have been increasing, from 70 in 1995 to 130 in
2003 and 111 in 2004. Ministries complain that they lack the expertise to
transpose EU directives into national law.
In a string of reports, the European Commission has criticized France for
its poor record in transcribing directives
France has regularly been found guilty by the ECJ, most recently (at the
time of writing in December 2006) in relation to its failure to implement
correctly the 2001 directive on genetically modified foods.
Inertia and institutions: the case of
the French parliament
The existence of a democratic deficit is an established feature amongst
scholars of the EU system of governance. In the case of the French Fifth
Republic, the democratic deficit forms part of the 1958 constitution itself,
which removes large areas of public policy from parliamentary scrutiny.
But European integration has not really empowered the French parliament.
The National Assembly still only gives its opinion and has no binding
authority. The French executive has used the ‘urgency’ procedure measures
to push through EU legislation by decree. EU directives have been
regrouped into packages and presented to parliament for block approval
The weakness of the French parliament owes little to the European Union.
Inertia and the causality of policy
In the Europeanisation literature, inertia signals the absence of clear causal
relationships between the policy change and European integration.
The case of economic and monetary union demonstrates the limits of
Europeanisation analysis. EMU is the Europeanised policy domain par
excellence. But, as I have argued elsewhere, EMU was only possible
because the fundamental economic policy paths in France, Germany and
elsewhere had narrowed long before the moves to monetary union.
Monetary Union crowned a process of EC economic convergence that was
already well engaged. From the 1970s onwards, German norms in
economic management were exported across Europe.
Resistance: public services, state
aids, industrial policy
In the case of France the toughest challenges have been in
those areas where the French model has been the most
distinctive, in public services and industrial policy notably.
In the mainstream French tradition, in contrast, competition
policy is criticized as a practice inspired by US anti-trust
policies, designed primarily to safeguard the interests of non-
European (American and Japanese) trans-national
competition policy threatened cherished French beliefs about
the role of public service and economic policy and forced
French governments to abandon key elements of their post-war
political and economic model.
Traditional French conceptions of public service were based
on the delivery of essential services by public sector
monopolies (gas, electricity, rail, postal and
telecommunication services, air transport), which benefited
from protection against domestic or foreign competition, and
which were recognized with a public service mission in French
The liberal frame of opening up monopolies was prevalent
within the Commission Favoured measures included
privatisation, the strict regulation of state subsidies, the
opening up of specific industrial sectors to competition and the
creation of independent competition agencies.
The 2005 referendum on the draft
The rejection of the constitutional treaty in the May 2005 referendum sent
shockwaves around Europe. There was a No vote of 54.7 per cent (45.3 per
cent for the Yes) on a high turnout (69.4 per cent).
The No vote progressed by almost 5.72 per cent of electors by comparison
to 1992 (Hainsworth, 2006). It recruited a majority of electors in all social
classes except the liberal professions.
The mainstays of the No camp in the two referendums were the left of the
left and the right of the right, with the No in 1992 and 2005 supported by
the vast bulk of electors identifying with the FN, the PCF and the far-left
(Perrineau, 2005: 239).
This traditional alliance represented three-quarters of the No vote in 2005.
They were joined by a small majority of PS voters, signifying a major shift
since 1992, with 56 per cent of declared PS electors voting No in 2005,
against only 22 per cent thirteen years earlier.
the referendum campaign revealed deep seated popular fears
about the direction of European integration. The campaign
abounded with uncertainties about the new Europe.
The proposed Bolkestein services directive mobilized trade
unions and anti-globalisation groups such as ATTAC in fierce
opposition to the treaty.
The centre of gravity of the French debate revolved around a
binary opposition between ‘social’ Europe, presented as
consistent with national traditions, and an alien liberal Europe.
But Eurobarometer puts the French in the EU average.
These empirical cases demonstrate examples
of uploading, adaptation, inertia and resistance
Europeanisation needs to bear in mind these
fine distinctions and not overplay or stretch the
concept too much