Examiners' commentaries 2010

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					                                                                                 Examiners’ commentaries 2010



Examiners’ commentaries 2010
 88 Politics and policies of the European Union – Zone B


 Important note
       This commentary reflects the examination and assessment arrangements
       for this unit in the academic year 2009–10. The format and structure of
       the examination may change in future years, and any such changes will
       be publicised on the virtual learning environment (VLE).


 Specific comments on questions
    Candidates should answer FOUR of the following TWELVE questions. All
    questions carry equal marks.

 Question 1
    Do theoretical accounts of European integration effectively help us understand
    why states cooperate? Discuss with reference to either neo-functionalism or
    liberal intergovernmentalism.
       Reading for this question
       This question relates to the debate between intergovernmentalism and
       supranationalism, summarised in Rosamond (2000) which is listed under
       ‘Further readings’ in the introductory chapter of the subject guide. You
       will also find the readings listed at the outset of Chapters 1 and 4 of the
       subject guide and Moravcsik (1993/1999) in the Further reading section
       of the introductory chapter useful in addressing this question.
       Approaching the question
       The question asks candidates to assess the explanatory strength of either
       neofunctionalism or liberal intergovernmentalism as a theory of European
       integration. Candidates are expected to show their understanding of the
       key aspects of these two theories. In order to assess how relevant these
       theories are in explaining state cooperation, the neo-functionalist account,
       candidates are asked to analyse key developments of the European
       integration process.
       To be awarded the highest marks for this question you would go on
       to complement this analysis with an assessment of how relevant these
       theoretical approaches still are today in explaining current dynamics of
       cooperation and non-cooperation among European states.

 Question 2
    What is the likelihood of Turkey becoming a full member of the EU and why?
       Reading for this question
       This question refers to the first and final chapters of the subject guide
       that deal with the historical evolution and future prospects of European
       integration. Candidates will also find the discussion and references in
       Chapter 16 in Wallace, Wallace and Pollack (2005) very useful.




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88 Politics and policies of the European Union


             Approaching the question
             This question asks the candidate to assess the question of Turkish
             membership. Candidates would advance the analysis from a comparative
             perspective, scrutinising the special case of Turkey in light of earlier
             enlargement rounds. They would identify the similarities and differences
             of the Turkish application and identify its path over the past decades.
             A good answer would seek to identify the particular sensitivities that
             the prospect of Turkish membership has raised among some of the old
             Member States and seek to assess whether these can be overcome. A more
             sophisticated answer might place the Turkish enlargement debate in the
             context of the EU’s wider foreign policy aspirations which would allow for
             a more comprehensive assessment of the cost/benefit calculations of the
             Turkish membership debate.

    Question 3
        ‘The rise in the powers of the European Parliament has come at the expense of
        the Council.’ Discuss.
             Reading for this question
             This question refers to the issues discussed in the European Parliament
             section of Chapter 2 of the subject guide. You will also find a more
             extensive discussion of the wider democratic legitimisation of the
             European Union in Chapter 6 of Hix (2005).
             Approaching the question
             This question requires candidates to analyse to what extent recent
             institutional reforms in the EU aimed at silencing concerns about the
             ‘EU democratic deficit’ have altered the power balance between the EU’s
             two principal legislative institutions, the Council and Parliament. This
             would usually involve an attempt to trace the evolution of the European
             Parliament’s power since the Treaty of Rome.
             A good answer would pay particular attention to the changes in legislative
             procedures, especially the introduction and expansion of the co-decision
             procedure. A more sophisticated answer would then seek to address
             whether the distribution of decision-making powers in the EU is a zero
             sum game, as the exam question implies.

    Question 4
        ‘The influence of the European Commission in EU policy making has often been
        exaggerated.’ Discuss.
             Reading for this question
             This question relates primarily to Chapters 2 and 6 of the subject guide.
             You will also find a useful discussion of this question in Chapters 2 and 3
             in Hix (2005), which are listed under Essential reading in the introductory
             section of the subject guide.
             Approaching the question
             Candidates are asked to assess the European Commission’s role in the EU
             policy process. This involves analysing the Commission’s role vis-à-vis the
             role of other actors involved in the EU policy-making process who also
             claim policy-making power.
             One useful way of approaching this question would be to start with an
             analysis of the Commission’s ‘sole right of legislative initiative’ under the
             first pillar. In addition, a more sophisticated answer would compare and
             contrast the Commission’s role in this respect across all three pillars.

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      You could then discuss the extent to which other institutions such
      as the European Council, the Council of Ministers or the European
      Parliament have been able to determine the direction of EU policy-making
      independently from the Commission. This discussion could then usefully
      be extended to include the role of interest groups and their efforts to
      influence the European policy agenda.
      In assessing the power relationship between the Commission and the
      Council when it comes to EU policy-making, a good answer would try to
      assess the independence of the European Commission by analysing issues
      such as the selection of the Commission President, the Commissioners and
      the other Commission staff.
      In order to achieve the highest marks on this question, candidates will
      have to show familiarity with relevant theoretical approaches such as the
      literature on delegation which discusses ‘principal-agent’ relationships.
      You will find a particularly useful discussion of this literature in Chapters
      2 and 3 of Hix (2005).

Question 5
   ‘Member State interests explain the rise in power of the European Court of
   Justice.’ Discuss.
      Reading for this question
      This question relates to the writings on judicial politics in the EU, referred
      in Chapters 1 and 2 of the subject guide. There is also a very useful
      discussion on this issue in Chapter 4 of Hix (2005).
      Approaching the question
      This question requires an analysis of the factors behind the power of
      the European Court of Justice. Initially this asks candidates to scrutinise
      the powers of the Court, as set out in the founding treaties and as they
      have evolved since then. You could start by summarising the initial aims
      Member States were pursuing when delegating authority to the ECJ,
      before looking at the reasons behind the Court’s expansion of power.
      A good answer would then concentrate on a discussion of the factors
      behind the Courts’ increasing importance in the institutional framework of
      the EU. These would include the role of national and European judges and
      their respective agendas, the preferences of national governments, as well
      as institutional factors that would require a discussion of concepts such as
      ‘path-dependence’ and ‘unintended consequences’. It would also include
      references to the ‘principal-agent’ literature that highlights the benefits
      and potential pitfalls of processes of delegation.
      To achieve the highest marks, you would also need to analyse whether
      there have been instances in which the European Court of Justice went
      beyond its role as the mere interpreter of European Union law to become
      an institution which shaped the European integration process through its
      decisions, i.e. having an independent influence on policy outcomes. Part of
      that discussion could involve the analysis of fundamental principles such
      as ‘direct effect’, ‘supremacy’, ‘mutual recognition’, etc. which were not
      explicitly set out in the Treaties but established by the European Court of
      Justice.




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88 Politics and policies of the European Union


    Question 6
        Is the Lisbon Treaty likely to make the EU more effective in the international
        arena?
             Reading for this question
             This question relates to writings of Menon (2004) and Young (2004)
             which are referred to in Chapters 11 and 12 of the subject guide.
             Particularly useful sections for this question can also be found in Chapters
             15 and 17 of Wallace, Wallace and Pollack (2005).
             Approaching the question
             This question asks candidates to assess the role of EU foreign policy as it
             relates to Member States’ actions in the international arena. A discussion
             of the various aspects of EU external relations activities could be a
             useful starting point when answering this question. This would include
             a discussion of the EU’s Common Commercial/Trade Policy as well as
             Member State efforts to move towards a Common Foreign Security Policy.
             A more sophisticated answer might also include new areas of EU external
             action which have been developed in areas of environmental policy (e.g.
             negotiations on the Kyoto Protocol) or migration policy (where the EU is
             engaged in increasingly intensive dialogues with countries of origin and
             transit).
             An analysis of the extent to which Member States feel constrained in
             their international actions would help the examination of this question.
             Examples of past external actions by the Member States would be needed
             to support any conceptual arguments about the extent to which Member
             States have been able to pursue common objectives and adopted a unified
             approach vis-à-vis non-EU countries. Ultimately, any answer would also
             need to discuss whether the Lisbon Treaty changes are likely to change
             this overall assessment and allow the EU to become a more effective
             foreign policy actor.

    Question 7
        ‘Regional policy is a necessary component of the Single Market’. Discuss.
             Reading for this question
             The question refers to the writing of Leonardi (1993) and Keating (1995)
             which are referred in Chapter 7 of the subject guide. Particularly useful
             discussions on this question can also be found in Chapter 9 of Wallace,
             Wallace and Pollack (2005) and Chapter 9 of Hix (2005).
             Approaching the question
             An answer to this question requires candidates to analyse the evolution
             of EU regional policy initiatives such as the Structural Funds and the
             Cohesion Fund. A discussion of the motivation behind these initiatives will
             be an essential element of a good answer. Concepts such as ‘side-payment
             logic’ versus ‘regional development logic’ can be usefully discussed
             in answering this question, as can specific regional policy principles
             developed in the EU context such as ‘partnership’, ‘concentration’,
             ‘programming’ and ‘additionality’.
             Essentially the task is to assess whether such European regional policy
             initiatives have been developed as side payments to buy support for
             further integration (which can be viewed at least in part as pursuing a
             political motivation) or whether their rationale have been largely rooted
             in a regional development logic (driven by a more economic rationale),
             aimed to promoted growth in economically backward regions.

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                                                                                 Examiners’ commentaries 2010


      A good answer will analyse the evolution and impact of EU regional policy
      instruments as they have been developed over the past 30 years, from the
      establishment of the European Regional Development Fund in the 1970s
      until the recent reforms of the Structural Funds. It will also include the
      analysis of competing economic theories which differ in their expectations
      about the impact of market integration efforts (such as the Single Market
      Programme) on peripheral regions in the EU.

Question 8
   ‘The Common Agricultural Policy will never be abolished’. Discuss.
      Reading for this question
      This question relates in particular to Chapter 7 of Wallace, Wallace and
      Pollack (2005) and Chapter 9 in Hix (2005). A more general introduction
      to evolution and working of the Common Agricultural Policy can also be
      found in Chapter 12 of Dinan (2005) listed under the Further reading
      section.
      Approaching the question
      A good approach to this question would be to start by identifying the
      original objectives that the Member States pursued with the development
      of the Common Agricultural Policy. While the official objectives of the
      Common Agricultural Policy are prominently stated in the Treaties
      and have remained basically unchanged since the Treaty of Rome, a
      sophisticated answer might also try to identify more informal objectives
      that individual Member States have pursued in their support of this policy.
      Here reference to the implications of contributions from the Common
      Agricultural Policy for the net-budgetary position of Member States could
      be usefully made.
      In distinguishing between objectives that are officially stated and those
      which are not, a good answer to the question would be able to assess the
      extent to which the Common Agricultural Policy has been effective.
      A good answer could also include an analysis of the reasons behind the
      difficulties of reforming this Policy. Here you could usefully distinguish
      between internal and external driving forces for reform. Concepts such
      as the ‘iron triangle’ and the power of ‘concentrated interests’ (Olson,
      1965) can be usefully employed to assess the likelihood of the Common
      Agricultural Policy being abolished at some point in the future.

Question 9
   Assess the political costs and benefits of economic and monetary union. Use
   country examples.
      Reading for this question
      This question essentially refers to the political debates surrounding the
      operation of the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU). Particularly useful
      summary discussions of the EMU can be found in Chapter 6 of Wallace,
      Wallace and Pollack (2005) and Chapter 10 of Hix (2005), referred to in
      Chapter 9 of the subject guide.
      Approaching the question
      This question asks candidates to identify the political calculations of
      Member States when dealing with the establishment and operation of
      Economic and Monetary Union. A good answer would compare and
      contrast the motivation of countries such as Italy and France with those of
      Germany at the time of the adoption of the EMU. It would also examine
      the motivations of countries such as the UK, which chose not to join
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88 Politics and policies of the European Union


             the Single Currency, with regard to the political cost/benefit calculation
             surrounding the operation of EMU.
             An analysis of Member States’ attitudes towards the operation and reform
             of the Stability and Growth Pact would be essential for a good answer.
             A more sophisticated answer could include a discussion of the political
             calculations made by countries such as Iceland or Greece during the
             recent financial crisis.

    Question 10
        ‘The European Single Market is primarily a deregulatory project.’ Discuss.
             Reading for this question
             This question relates to Chapter 6 of the subject guide. Particularly useful
             readings on this question can be found in Chapters 4 and 5 of Wallace,
             Wallace and Pollack (2005) and in Chapter 8 of Hix (2005).
             Approaching the question
             This question requires you to think about processes of Europeanisation,
             both in terms of the transfer of national regulatory powers to the
             European Union and the domestic adaption of national institutions to
             European law in order to assess whether the Single Market project has
             been more ‘de-regulatory’ or ‘re-regulatory’ in character.
             A good answer would examine these issues by comparing and contrasting
             the key policy areas within the Single Market. It would identify regulatory
             variations across different policy fields such as competition policy,
             environmental policy and social policy. To achieve a high grade, the key
             areas of EU competition policy such as anti-trust policy, merger policy and
             state aid policy would have to be assessed in some detail.
             A discussion of the regulatory impact of the EU (both inside and outside
             the EU) would be a necessary part of a good answer to this question. In
             this context, the idea of the EU as a ‘global regulator standard setter’ could
             be usefully explored.
             To achieve the highest marks on this question, you would also need to
             address the question of why regulatory policy-making is the preferred
             governance mode in the European Union and why other types of policy-
             making (e.g. redistributive policy) play a much more marginal role in the
             overall operation of Single Market.

    Question 11
        Why has the EU been more able to adopt common policies on asylum issues than
        on labour migration?
             Reading for this question
             This question refers to elements of Justice and Home Affairs policy in the
             European Union, which is discussed in Chapter 10 of the subject guide.
             Among the most useful readings for this question are Hix (2005, Chapter
             11), Wallace, Wallace and Pollack (2005, Chapter 18) and Stetter (2000).
             Approaching the question
             This question asks about steps that have been taken by the Member States
             to transfer authority on asylum and labour migration policy to the EU
             level. A good way to approach this question would be to start by looking
             into the motivation for policy harmonisation in these areas (Stetter, 2000)
             before tracing the principal steps of the evolving attempts to coordinate
             policy responses at the EU level. This analysis would cover the period
             of the 1980s (when cooperation started with the TREVI meetings) until
             today (with the adoption of the Lisbon Treaty).
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                                                                                    Examiners’ commentaries 2010


      With regard to asylum, a good answer would highlight the key
      motivations for EU asylum policy harmonisation: to achieve a more
      equitable distribution of efforts among the Member States’ attempts and
      to prevent ‘asylum shopping’ in a Europe without internal borders. A good
      answer would also identify the obstacles that hindered similar levels of
      policy harmonisation in the field of labour migration policy, in particular
      the persistent differences in Member States’ domestic labour markets.
      An excellent answer would link this comparison with the evolution of
      governance structures in these two areas of Justice and Home Affairs
      policy.

Question 12
   ‘The claim that the EU is a successful “soft power” actor in the international
   arena is unfounded.’ Discuss.
      Reading for this question
      This question relates to writings of Menon (2004) and Young (2004)
      which are referred to in Chapters 11 and 12 of the subject guide.
      Particularly useful sections for this question can also be found in Chapters
      15 and 17 of Wallace, Wallace and Pollack (2005).
      Approaching the question
      This question asks candidates to assess the role of EU as a foreign policy
      actor in the international arena. A discussion of the various aspects of
      EU external relations activities could be a useful starting point when
      answering this question. This would include a discussion of the EU’s
      Common Commercial/Trade Policy as well as Member States’ efforts to
      move towards a Common Foreign Security Policy.
      A more sophisticated answer might also include new areas of EU external
      action which have been developed in areas of environmental policy (e.g.
      negotiations on the Kyoto Protocol) or migration policy (where the EU is
      engaged in increasingly intensive dialogues with countries of origin and
      transit).
      An analysis of the extent to which Member States feel constrained in
      their international actions would usually form part of any good attempt
      to answer this question. Examples of past external actions by the Member
      States would be needed to support any conceptual arguments about the
      extent to which Member States have been pursuing common objectives
      and adopted a unified approach vis-à-vis non-EU countries.
      Candidates are expected to provide definitions that clarify the distinction
      between ‘soft power’ and ‘hard power’ in foreign policy. On the basis of
      that distinction, a good answer would scrutinise the various aspects of
      the EU’s external activities to form a judgment as to the EU’s effectiveness
      when trying to project non-military power in the international arena.




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