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'Punching above its weight? A case study of Luxembourg's policy effectiveness in the European Union'

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posted on 2023-06-07, 15:52 authored by Martine Huberty
This thesis deals with member states' policy effectiveness in the European Union, using Luxembourg's capacity to get what it wanted in three crucial areas as a case study. Policy effectiveness is defined as the successful exercise of a member state's ability to include most of its policy preferences into the final legislation. The factors considered to influence policy effectiveness include the negotiation context, more specifically the decision-making procedure and time pressure. The distribution and intensity of other member states and holding the Presidency are also expected to play a role. Furthermore, individual-level factors such as experience, past relations or belonging to the same political family are rarely systematically included in research, but these are also included. Finally domestic politics, such as the approval procedure and institutional coordination are considered. The decision making process, especially within the Council, is still a black box to most scholars - a challenge which in this research is met by elite interviews with the negotiators involved, by process tracing and by document analysis. I empirically assess three cases where Luxembourg is reputed to have been policy effective: the creation of the Stability and Growth Pact (SGP) in 1996, the reform of the same in 2005, and the payment of unemployment benefits to frontier workers (EC Regulation 883/2004). In terms of Luxembourg's policy effectiveness, I find the following: 1) that Luxembourg was highly policy effective in the creation of the SGP, due to Jean- Claude Juncker's double hat of Finance Minister and Prime Minister, as well as his expertise and his personal relations with other Heads of State. 2) In the reform of the SGP, that Luxembourg was not policy effective despite holding the Presidency; Juncker was President of the Eurogroup and still had that same double hat. The widely distributed and intense preferences of France and Germany combined to produce an agreement which Luxembourg did not favour, but had nevertheless helped to produce. 3) Finally, that, in Regulation 883/2004, Luxembourg was medium policy effective because of domestic constraints, a low distribution and intensity of preferences of the other member states and because of unanimity. All of my case studies show evidence of two developments in terms of decision-making processes: the shift of decision-making from public to informal arenas, and the involvement of the European Council in areas which are not formally within its competence. Indeed, the compromises found were proposed in the Council of Ministers after several key member states had seen and agreed to them beforehand. Incidentally, the evidence also indicates that the European Parliament did not influence the legislative outcome at all in these cases. These results suggest several practical guidelines for member states.


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