The Coordination of the European Union: Exploring the Capacities of Networked Governance

The Coordination of the European Union: Exploring the Capacities of Networked Governance

The Coordination of the European Union: Exploring the Capacities of Networked Governance

The Coordination of the European Union: Exploring the Capacities of Networked Governance

Synopsis

As the traditional mode of coordinating--essentially issuing regulation--no longer commands sufficient political support, the EU has turned to what are increasingly termed soft or 'new' modes of governance, which rely upon different actors working together in relatively non-hierarchical networks. This analysis provides the first book-length account of how effective network-based modes are at addressing problems that simultaneously demand greater levels of horizontal and vertical coordination.

Excerpt

The central puzzle addressed by this book is how should the European Union (EU) manage horizontal policy objectives like cross-border terrorism, drug crime, and environmental pollution when it is simultaneously divided into different administrative levels and competing policy sectors? For us, this puzzle first surfaced in relation to the ambitious Treaty-based commitment to integrate environmental thinking into the development and implementation of policy in all sectors—a very testing policy challenge commonly know as environmental policy integration (EPI). But in the course of writing this book, we have been struck by how many similar horizontal objectives and policy integration principles exist for other areas of the EU’s work. These include, to name just a few, development cooperation with industrializing countries, better law-making, subsidiarity, deregulation, sustainability, gender equality, and social and also cohesion policy.

Evidently, ‘better coordination’ is something that many different parts of the EU aspire to achieve. But how can it be achieved when the EU’s popular legitimacy is at an all-time low, its hierarchical steering capacity is increasingly being questioned, and (particularly after the 2004 EU enlargement) its member states are more, not less, diversified? Significantly, these problems and the governance challenges they provoke were aired in, but not resolved by, the European Commission’s 2001 White Paper on governance.

In this book, we take EPI as a case study of how the EU is responding to these governance-related challenges. It is a good challenge to take as it covers a thirty-year period, many actors, and, like many other crosscutting policy objectives, several levels of governance. Heads of state have pledged to achieve EPI on very many occasions, so at least on paper, adequate high-level political commitment is not an immediate problem. What we want to explore in this book is whether or not the EU has the administrative and institutional capacity needed to put this political commitment to EPI into effect.

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