University of Lisbon, Portugal, 1-4 September 2019
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Panel 812: Reassessing the Eurozone Crisis
The Power of Expertise: Assessing the Influence of Technocrats in Intergovernmental Euro Crisis Negotiations
1University of Basel; 2University of Groningen
That the European Union (and especially the Eurozone) is a “technocratic” regime—namely a system dominated by unelected experts at the expenses of democratic processes—is by now an established narrative. The narrative has gained force during the euro crisis, the responses to which—both policy and institutional—are often depicted, above all by populists, as entailing the usurpation of member states’ power and autonomy on the part of rule-obsessed Brussels technocrats.
Yet to a large extent the idea of a technocratic EU remains as elusive and contested as it is widespread. Partly, this is due to the sequential manner in which the technocratic level connects to the political one within policy-making processes. Usually, technocrats are either implementers of decisions made, formally speaking, by politicians, or advisers to the latter. In both cases, the relationship between the two spheres makes it difficult to draw the line between them—put differently, to discern where political influence ends and technocratic one begins.
An exception to the foregoing setup are bargaining situations between technocratic and political actors, in which the encounter between the two is equal and simultaneous, thus allowing a clearer detection of technocratic influence vis-à-vis politicians by examining bargaining processes and especially outcomes.
Building on these premises, this paper tests the “EU-as-technocracy” hypothesis by assessing the performance of supranational technocratic bodies in intergovernmental negotiations during the euro crisis. By using original data from the “EMU Choices” project, we conduct statistical analyses to gauge the influence of both the European Central Bank (a fully technocratic body) and the European Commission (a semi-technocratic body) on the outcome of 47 negotiations with member states. Our analyses show that while the Commission’s negotiating position is significantly correlated with final bargaining outcomes, a similar correlation does not exist for the ECB.
That the ECB—one the most powerful EU institutions—does not seem to have much power in intergovernmental negotiations contradicts the widespread depiction of the EU/Eurozone as a technocratic regime. Moreover, our results suggest that the influence carried by the Commission is due less to its technocratic aspects than with its political role, and more precisely its ability to set the negotiating agenda and/or to accommodate the prevailing position of member states.
The paper sheds new light not only on the EU’s crisis policies, but also on the more general dynamics governing intergovernmental negotiations, and the relationships between technocracy and politics within the Union.
The Power of Expert Knowledge in the Eurozone Crisis
University of Helsinki, Finland
This paper presents an analysis on which knowledge producers the EU decision-makers listened the most in the decision-making during the European debt and banking crisis, especially in 2010. How and whose analysis was used and processed in the interaction between interest groups, lobbyists, experts and decision-makers?
The crisis could have been a time to re-evaluate the dominant neoliberal paradigm. However, despite the initial stimulus reactions, the European decision-makers chose to return to austerity in the spring of 2010 when adopting the First Economic Adjustment Programme for Greece, the European Financial Stability Facility and Mechanism. Since this pivotal turning point has not been researched thoroughly from the angle of consultancy and lobbying, I will demonstrate to which actors the EU decision-makers from Brussels, Germany and Finland listened the most when choosing austerity.
I conducted a social network analysis of experts heard in the Finnish and German parliamentary committees and analysed the content of their input. The experts did not criticise austerity and suggest paradigm changes, but instead suggested to tighten the Eurozone rules. It seems that the spring 2010 decisions were made in hurry and without exhaustive reviews of data. I also gathered data on the role of expert analysis through interviews in Finland, Germany and Brussels.
This research brings new information and contributes to the theory on 1) the power of knowledge in decision-making and in crisis situations, 2) the functioning of the consultocracy and 3) the power relations behind austerity.
Institutional Bargaining Success during the European Sovereign Debt Crisis
University of Leicester, UK
ABSTRACT The aim of this paper is to describe and explain the bargaining success of the Council of Ministers, the European Central Bank, the European Commission and the European Parliament during the negotiations on the report of the European Council’s Task Force on economic governance and on the legislative package known as the Six-Pack. Bargaining success is measured by proximity of the actor's policy preferences to the decision outcome on the most salient issues in the negotiations. Expectations of the bargaining success of the institutions are developed from studies on factors that increase the chances of success in the negotiations. The analyses is based on a dataset on the negotiations of the Task Force and the Six-Pack that took place in 2010 and 2011. The findings support the contention that the Council of Ministers had the highest level of bargaining success among the four institutions. Conversely, the European Central Bank, the European Commission and the European Parliament were less successful in shaping the outcome of the Task Force report and the Six-Pack.
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