Thursday, August 8, 2013

Reflective/Retrospective Post

Sorry for the delay, I've been pretty busy and all over the place lately.

My overall impression of my Brussels experience was positive (despite the horrendous weather for five of the six weeks). I really liked that we had three day weekends, it gave me many opportunities to travel. Jerry's lectures were really great, and he was nice enough to give Cassandra, Emily and myself a private tour of the Battle of the Bulge, and he even drove us the hour it took to get there and back for free!

Although I like that the policy posts on the blog were all conducted over one weekend in one cluster, I thought it would have been easier to complete all the readings a week or two later, since we were still getting situated and had just completed a breathtaking week of travel, internship interviews, and internship orientations.

As for the homestay experience, it was O.K. From talking to the other 9 students, I would rank my family as somewhere in the middle. Some families made their student lunch and dinner every day, while others were forgotten about or had to listen to family fights at 4 AM every morning. My family was not particularly warm, but they were polite for the most part. They did forget my dinner one night, but I also received one extra dinner several weeks later, so I suppose this balances out.

With respect to my internship, again my feelings are mixed. I was frustrated that somehow I was the only grad student to not receive an interview with a member of parliament, while others who weren't even considering parliament received one or even two interviews there (though I'm happy for those that did wind up in parliament, and I know they did a really great job!). Also, the majority of the interviews I received were not fields I was interested in: I was hoping for something more directly related to the EU government. Though having completed this course, I now know how uncommon it probably is for EU internships to be granted to Americans. I think it would be helpful to tell incoming law students about the internships previous law students had received, to help them decide if they want to participate in the program.

With regard to my particular internship, I really like the work Social Platform is doing, and I was able to work briefly on a few important projects. I also thought the staff was very warm and friendly, and I do think this was a worthwhile work experience. However, the Platform seemed a little unprepared for how short the internship was (this was their first 6 week summer intern experience). The first week was nearly a waste, since they were in the middle of several important meetings, and no one had time to set me up on any projects or show me much, so I spent most of that time sitting in on the meetings. Also, on slower days I was doing mundane tasks such as making copies and setting up tables for meetings. Though I didn't mind doing this kind of work as an undergrad, I'm now looking for more substantial work as a second year graduate/law student, particularly since I've paid for the flight and course and in time to be there and was working for free. I think it would be helpful in the future to stress to the employers before the student arrives that there are differences in expectations between an undergraduate and a graduate internship. Still, my overall impression of Social Platform was positive, and I did get to do some work on substantial projects, such as my financial inclusion analysis grid. If they were more prepared for the short timespan, I think this would solve many of the problems.

Thank you for a great course and a great trip! This blog has been my favorite online classroom experience to date!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Reminder: Internship Portfolios

Greetings all,

I hope that everything is going well as you enter the final week of your internships.  It is amazing how time flies! 

I just wanted to send along a quick reminder about the Internship Portfolio assignment.  As you wrap up your time in Brussels, it is an excellent time to take stock of the materials that you have collected or produced that could be included in the portfolio.  In general, your portfolio should be well-organized (a binder with sections & a table of contents) and should provide some commentary or description of the materials included.  Beyond that, the key details are provided in the assignment description on the course syllabus, so please make sure to review the information in the syllabus.  As always, please don't hesitate to let me know if you have any questions. 

I look forward to seeing your portfolios and reading about your work and experiences in Brussels!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Organizational Assessment: Social Platform

Social Platform is a "Platform" or collection of more than 40 NGOs working together on social issues of common concern. I have now worked here for several weeks, and had the opportunity to observe the massive amount of coordination and organization that goes into something of this large size and diverse breadth of interests. My work here has varied quite a bit. It has included assisting with the transition to a newer website, researching and providing information on how the Platform can better use social media, English corrections on newsletters that are sent out to members, and analyzing Commission proposals and already existing directives while summarizing their relevance for discussion during steering group meetings (discussed below). Additionally, I have attended a Parliament meeting on a topic of interest to the Platform, financial inclusion, and written an article on it that was later published and sent to all the members as a part of a weekly news update.

To provide a more clear overview on what Social Platform really is, it helps to first describe what its members do, as NGOs. NGO members are groups dedicated to raising awareness over some specific issue of political policy within the EU. They represent a wide variety of issues, from immigrant assimilation, to elderly discrimination, to disability awareness. Unlike charities, they do not seek to assist their target groups of people by gaining and distributing financial donations. Rather, they are closer to political lobbyists, seeking to influence emerging legislation, or change existing policies to benefit their people. An important distinction from lobbyists however is that NGOs generally seek to monitor and protect particular classes of (traditionally underprivileged) people, whereas lobbyists are usually seeking only to influence legislation to the benefit of the business that hired them.

Social Platform's internal organization seeks to balance efficiency and clarity with diverse voices and interests. Only seven people work within the organizational office. They work constantly to communicate between members (NGOs) and garner support for whatever issue gradually emerges. This office (where I work) holds quarterly meetings with various "working groups" who meet to discuss issues that hold particular relevance to them. At these meetings, details about proposals to the Commission, Parliament and even the Council are hammered out, and decided on. Additional, new ideas are either proposed by the organizational office to members here, or by members themselves. Once this meeting is completed there will be an even less frequent "Steering Group" meeting, which consists of all 46 NGOs within social platform. Here, a vote is held on what to keep and what to remove from proposals, and a simple majority determines what will actually make it into the requests or proposals sent to the EU.  These members all recognize the power of large numbers when seeking to influence the EU, and so hope to gain influence and insight from working together on issues of common concern.

The main categories of policy that that Social Platform deals with are financial inclusion, equality and anti-discrimination, integration of migrants, fundamental rights, corporate social responsibility, services of general interest (public services), and of course whatever else may emerge. Some members have a stronger interest in particular fields over others (almost by definition, since they seek to protect a narrower group of people), and so they will voice their opinions at working group meetings more on issues that relate to them directly in a broad proposal. Currently, many members are pushing hard just to prevent money-saving cuts to social service funding during the ongoing financial crisis.

Finally, because the EU values the input of the NGOs that Social Platform represents,  the Commission actually provides the majority of the Platform's funding. Occasionally the Commission will request Social Platform's opinion on a particular proposed directive or regulation, and take it into consideration while assessing how legislation may impact underprivileged groups. The Platform requests funding from the Commission yearly, and income is further supplemented through donations and even renting out a large meeting room in the main office to NGOs for conferences.

European Parliament-Organizational Assessment

Working under MEP Peter Stastny at the European Parliament, his office mainly focuses on International Trade; specifically, my work thus far has consisted of economic partnership agreements (EPA) with ACP (African, Caribbean, and Pacific) countries and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership negotiations. The constraints of the organization can be divided into two general categories: the parliamentary level and the MEP level. The latter level is a small office with four people trying to do everything which can lead to mild chaos at times; there are numerous conferences and events to keep track of and to ensure that the MEP must be prepared for that it is easy to get confused if one is disorganized.

On the European Parliament level, the main struggle is trying to convince everyone that the MEP’s views are valid enough that the majority will vote according to those views. Mr. Stastny is a member of the Christian Democrats and so far has been in agreement with the majority of the Parliament on the matters of international trade. These past two weeks I have been working on speeches for the ACP conference that Mr. Stastny will be attending and during my research I found with the EPA that it is particularly difficult for this policy to be implemented due to the instability in certain ACP countries that Mr. Stastny focuses on: Mali, Central African Republic, and Guinea. The EPA proposes that it will aid in development for these countries by opening the European market up to them but without domestic security in place the EPA will not work for these countries at the moment; the security issues are definitely a constraint on allowing this policy to see fruition.  In this case, it is up to the Parliament and the Commission to decide if they are to involve themselves in the security matters of these countries. More discussions are occurring this week about security in these countries and hopefully I will be to see how this will impact future negotiations for an EPA in ACP countries.

There is an addition level to policy making in the European Parliament which is the state level but so far that has not had much of an impact in my office. However, after hearing a few speeches at different meetings I see that the state has an important role in policy making just as the institutions that make up the European Union.

Organizational Assessment: European Parliament

My internship is at the European Parliament, which covers a variety of policy areas. However, my MEP is a member of the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection, so much of the work that my member and her assistants have been working on, focus on the issues related to this committee.

There are many organizational constraints and organizational procedures that apply when working within the European Parliament and addressing issues such as the internal market. First, there are legal restrictions. As a member of the European Parliament, my member and her office must follow legislative procedures in order to accomplish something. There are also bureaucratic structures that create constraints on what Mrs. Roithova and the European Parliament would like to accomplish. Specifically, Mrs. Roithova has been the rapporteur for updating eight product safety directives to bring them in line with the Lisbon Treaty. As a result, she has been working with the European Commission and European Council to negotiate a legislative package that would be accepted by all three bodies. This process has taken over 18 months and has been difficult at times, particularly in getting all three bodies to agree on delegating and implementing acts. In order for a directive, or in this case a set of directives, the Parliament, Council, and Commission, all have to agree. From what I’ve witnessed within the technical meetings and trialogue concerning these eight product safety directives, this is not an easy task.

Not only are there certain legal restrictions in place but political/party structures can also create organizational constraints. My member of parliament is part of the EPP Group, a political party within the European Parliament. The EPP Group has working group meetings to discuss what reports/directives/legislation they will support as well as what they will not support. The EPP Group plays a role in what Mrs. Roithova can do and support as a member of the EPP Group and as a member of the European Parliament, especially in terms of policies concerning the internal market and consumer protection. Mrs. Roithova and her office are also constrained by the state in which she represents. As a MEP from the Czech Republic, Mrs. Roithova is a represented of her country and is accountable to the people there through elections; yet, she is expected to promote the ideals of the European Union. This can be a tough balance and can create constraints on how far she might support certain reports and initiatives concerning the internal market and consumer protection that are good for the European Union as a whole, but may have negative consequences for her own country.

The European Parliament’s organizational culture is best understood within the context of what the Parliament is a part of as well as the people in which it represents. As a result, the European Parliament is an organization focused on creating and meeting the ideals set out in all previous treaties, now including the Lisbon Treaty. This means focusing on creating one market within Europe. However, the Parliament also represents the cultural diversity of the European Community and, as a result, the Parliament must address those differences in order to be successful. The most obvious example of these differences is language, which has been addressed. For example, in committee meetings, where there are 23 translators sitting in booths around the room, translating what is being said. This is perhaps the easiest issue to address concerning organizational culture. Other problems that may arise is lack of unity and disagreement on what should be done or supported within the European Parliament, or the process in which to accomplish something.

Organizational Assessment: Atlantic Treaty Association

I have been interning with the Atlantic Treaty Association. The ATA is an NGO that works closely with NATO to promote the common values and ideals of the Alliance through individual national chapters in over 30 countries. The ATA in Brussels is the General Secretariat of the organization and therefore serves to promote and support its national chapters in a variety of ways. The secretariat helps the chapters in promoting their events and often suggesting projects they may be interested in completing. The office also serves as the main liaison between the chapters and NATO headquarters. A very large component of the ATA mission is to support and foster the youth community interested in international security and defense. The Youth Atlantic Treaty Association (YATA) works very closely with ATA.

ATA publishes a monthly newsletter, Atlantic Voices, featuring articles by young academics, professionals, and researchers on current topics in security and defense. I have been lucky enough to help edit and publish the May and June editions of Atlantic Voices and am currently working on a piece that I hope will make it into the July edition, the subject of which is Russia/NATO relations.

With respect to any organizational hiccups ATA encounters, all that I've observed seem relatively minor (i.e. we can’t call Portugal or Spain before 2pm, because no one is in the office) with one exception: some of the chapters in Eastern Europe and the Caucuses have a lot of trouble working to promote NATO ideals because they receive a lot of pressure from their government to do otherwise. Specifically, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s new “foreign agent” legislation makes daily operations of the Russian ATA chapter extremely difficult.

Given that it has virtually no interaction or association with the European Union, the closest the ATA gets to European policy is NATO policy. Although, it is hard to consider the two close at all, as the European (and most other non-US) perspective is that NATO is simply a US strong-arm in Europe.

Organizational Assessment Blog Post

Organizational Assessment Blog Post

The organization I am interning with is called Security Europe.  Security Europe publishes monthly publications on civil security developments in the EU and can also provide clients with specified “trackers” – newsletters on a specific topic i.e. cyber security.   The main policy areas Security Europe deals with are security and defense in the European Union.

As an intern, I have had quite a range of tasks.   The principle role I’ve had so far is attending events and taking notes.  I’ve attended events at the European Parliament, the European Defense Agency, and a few speeches by politicians or security experts.  In addition to attending events, I have had to read final reports written for the EU Directorate of General Enterprise and Industry and then summarize them into more concise stories that will be published online and in print.  Recently, I helped to look at and reorganize Security Europe’s website and have also been asked to do research into how to use social media to promote the organization.

From what I have seen, Security Europe does not have too many organizational constraints despite only essentially having two full-time employees, two part time workers, and two interns.  But beyond best-case scenarios with a fleet of reporters and perfect technical operations, I’m not sure what could really be done in terms of the organization to make it function more efficiently.  “Security” is a broad policy to analyze, but it seems to me that it is specialized enough to allow for the employees to go to most if not all relevant events and report on the proceedings.  With the right connections, which my boss appears to have, there are not too many constraints when it comes to getting access to relevant information.

In terms of connecting to the larger landscape of European policy and politics, at the end of the day, Security Europe is essentially a newsletter that seeks to inform rather than dictate or overtly influence policy.  However, I think there are 13,000 subscribers to the newsletter, so in that sense one might argue that Security Europe’s interpretation of ongoing events could have some ramifications in terms of informing people.  That said, it’s hard to measure the influence of an organization like Security Europe but I do think (from what I have seen) that it has been effective in gaining followers and reporting on notable civil security developments.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Moving Forward on the EU Policy Analysis Paper

I've enjoyed reading about your proposed topics for the EU Policy Analysis Paper, and I've also placed some comments/questions on each of your initial posts.  Be sure to check back to your posts to read and respond to the comments/questions that I and others have posted there, as this feedback is important to consider as you refine your topic and continue your background research.  In addition to the feedback that I provided on each of your posts, I also wanted to post a few general pieces of advice here to help you with the process of refining your topic and developing your policy analysis:
  • Be specific in defining the policy problem or issue that will be the object of your analysis.  Remember that the goal of a policy analysis is to develop a very specific account of either how a particular policy came about in the way that it did (historical policy analysis) or to provide prescriptive recommendations for a current policy problem (prescriptive policy analysis).  Both require you to clearly specify the policy/problem at stake.  In other words, a policy analysis paper does not "look at" a general issue, but rather analyzes a specific and well defined policy/problem.
  • Remember to research and use the academic literature (theory!) on your general topic area (e.g. if I am studying EU intervention in Syria, then the general academic literature on interventions or on EU foreign policy will certainly be relevant).  There may not be a great deal of academic literature on your specific policy problem, especially if it is a current or recent issue, but this does not mean the academic literature has nothing to offer for your analysis.  In fact, it is all the more important to research and apply the theoretical and systematic understandings of similar problems when researching a current issue simply because specific information on your issue is likely to be limited and/or unreliable.  Irrespective of whether you are conducting a historical or a prescriptive policy analysis, part of your task is to research and then apply the relevant theoretical understandings of your policy problem in order to develop a more systematic analysis (remember, a policy analysis is not a report or a current events paper!).
  • Follow steps of policy analysis discussed in the readings!  Both the policy analysis handout and the chapter from Patton & Sawicki provide specific advice in terms of the types of information you need to collect for a good policy analysis as well as the specific steps to follow in developing that analysis.  It will be essential to follow these steps as you conduct your analysis, which means paying attention to these steps now as you conduct your background research.

  • Don't wait until returning to the states to conduct your research.  You have the unique chance to collect primary and secondary source materials while in Brussels -- materials that you may not be able to access once you return to the U.S. -- so make sure to make the most of this opportunity.
I hope these tips are helpful.  Please don't hesitate to contact me as

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Organizational Assessment Blog Post

Greetings all!

Our next task will be to "zoom back in" to the work that we are doing in order to reflect on and discuss this work and the larger mission of your respective internship organizations.  The instructions for the Organizational Assessment Blog Post are posted below (and are also posted to Blackboard).  I look forward to reading about and discussing your experiences so far!


This exercise offers you the chance to reflect on the work that you are doing, how that work fits into the broader scope of activities for your organization, and how concrete institutional and organizational features of your organization and of the broader European policy space impact your organization's work. 

In your post, you should identify the main areas of policy that your organization addresses, and reflect on how organizational constraints (e.g. budgets, legal restrictions, bureaucratic structures, etc.), organizational procedures, and organizational culture affect your organization's policies and its ability to perform its stated tasks and goals.  Your post should discuss the specific work that your organization does as well as identify how that work connects to the larger landscape of European policy and politics.  In doing so, your post should assess what your organization does and how various aspects of its structure, culture, and procedures impact or influence the organization's ability to accomplish it's mission.

Your original post of approximately 250-500 words should be posted to the SIS Brussels Blog by the end of the day (11:59 p.m. CET) on Monday, June 17.  After you have submitted your own original post, you should provide comments/questions on the original post of at least one other individual.  Be sure to then check back and respond to the questions/comments that you receive!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Financial Inclusion; Access to Financial Services

Potential Topic: Financial Inclusion; Access to Financial Services

For my final paper, I would like to write about the pervasive issue of financial inclusion within the EU. Working at Social Platform, a platform of dozens of NGO's that are mainly service providers, I have now done quite a bit of research into this growing issue. A number of these NGO's focus specifically on ensuring access to basic financial services to underprivileged groups in order to combat the growing issue of financial exclusion. Presently, 30 million Europeans do not have access to a basic bank account (about 10 percent of Europe). Half of that number want access but are unable to obtain it due to constraints such as disability, complex banking protocols, and regional access issues. This problem has been of increasing importance in recent years, as physical cash transactions decline and increasingly a basic bank account becomes essential to obtaining a mortgage or loan, deposit work payments, make payments online, and to pay basic bills.

Recently, the EU passed legislation that seeks to ensure that every member state guarantees that at least one banking company within its borders will provide a free basic bank account. However, the legislation is currently under criticism by some groups (many within Social Platform) for lacking 'teeth' and for failing to apply the right to a bank account to individual citizens (not every citizen has real access to the provided account if, for example, they live in a location far away from a branch of the designated bank providing the free basic account), among other problems.

Specifically, I would like to do a prescriptive policy analysis paper that examines the issues, goals, and policy options, etc. behind universal access to basic financial services, such as a bank account, within the EU. I think this would be a good opportunity to talk about an important issue that rests, in part, on the level of authority given to the EU over member states to pass this kind of legislation.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Policy Analysis Proposal: EU Arms to Syria

In working with the Atlantic Treaty Association, I do not work with the European Union in any direct capacity, however I have been following the current international crisis posed by the Syrian civil war very closely. By watching the news and discussing the conflict with coworkers and my host family, I’ve been gaining a deeper understanding of the European position toward western intervention in this conflict.

Recently, the EU decided to allow, with limitations, member states to supply arms to Syrian rebel armies. This is a huge step in both the Syrian conflict and in EU policy. Most interestingly, it speaks to the relationship of EU versus member state power with regard to international security. Given this, I would like to take a deeper look into where this decision came from and how it came about.  What I find most interesting about this subject is that all players involved, whether it’s the France, Britain, EU or Russia, all actors seem to be motivated first and foremost by political potentials. I, personally, find this extremely disappointing and would like to possibly present an alternative to this “political” policy choice that may be more effective in terms of global security.

When given the opportunity, I would like to present a mix of both historical and prescriptive policy analysis as I feel that this topic is current enough that any prescription would require adequate background analysis to be fully informed.

EU Policy Analysis Proposal: Asylum Policy

            Within the general policy field of immigration, the specific policy issue that I would like to analyze is asylum. Asylum is a policy issue within Europe that needs to be addressed further by the European Union. In 2012, there were about 330,000 asylum applicants that were registered in countries within the European Union.[1] Events such as the conflict in Syria or the Arab Spring, creates a major challenge for countries and overstretches their asylum capacities. Those seeking asylum particularly burden member countries that border non-EU member countries. The inconsistency within the European Union is not only burdensome for the member countries but makes the process difficult for those seeking asylum.

At the moment, there is no common asylum policy despite the fact that many European leaders have called on the European Union to develop policies on immigration and asylum so that the process for immigrants and asylum seekers to obtain entry into all European Union member states are harmonized. The European Pact on Immigration and Asylum is really the only significant piece of legislation passed by the European Union on asylum, and it does nothing to accomplish the task. However, a new asylum policy is in the works within the European Union and the Parliament will debate on the new rules already agreed upon by the national governments and Parliament on June 11, with the expectation of approval on June 12.[2] These new rules are intended to harmonize the procedures and basic rights across all countries.

My policy analysis will define the current policy problem of asylum and will evaluate policy options for addressing the issue of harmonizing asylum policy within the EU against certain criteria. This type of analysis will be prescriptive.

Reference for Topic:

Pirjola, Jari. "European Asylum Policy – Inclusions and Exclusions under the Surface of Universal Human Rights Language." European Journal Of Migration & Law 11, no. 4 (October 2009): 347-366. Academic Search Premier, EBSCOhost (accessed June 10, 2013).

[1] "Common European Asylum System: What's at Stake?" European Parliament. N.p., 7 June 2013. Web. 10 June 2013.
[2] "Common European Asylum System: What's at Stake?" European Parliament. N.p., 7 June 2013. Web. 10 June 2013.

Policy Analysis Proposal: EU Enlargment Policy

For my policy paper I want to discuss a particular section of the EU’s membership criteria of the it’s enlargement policy: “stable institutions guaranteeing democracy, the rule of law, human rights and respect for and protection of minorities.” I want to analyze this policy against the backdrop of the Cyprus accession into the EU on May1, 2004.  An ethnically divided island between the Greek and Turkish peoples, Cyprus has been one of the longest running conflicts that have been unsuccessfully mediated and negotiated; Cyprus’s accession without unification was made possible and the island became a full member state in the EU but only represented by the Greek Cypriots.

Looking at this specific policy, the puzzle it seems is that there does not appear to be a clear definition of certain terms in this policy which has allowed for controversial enlargement such as Cyprus. This policy is a condition to which countries, mainly those under previous Soviet control, must adhere to if they wish to seek membership into the EU; however, this policy has led to a controversial accession and I think it is worth analyzing to ensure that the policy is sound.

Here is a short examination of the aftermath of the accession of Cyprus into the EU:

Today, the northern Cypriot government, the TNRC, is only recognized by Turkey, while the EU and all other countries recognize the Republic of Cyprus as the only legitimate government for the whole island. However, the Republic of Cyprus only controls the southern Greek portion of the state while the northern government, which is seen as a Turkish military occupation zone by the EU, is controlled by the Turkish Cypriots. So by virtue, the north is considered to be under the rule of the Republic of Cyprus, but since the EU views the north as a Turkish military zone, it is exempt from EU legislation. The European Parliament allocates seats based on the population of a state; in Cyprus’ case, the EP gives seats based on the entire Cyprus island population but only to the southern Cyprus individuals. In essence, the Greek Cypriots are have more leverage in the parliament because of the Turkish Cypriot population but does not allocate any benefits or power to them.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Policy Analysis Paper Topic Proposals

Greetings all,

Our next task for the academic part of the program is to start thinking about potential topics for your EU Policy Analysis paper. For this exercise you should post to this blog a post of 250-500 words describing the policy area and policy problem that you propose to analyze for the EU Policy Analysis Paper.  Remember to review the assignment requirements (posted to the Assignments area on Blackboard) as well as the comments, questions, and wrap-up posts that I've placed on this blog as you think about potential topics.  In general, you should be searching for a policy problem that is puzzling in some sense (whether in the substance of the policy, the outcome of the policy process, the way in which the policy doesn't line up our theories of European integration, etc.) such that it demands analysis and explanation. 

In your post, you should remember to state the following:
  • The general policy field and the specific policy problem/issue that you are proposing to analyze.
  • The type of policy analysis proposed: historical or a prescriptive.
  • A reference to at least one source that you have found so far concerning the proposed topic.
Your post detailing your topic proposal should be posted to the SIS Brussels Blog by the end of the day (11:59 p.m. EST) on Monday, June 10.  You should then provide comments or questions on the post of at least one other individual.

Policy Analysis Topic Proposal

In the course of my internship thus far, I have had the opportunity to attend a number of events related to security and defense issues in the EU.  For example, last week I went to an event called “Safeguarding Defense Technology” with the European Defense Agency and a working group meeting at the EU parliament called “The Future of European Security and Defense Policy.”  I have also been required to do readings related to defense technologies and policies through the internship program.

Of the numerous issues that have come up in the meetings I have attended and readings I have done, one of the ones I find most interesting relates to the EU’s Common Security and Defense Policy (CSDP).  A broad attempt to examine and analyze the policy writ large would likely be beyond the scope of the paper we are required to write.  However, in many cases, I have often encountered a great deal of pessimism and tension when it comes to issues of security, with some officials arguing that there are problems with burden-sharing and identifying what issues are truly “common.”

For my policy analysis paper, I think it would be interesting to examine the extent of the EU’s intervention in Mali.  Specifically, the paper would examine, from a practical standpoint, what challenges the French faced and the successes they have had in spearheading the intervention in Mali within the framework of the EU and CSDP.  As per the Patton and Sawicki article, the paper should have two broad sections, the first a retrospective analysis and the second an evaluation to see if the purposes of the policy were met.  Because the conflict in Mali is still ongoing, the second section may briefly move into the hypothetical and highlight some possibilities for the EU moving forward.

In terms of sourcing for the paper, as the conflict in Mali is a relatively recent event I will likely principally rely on publications from newspapers, think tanks, and research groups rather than academic journals.  I will try to conduct my own analysis and draw conclusions from facts presented in the articles and reports I read.

That said, there have been some journal articles published that may well be of use.  For example, there is an article in a journal called “Survival” entitled “A Surprising Little War: First Lessons of Mali.”  This article provides a good, albeit brief, synopsis of events leading up to the conflict in Mali and will be of use in constructing context for the content of the paper.

With the intervention of Mali as a case study and using the steps outlined by Patton and Sawicki, I will identify and describe the problems states within the EU have and may continue to face in articulating and acting upon “common” security concerns.  I will then evaluate France’s intervention in Mali and identify areas where alternative policies were possible and examine what avenues France pursued in working through the EU.  Finally, I will write a brief analytical synopsis that highlights some potential directions for the CSDP, particularly as it pertains to foreign interventions, moving forward.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Bringing Theory, Practice, and Analysis Together

I've enjoyed the posts on the theoretical foundations for the study of European integration as well as the application of these theories and the analytical framework for policy analysis to the debate concerning the Single European Act and the creation of the Common Market.  I've posted comments/questions to your various posts, so be sure to check back to the posts below to respond to both my questions and the comments/questions of your classmates.  I wanted to take a moment here to provide some overarching comments and questions as well (you should make sure to reply/comment to this post with your thoughts on these comments/questions!).

First, as most of you noted, it was interesting to see how each person had their own "favorite" in terms of the competing accounts for the SEA.  This is also not surprising, though, as we often follow our own assumptions about the way the world work (even unconsciously) when evaluating evidence and analyzing politics/policy.  In fact, cognitive scientists have shown that humans in general are much more likely to accept as "fact" evidence that conforms to their existing assumptions (even if that evidence is questionable or demonstrably false) and much more likely to reject evidence that challenges their existing assumptions (even when that evidence is sound and verifiable).  This is precisely why knowing both the overarching theoretical frameworks and the specific tools/steps of the policy analysis process is so critical: these tools allow us to challenge and step beyond our preconceived notions and to conduct a thorough and reasonably objective analysis rather than an impressionistic one!  So as you evaluate the various accounts of the SEA, where (with specific reference to the policy analysis steps) is each article strong/weak?  Can you find evidence across the three articles to fill in the required material for each of the policy analysis steps such that you have, as an analyst, an account of what "really" happened?

With respect to each of the three accounts to the SEA, I think it is especially important to pay attention to how well each author meets the criteria of their own theories (internal validity) in their analysis.  For instance:
  • Moravscik's liberal intergovernmentalism tells us that the domestic policy preferences of key constituencies (farmers, business leaders, pensioners, public employees, etc.) are critical.  Does he demonstrate that these groups held preferences for a common market, and that they were able to articulate and aggregate these preferences into a common position for state leaders?
  • Garrett adopts an even more explicitly rationalist approach than Moravscik in his account..but what about the idea that the key assumptions of rational political actors are often not met in reality (as is discussed in the policy analysis handout)?
  • Sandholtz and Zysman emphasize the international environment, so how well do they present concrete evidence that this environment was what key actors were considering (above and beyond the domestic interests of various constituencies in the member states)?
For all of the accounts (and for your own policy analysis work) we want to make sure to pay attention to the actors involved as well as the timeline and process.  Who were the key actors?  When did different actors engage in the process or influence the process?  For example, who was the actor / who were the actors that proposed a common market in the 1980s?

As a final general comment, I'd also point out that the three articles themselves are not (strictly) policy analysis pieces.  They are more thorough theoretical and empirical explanations of the SEA, demonstrating how the theories we have examined can be brought to bear on a concrete policy issue/problem.  Thus, each article offers us the theoretical and empirical material to conduct *our own* policy analysis, which is really the task here (and will be the task in your policy analysis paper).  Although Garrett's article resembles the structure of a policy analysis, this isn't necessarily the aim of these three articles.  Instead, taking the evidence from all three articles, we want to use the tools of policy analysis described in the readings to determine "what really happened" with respect to the SEA.

I look forward to your questions/comments and to the continued discussion!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

EU Policy analysis: The Single European Act

The passage of the SEA and creation of the Single Market were complex undertakings that necessarily have created varying theoretical accounts of how and why they were successful, and what motivated their creation. The three articles assigned all have accounts that vary depending on which theoretical school they adhered to in their analysis.

The first article by Maravcsik states the goal of the SEA to be the removal of internal frontiers and barriers to trade and the movement of people across borders, as set forth in the EC 1985 Commission White Paper (Moravcsik, 19). He focuses extensively and almost exclusively on the motivations and negotiations of the Council members and European leaders in bargaining over the Act. He concludes that this negotiation resulted in an SEA that was a "new approach" to old financial problems and resulted in a streamlined decision making process. He rejects the view that institutional reforms were the result of any kind of "elite alliance" between European business interest groups (as put forth in the Sandholz article discussed below) and EC officials and instead emphasizes that it stemmed from a desire of the Heads of State to solidify their domestic interests in an intergovernmental institutionalist framework (Moravcsik, 20). I personally found this article to be overly focused on the Heads of State actors in the bargaining process (though I understand that he seems to be trying to move away from the more traditional analysis of the SEA as stemming soley from bargaining between elites and EC members). He rejects the notion that the SEA demonstrates a rebirth or vindication of neofunctionalism and advocates instead an intergovernmental institutionalistic approach (Moravcisk, 56). This intergovernmental approach does not match with my own analytical framework preference, since it underemphasizes the importance of non-state actors and does not look at the bigger, global picture and market pressures. Although Moravcsik also offers little analysis on the actual implementation of the SEA he does extensively cover the domestic government's motivations for selecting its policy stances.

In my opinion, the second article by Garrett is slightly more logically sound. It notes  as well that the SEA's goal was the removal of non-tarrif barriers to trade. Garrett also covers more extensively than Moravcsik what are the implications of a new, Single European market, and the streamlined legislative process stemming from the introduction of qualified majority voting in the Council of Ministers. (Garrett, 536). I agree with his functionalist approach to an extent, but I also think that it does not highlight enough the pressures of constituents on their leaders domestically nor the special interests lobbied by businesses in support of fewer barriers to trade. He seems to agree with Moravcsik's view that the ultimate form of the internal market is dominated by the most powerful countries like Germany and France, a view that I think is accurate (Garrett, 560).

The third article by Sandholz and Zysman provided the most logically sound analysis, in my opinion. This article focused more extensively than the previous two on what the actual implications of the SEA are and the current issues it faces. They cast the EU market in a more global perspective, along with the American and Asian markets. They stress that Europeans must show a more "coherent political presence" on the world stage if they are to compete in the world economy. (Sandholz, 127). I think this analysis is more practical and applicable to real world problems that emerge, and I like that it casts the EU Single Market not in terms of itself alone, but in terms of a larger, shifting global economy, which undoubtedly has an influence today in the desired level of eventual EU integration. Contrary to Moravcsik, they emphasize the role of elites and business lobbyist pressures for less economic barriers between borders (though they note these groups are unlikely to retain this role in the future). (Sandholz, 127-8).

My favorite aspect of the Sandholz and Zysman analysis is that it dismisses the importance of many competing analytical frameworks seeking to understand the SEA. They seem to reject adhering to any one particular theoretical framework, and instead analyze the complex real world pressures on and implications of the SEA. Studying these various frameworks and how they are continually surpassed by newer ones seeking to explain some new developmental shift has left me unconvinced that they are necessarily the most useful tool for understanding EU integration, its policies, or its implications. As put forth in this article, "In the end, it is not a matter of which (theoretical analysis) is better, but of whether the right questions are being asked." (Sandholz, 127).

Policy Analysis: Single European Act

After exploring the articles presented by Moravcsik, Sandholtz & Zysman, and Garrett, I feel that the account of the Single European Act presented by Geoffrey Garrett offers the best policy analysis. Both the Moravcsik and Sandholtz &Zysman articles are very heavy on theory and spend a lot of time discussing the bargaining process involved in the SEA, but their analysis lacked any structure even similar to that offered in the policy analysis materials available to us. In contrast, the Garrett article presented an analysis that follows a structure generally similar to what I was expecting.

Garrett first discussed the motivations for EC member state interest in a single market using an in depth explanation of the situation as it is similar to the prisoner’s dilemma. An integrated internal market will only benefit all parties if everyone is aware that no other actor can swindle the system. Because there is no reliable way for all the EC member states to be constantly aware of each other’s behavior the implementation of the single market required supranational institutions to monitor the internal market for any rule-breakers (557). 

Garrett does not offer much explanation in terms of implementation of the internal market as not much is really needed (directives, once accepted, become national law), however he does discuss how, why and by whom the policy was shaped. The two largest countries: France and Germany, had the most influence during negotiations, and thus the policy itself is representative of their preferences (support of universal recognition of national standards and opposition to deregulation of national economies) (554).

Unfortunately, one major part of the analysis is missing in Garrett’s article: an evaluation. He spends quite a bit of time discussing the legal implications of the Single European Act but hardly touches on any overarching takeaways from this major event.

Considering that the evaluation of the policy after it has been implemented is possibly the most important part of a policy analysis, particularly a historical policy analysis, it is very disappointing that Garrett does not go into greater detail here. With that in mind, I maintain that the Garrett article was a better representation of the Single European Act; its formation and its influence in the history of the European Union. 

Policy Analysis: Single European Market

The following analysis will outline the complex events that led to the Single European Act, following closely the Moravcsik article, which provides a logical sound account of the Single European Act.

The Problem
            The creation of the European Community was built on the idea of creating a more integrated Europe, particularly in terms of the economy and security. However, up until the approval of the Single European Act, members within the European Community were unhappy about the lack of free trade between them. Thus, it was assumed that completion of the single market would lead to an economically stronger Europe. Up until the approval of the Single European Act in 1986, there were many issues facing the European Community that needed to be addressed, such as “comprehensive liberalization of trade in services and the removal of domestic regulations that act as nontariff barriers” (Moravcsik, 19-20). The need for the completion of the European Community’s internal market was spurred on by the growing “trade dependence of the European economies” along with the past decade of declining and poor economic performances (Garrett, 538).  It was assumed that if all of the barriers for the movement of capital, goods, and people were removed among the member states, that the transaction costs would decrease and economies of scale would increase (Sandholtz & Zysman, 95). Thus, the policy problem was how an agreement would be made between the twelve member states, particularly France, Germany, and Britain, in order to address these problems.

            To come up with a policy option that will further European integration through the forming of a single internal market as well as address procedural reform.

Criteria for Evaluation
            The policies addressing the single market issue for the European Community had to meet the following criteria:
1.     Viability – operationally, politically, and economically
2.     Removal of barriers for the movement of (Sandholtz & Zysman, 95):
a.     Capital
b.     Goods
c.     Persons

In order for policymakers to take a policy option seriously, that policy has to be operationally, politically, and economically viable. The European Community is complex in that it is comprised of many member states; thus, a policy solution must be able to be carried out by the member states without creating negative side-affects. In addition, because the European Community is made up of many member states, each state has its own political agenda and wants to protect its sovereignty and economy. Consequently, any policy solution has to be politically viable – all member states have to be able to agree to the solution – and for that to happen, member states have to perceive the policy solution has something that will be in their best interest economically.

The second criterion for evaluation is perhaps difficult to quantify; however, it is the main goal of the member states. By removing these barriers, a single internal market will be created. Any policy option that removes these barriers is a possible solution to the policy problem.

Policy Options:
            Three member states were the main actors that played a role in the designing of policy: France, Germany, and Britain. Each of these states had a different proposal on how to address the policy problem.

Status Quo
            Concerning economic intervention of the internal market, the status quo gave way to national protection while voting in Councils of Ministers would require a unanimous vote and the option of national vetoes.

Concerning economic intervention of the internal market, Britain was in favor of “pervasive deregulation of national regimes” by the European Commission (Garrett, 543). As for voting in Council Ministers, Britain was for “unanimity voting with informal qualified majority rule” (Garrett, 543).

Concerning economic intervention of the internal market, France supported reregulation at the European Commission level as well as “maintenance of elements of national regimes”(Garrett, 543). As for voting in Council Ministers, France was for “qualified majority rule” (Garrett, 543).

Concerning economic intervention of the internal market, Germany also supported reregulation at the European Commission level as well as “maintenance of elements of national regimes”(Garrett, 543). As for voting in Council Ministers, like France, Germany was for “qualified majority rule” (Garrett, 543).

Single European Act
            The Single European Act was drafted with the goal of implementing the European Commission’s White Paper and parts of the Dooge report. The Commission’s White Paper was comprised of nearly 279 proposals, which called for a “less invasive form of liberalization whereby only minimal standards would be harmonized” (Moravcsik, 20). In addition, it created a timetable and a program for the completion of a single internal market (Sandholtz & Zysman, 114). The Dooge report contained several proposals such as the liberalization of insurance and transport services, open public procurement, and common EC standards (Moravcsik, 39). However, the ultimate goal of the Single European Act was to further European integration and the “completion of the internal market” (Sandholtz & Zysman, 95). Along with creating a single internal market, the Single European Act aimed to produce a collaborative legislative process, allowing for qualified majority voting (Garrett, 548).

            Responsibility for implementation for the Single European Act would fall onto the European Community as a whole as well as each individual member state. Implementation is not simple, particularly with the growth of the European Community. Furthermore, the complex legislative system created within the European Community between the Commission, Council, and Parliament, means that there are a variety of actors that are in charge of overseeing the implementation of this policy as well as their own point of view on how that should be done. It is for these reasons that how further European integration will be achieved, particularly in terms of a single internal market, has to be continually re-evaluated.

            The Single European Act has been, for the most part, operationally, politically, and economically viable. It was approved and ratified by all the member states and it has worked towards the goal of creating a single internal market. Though it has been amended, it represents an important step forward in getting rid of all barriers for the movement of goods, people, and capital.

            The Single European Act was an important piece of legislation that addressed the issues that were keeping the European Community from completely integrating into a single market. Moravcsik’s article provides the most logically sound account of the Single European Act by providing a history of the negotiating process and how a compromise was made. Furthermore, Moravcik’s article interprets the negotiations through the various interested actors and interest groups and applies the different theories to the negotiating process. This provides a clear picture of what the expectation was for those interested in a policy solution.