Sunday, June 2, 2013

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. 


  1. I agree that the Sandholz/Zysman article did not seem to follow the formal policy analysis structures we have covered in class so far, but that's what I liked about it. By not trying to fit any analytical preferences over what they were actually analyzing, I felt they actually created the least biased perspective on the birth and current status of the SEA.

    I also agree with you criticism of the Garrett article as lacking any real take-away analysis. While evaluating the development of the SEA can be useful in a historical analysis, an analysis that holds few predictions for the future does not seem very useful (even if it calls itself a "historical analysis"). One of the main reasons for the existence of these types of analysis of EU policy is, in my opinion, to better predict patterns and what direction future events will take.

  2. I agree that the structure of Garrett's analysis was sound and coherent as a historical policy analysis and you are right that it was disappointing that he did not offer an evaluation. It would be difficult for me to utilise this article in practice because he does not offer any evaluation for me to take away.

    On the other hand I enjoyed Moravcsik's article because he delved into the theory to explain the success of the SEA. I think the bargaining aspect of attaining an agreement is important to understand and is useful when analyzing how an agreement came to be.

  3. I also thought Garrett's article was missing an informative evaluation at the end. That actually made if more difficult for me to judge which theory gave the best "logical" portrayal of the SEA. However, as I mentioned in my other post, I thought he brought up some valid points that, to a certain extent, made me question what Sandholtz had argued (i.e. the EU had more options to respond to Asia rather than instituting SEA).

    I can understand why Cassandra favors the Garrett article - I liked his prisoner's dilemma example and he did a good job explaining the sway that larger/more powerful states had in instituting SEA. However, Ryan's points about the lack of emphasis on business/constituents were quite good. I think I broadly agree with the explanations offered by both authors but prefer what was (to me) Sandholz's more direct line of reasoning.

  4. Cassandra makes a good case for the Garrett piece here, and this is the article that most closely represents the assumptions of rationality and instrumentality that are discussed in the policy analysis handout. But what about the fact that these assumptions are rarely met in reality? Can we safely assume that states were clearly aware of their preferences (and the preferences of others) in the negotiating process, and then went about this process in the calculating (and apolitical) way that Garrett describes?

    As a general comment, I'd also point out that these articles themselves are not (strictly) policy analysis pieces. They are more thorough theoretical and empirical explanations of the SEA, and 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!