Sunday, June 2, 2013

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.


  1. A very thorough post, Emily, and one that does a good job of linking up the specific steps of the policy analysis process with the readings and evidence that we have covered.

    You make a compelling case for Moravscik's account here, though I find it interesting that you focus most on the preferences of states for the re-design of the EU decision-making process rather than state preferences for the common market itself. Does this mean that Moravcsik might have overlooked an important dimension in his account? Were the domestic interest groups (the key drivers for state preferences in Moravcsik's account) really aware of, and advocating for particular positions on, these decision-making arrangements?

    I think the biggest difficulty for rationalist interest-based accounts like Moravscik's lies in the problem of interest aggregation. Does Moravcsik show us that the individual domestic groups in each state were not only aware of their preferences (that their individual/group interests were best served through the creation of a common market) but also that these groups were able to articulate their preferences, together with other groups, into a common preference for the state, which in turn was then the negotiating basis for state leaders on the SEA?

    These are not easy questions, and just posing the questions does not mean that Moravscik is right/wrong. But we should consider these questions as we evaluate the accounts! I'm curious to hear what everybody has to say on these questions.

  2. I do think that Moravcsik may have overlooked an important decision in his account in terms of the re-design of the EU. However, I feel that a good policy analysis requires a great understanding of the agenda-setting process and recognizing who were the claims-makers or actors involved in the formulation of policy. The SEA's main focus, from my understanding, was to create a single internal market (the policy problem) and I think Moravcsik's article is the best in discussing the claims-makers/actors involved in the agenda-setting and policy formulation process.

    Certainly, the re-design of the EU became an important aspect of the SEA, but I think it grew out of the original objective of creating a single internal market. Perhaps this is why Moravcsik did not discuss it in his article. This is why I was somewhat torn between Moravcsik's article and Garrett's article. I did feel that Garrett did a much better job in adding in this second dimension of the SEA.

    I think a case could be made for any of the three articles - as was demonstrated by all of our varying responses. However, for the arguments mentioned above, I chose Moravcsik's article.

  3. A good response, Emily. One thing to keep in mind, though, is that the basic timeline of events shows us that it was the European Commission that formulated the SEA and brought it to the member states, and not the other way around! The member states wanted to do "something" about Europe's lagging competitiveness, but were not able to agree on any sort of a direction *until* the SEA offered a policy proposal for a single market (the White Paper). Only *after* that point to member state preferences become relevant, and only in a circumscribed sense (they were all focused on the Single Market proposal, and not other possible alternatives). With that in mind, the objective of creating a single market was a Commission initiative, not a result of specific member-state claims!