N° 55, 2017/1 – Varia


Pierre VanheuverzwijnHow the Commission fills in the blanks of the European SemesterIncomplete contracts and supranational discretion in the EU’s post-crisis economic governance

Since the onset of the crisis the EU has introduced new instruments of economic governance, at the heart of which is the European Semester. Scholars largely disagree on which institutional actor has come out as the winner from these reforms. This article attempts to contribute to this debate by examining how the European Semester has been enforced by the Commission since 2011. The main argument is that although the decision-making process during the crisis has been broadly dominated by member states, the Commission enjoys considerable discretion over the enforcement of the European Semester. This is explained by the incomplete nature of the contracts of delegation between member states and the Commission. As a case study, the article focusses on the Commission’s discretion in enforcing the Macroeconomic Imbalance Procedure and the reinforced Stability and Growth Pact, as well as in shaping the procedures of the Semester itself. At the same time, it is shown that the Commission uses its discretion very carefully, alternating between flexibility and rigidity.

Gabrielle Bouleau – Greening European water policy, experimentalist governance and policy learning

Until the 1990s, the European water policy has been defined by and for water users abstracting water or discharging waste through water infrastructures: urban water services, irrigated agriculture and industries discharging pollutants into rivers. The European Water Framework directive (WFD) issued in 2000 departs from this sectorial stance. It regulates all continental aquatic systems in order to take into account cumulative effects of environmental degradations. This article evaluates the ecologisation of the European water policy through its instruments of regulation and governance. It presents a typology of policy learning in relation to their sector-based or ecological orientation in a multilevel context. At European level, the enactment of the WFD may be explained by mere strategic learning. Its implementation at French level requires further elaboration and implies: (1) sector-based strategic learning fostering equipment; (2) ecological conceptual learning; and (3) uncertainties generated by new commensuration process. In this case, ecological mainstreaming proceeds along two avenues: recycling of previously marginal ecological tools designed within the water sector and ignorance of new tools and other actors strategies.

Clément Jadot, Camille Kelbel ‘Same, same, but different’ Assessing the politicisation of the European debate using a lexicometric study of the 2014 Euromanifestos

The political programmes drafted by the political parties at European level are reputed consensual and unappealing, just like their designers, and as such are marginalised. We argue that Euromanifestos nevertheless constitute a dynamic material, and a relevant indicator of the structuring of the European political space. Using computer-based discourse analysis, this article examines how the politicisation of the European political sphere is given to see in the 2014 manifestos published by the 13 registered Europarties ahead of the European elections. Results show that although sharing a discursive space, each Europarty mobilizes this space in a peculiar manner, leading to a plurality of European projects.

Veronika Valkovicova – “Regrettably, it seems that breaking one border causes others to tumble”Nationalism and homonegativity in the 2015 Slovak Referendum

The paper focuses on the interplay of nationalist and homonegative discourses applied by anti-LGBT activists during the Slovak Referendum on the Protection of Family in 2015. The study applies a conceptual framework of Europeanisation as a cognitive resource, which activists on the national level apply in order to campaign against same-sex marriage and adoption rights of LGBT people. Via frame content analysis, the study contributes to diverse literature on the discursive cleavage-building of homonegativity and ethno-nationalism in Central and Eastern European countries.

Pierre Haroche – Transposing the Fifth Republic: The National Political Regime as a Source of France’s European Policy

This article contends that the logic of the regime of the Fifth Republic influenced France’s European policy, especially towards the European Parliament. This argument is illustrated by two case studies: the 1965 Empty Chair crisis and the 1986 Single European Act. In both cases, France’s position was defined by the executive, which sought to transpose to the European level its practice of subordinating the French Parliament, giving Council powers priority over those of the European Parliament.

Book Reviews

Clémence Ledoux – Amandine Crespy, Welfare Markets in Europe. The Democratic Challenge of European Integration, Basingstoke and New York, Palgrave Macmillan, 2016, 278 pages.

Jean Joana – Samuel B. H. Faure, Défense européenne. Émergence d’une culture stratégique commune, Outremont, Éditions Athéna, 2016, 236 pages.