N°45 2014/3 – The Politics of Values in EU Governance: Occurrences, Effects and Modes of Regulation of Values

edited by François Foret and Annabelle Littoz-Monnet, 2014/3 (n° 45)


François Foret, Annabelle Littoz-Monnet – Legitimisation and regulation of and through values

This issue analyses the extent, modalities and effects of the emergence of values in EU politics, policies and polity. A brief introduction presents the rise of values on the European political agenda; the different forms that these values can take; their strategic uses by actors; their effects as factors of conflict, cooperation or legitimisation; the political frameworks and processes designed to regulate them. Thematic articles discuss interactions between values and European public affairs under various angles, values as ‘objects’ of polarization in public opinion; framing of cultural or ethical policies, examined in the cases of abortion or stem cell research; internal management of values within the European Commission.

Pierre BréchonEuropean Values and their Degree of Political Polarization

Based on the analysis of the European Values Studies (from 1990 to 2008), this article first shows that the values are rarely consensual. In many areas, they are still remaining rather contrasted but not extremely polarized, what the distribution of the individuals on the left right scale, studied for the whole of the European Union and for each country, already indicates. The paper then shows that main traditional political conflicts – identified by Rokkan – are today quite weakened. New conflicts and more generally the main themes of public debate do not appear to give rise to a strong polarization of values between rightist and leftist people.

Oriane Calligaro – From ‘European cultural heritage’ to ‘cultural diversity’? The changing core values of European cultural policy 

This article analyses the discursive shift in the EU cultural policy from culture-based identity to value-based citizenship. While the promotion of European cultural heritage proposed to embody the values of European integration and highlighted specific cultural references, intercultural dialogue is a procedural tool based on shared European values – also presented as universal. Therefore intercultural dialogue represents a departure from an ontological approach to European identity and culture. Promotion of cultural expressions is not abandoned but the concept of European cultural heritage lost its pivotal role in EU cultural policy to give way to a supposedly more inclusive frame.

Jim Dratwa – How values come to matter at the European Commission: Ethical experimentations of Europe

How do values affect the workings of the European Commission? This paper examines a particular instantiation of that question by studying the institutionalisation of ethics at the European Commission. Building on the literature on ethical expertise in policymaking, which has critically underscored the ‘democratisation’ and the ‘instrumentalisation’ of ethical expertise, this paper scrutinises a further set of transformative effects. Mobilising studies of expertise as well as of politicisation and of morality policies, while considering specific cases in the field, it evidences the features and challenges of the ‘ethics lattice’ within the European Commission also extending to other bodies.

Emilie Mondo – The role of values in EU bioethics politics: An American culture wars scenario? The case of abortion

This article analyzes the effect of values on European morality politics through the abortion issue. In front of the politicization of a sovereign competence within the EU, the American theory of culture wars enables to study the instrumentalization of values by faith-based groups. The qualitative methodological approach relies on both semi-structured interviews and documents analysis. The results confirm that values help actors to (re) assert a particular identity. EU-level controversies on the meaning of secular – but not value-free – notions then induce a shift from values as resources to values as ends. This could have an impact on traditional European politics.

Aurélia Bardon – How to talk about bioethics? God, human dignity and embryonic stem cells in France and in the United States

In liberal political theory, it is often assumed that justifications of political decisions should not make use of non-political values, especially religious ones, but only of political values. Deep moral questions, notably concerning bioethics, have however failed to meet this standard. In this paper, I argue that the distinctions between political and non-political values and between religious and secular values are blurrier than is usually acknowledged. I illustrate this claim with an analysis of arguments used in France and in the United States in debates about stem cell research.


Marie-Eve BélangerThe Enlargement as the Foundation of the Community order Comparative Analysis of the Europeanity Discourse

This article offers a comparative discourse analysis of the enlargement processes between 1970 and 2013. It shows how order is built on the European territory by highlighting the discourses’ structuring power. Through an original analytical framework designed from the study of the Schuman Declaration (1950), the europeanity discourse is defined through four propositions about its nature. This discourse is then deconstructed along the recurring themes of origin, becoming, meaning and space. In conclusion, it is shown that European integration occurs in a determinate discursive setting, above and beyond European actors’ strategic capabilities or their passive socialization.

Critical Reading

Laura Szczuczak, Holden PatrickIn search of structural power: EU aid policy as a global political instrument

Stefan Waizer, Caterina CartaThe European Union Diplomatic Service – Ideas, preferences and identities