Structural Funding Policy in the EU
The central aim of this paper is to examine European Union policy in terms of its agenda setting characteristics. To do this, a theory of punctuated equilibrium is explored, based on the emergence and recession of policy issues from the transnational policy agenda. The primary goal of this paper is to define the current equilibrium and how it is punctuated. The secondary goal is to examine what forces drive the punctuated equilibrium, so that we might predict punctuation in the future. To this end, I hope to demonstrate the utility of the theory by studying structural funding (SF) policy within the European Union.
“Supranational integration has been one of the most distinctive
features of the politics of Western Europe since the end of
the Second World War. Indeed, during these years, few
other policy issues arising initially in the sphere of foreign
affairs have impinged so deeply upon the domestic domain
of the countries concerned and have prompted such wide-ranging
changes in the political and economic life of Europe.”
The twenty-first century is bringing with it an entirely different perspective on transnational integration. The transformation of Western Europe into a transnational body marks victories of enlargement, creation of a European Community, passage of a line of treaties, and adoption of economic and social policies. The consequences, in terms of costs and benefits, of joining the European Union can be clearly evidenced by the passage of an onslaught of economic policies such as those included in the Treaty on European Union, the Single European Act, the Growth and Stability Pact, and others.
Examining policy at the transnational level gives scholars the unique opportunity to see how the agenda setting process works within systems of multi-level governance. The increasingly interdependent nature of the transnational system has “resulted in national borders becoming ever more ill matched with political and economic forces and reality.” This interdependence has made it possible for Western European states to transfer policy responsibilities to the transnational level in order to “shape, manage, control, take advantage of, and keep pace with the modern world.”
To the extent that transnational authorities attempt to control, either directly or indirectly, the economies and social welfare of its members, the study of policymaking is a process worth studying. EU policymaking is governed by various instruments, including treaty provisions, regulations, and directives. While many policy studies on the EU focus on the need for, and benefits of, general economic and social policies, the more fundamental, and I would submit rigorous issues of specific policy formation, and its impacts, are under researched.
The central aim of this paper is to begin closing that gap by examining EU policy in terms of its agenda setting characteristics. To do this, I...