Stability through change in Germany's decentralised EU policy coordination
Title: Stability through change in Germany's decentralised EU policy coordination
Series/Number: EUI RSCAS; 2018/66
During EU-level turbulence, even member states with decentralised coordination systems need to centralise to promote their preferences on the EU-level. Why does this not result in permanent centralisation? We argue that situational centralisation during turbulence triggers a three-step ‘reactive sequence’ that reinforces a decentralised system in the long run. First, exceptional problem pressure enables prime ministerial offices to shift the formalised, bureaucratic and horizontal ‘ordinary mode’ of coordination to an informal, politicised and hierarchical ‘turbulence mode’. Second, the turbulence mode’s characteristics depend on the bargaining goals. If a country wishes to change the existing EU policy framework, the prime minister assumes a hierarchical position; if a country favours the status quo or gradual change, the lead ministry is established as a domestic veto player. Third, when turbulence subsides, a decentralised system’s underlying institutional factors endow the losers of centralisation with opportunity structures to push back. As line ministries acquire additional competences during turbulence, this sequence eventually strengthens the main defenders of the decentralised coordination system. We illustrate the suggested mechanism in a within-case comparison of the adaptation of German EU policy coordination to the Eurozone and refugee crises.
Subject: European Union; Germany; Policy coordination; Resilience; Turbulence
Type of Access: openAccess