Researchers of the Montesquieu Institute participated in the 6th General Conference of the European Consortium for Political Research in Reykjavik from25th to 27th August 2011. The conference took place at the University of Iceland and hosted about 430 panels, with a total of almost 2,500 participants.
The Comparative Agendas Project had its own section with panels. One panel on Agenda-Setting in the European Union was organised by MI fellow Sebastiaan Princen. The panel attracted a lot of papers, dealing with the main forces behind agenda-setting in the EU, comparative analysis between the Union and is member states, agenda-setting on specific policies, and the role of the Council Presidency. One of the papers was co-authored by Marcello Carammia from the University of Catania, Sebastiaan Princen and MI research directorArco Timmermans. It discussed the different ways of perceiving and handling information in the European Council, distinguishing between serial and parallel processing of the constant flow of information that comes upon policy makers. Studying the period between 1975 and 2010 the authors identified three periods. The first, until the signing of the Single European Act in 1986, exhibits an erratic pattern of quick shifts between agenda concentration and expansion. Then a second period, lasting until the end of the century, shows increasing agenda diversity with longer cycles of alternation. In the third period, the agenda has become the most diverse on average.
Another paper by MI PhD candidate Petya Alexandrova and Arco Timmermans analysed the convergence of attention to a range of topics on the executive agendas of the EU and its member states. The study found that the level of correspondence between EU and national governmental agendas is some 60 percent, but with considerable ups and downs over the period 1975-2007. The analysis did not reveal any major differences between five member states’ agendas compared to the European Council agenda – the countries varied together in their connection to the EU, going up and down mostly in one and the same pattern. Another finding is that macroeconomic, foreign affairs and governance matters are the topics where convergence is hardest to achieve. Some topics appear usually more prominent on the domestic agendas (health), while others receive more attention by the European Council (agriculture, banking, finance and the common market). This finding speaks to the development of policy making competencies within the EU, but the finding on the three ‘core’ issues suggests that formal jurisdictions of the EU explain only part ofde development of attention over time.
MI fellow Kutsal Yesilkagit co-chaired a Section on Executive Politics and Governance in an Age of Multi-Level Governance. The section hosted panels on various aspects of politics and bureaucracy. In particular, the panels contained papers on national states that have to cope with highly fragmented, dynamic, and multi-level environments as a consequence of the globalisation of markets, the emergence of international and supranational bodies, and a series of rapid technological innovations.
Kutsal Yesilkagit also presented two co-authored papers. A paper entitled Regulation without Representation? Political Representation and Regulatory Governance in the Netherlands, examined the development in contemporary democracies whereby substantial amounts of rulemaking power have shifted to independent regulatory agencies, raising concerns about democratic deficit. The authors argued that independent regulatory agencies form instances of extra-parliamentary political decision-making arenas in which non-electoral forms of representation are practiced. By means of a case study of the Netherlands Healthcare Authority (NZa), the study illustrates that this independent regulatory authority has accommodated the representation of regulated stakeholder interests throughout the regulatory policy formation process.
Kutsal Yesilkagit’s second paper, Does task matter? The effect of task on the establishment, autonomy and control of semi-autonomous agencies, tested the claim that the task of agencies is an important determinant of agency design, autonomy, governance and control. Applying different techniques and measurements, the authors discovered some effects of some tasks on agency autonomy and control, which are, however, often not direct or not sustained in analyses including multiple determinants. The formal autonomy and size of budget of an agency are more decisive than the task in explaining agency autonomy and control. The paper suggested that researchers should use multiple task categories in future studies instead of simple dichotomies, not only because agencies perform multiple tasks but also because specific tasks have specific effects.
MI fellow Peter Scholten presented a paper with the title Beyond the Dutch Multicultural Model of Integration? Agenda-Dynamics and the Multi-Level Governance of Immigrant Integration in the Netherlands. The paper analysed the relation between agenda dynamics on the local and national level and the multi-level governance of immigrant integration in the Netherlands. It examined processes of agenda-setting in Dutch national politics and in the two major Dutch cities (Amsterdam and Rotterdam), exploring also how the identified patterns of agenda dynamics have influenced the framing of immigrant integration issues.