Theory, and Methods
Paolo R. Graziano and Maarten P. Vink
Introduction: The Europeanization
Turn in EU Studies: Beyond Grand
Deﬁ ning Europeanization:
Conceptual Debates 37
Bottom-up vs. Top-down 37
What is not Europeanization?
Theoretical Debates 38
New institutionalism 38
Goodness of Fit 40
Mediating Factors 41
Worlds of Compliance 41
Empirical Examples 42
Policy Domains 45
Research Design 45
Conclusion: Future Challenges
in Analysing Europeanization 48
FURTHER READING 48
WEB LINKS 49
Membership of the European Union demands a fundamental reorganization of the way
politics is organized in the member states of the EU. Europeanization studies focus on
the impact of EU membership on member states. In this chapter we discuss a number
of fundamental issues that arise when studying Europeanization. What actually is
Europeanization? And what is not? How can we explain why some parts of political life
seem more affected by the process of European integration than others? How do we
explain variation between member states? These questions are important if we want to
understand what Europeanization means with respect to the evolution of national dem-
ocratic political regimes and their decision-making processes. We provide examples of
Europeanization studies and also discuss how to design a good Europeanization study.
Paolo R. Graziano and Maarten P. Vink
Introduction: The Europeanization Turn in EU
Studies: Beyond Grand Theory
Since the late ﬁfties, European studies became increasingly relevant ﬁrst in interna-
tional relations and then in comparative politics (Risse-Kappen, 1996). The main
theoretical focus for almost forty years regarded the formation of the new European
polity. On the one hand, the ‘neofunctionalist’ reading of Europe, provided initially
by Haas (1958), focused on the societal driving forces of European political integra-
tion. Haas deﬁned political integration as a ‘process whereby political actors in sev-
eral distinct national settings are persuaded to shift their loyalties, expectations, and
political activities toward a new centre, whose institutions possess or demand juris-
diction over the pre-existing national states’ (Haas 1958: 16). In the original analysis
provided by Haas, European integration was fuelled by the ‘loyalty shift’ expressed
by non-state elites—such as the new ‘regional’ bureaucracy and interest associations
formed at the level of the ‘new’ region—who considered a new (European) suprana-
tional setting to be in line with their predeﬁned social and economic preferences.
The key motors of European integration, in this view, were non-state actors seeking
a new centre which could be beneﬁcial to their selected interests. In the words of a
regional integration is an intrinsically sporadic and conﬂictual process, but one in
which, under conditions of democracy and pluralistic representation, national govern-
ments will ﬁnd themselves increasingly entangled in regional pressures and end up
resolving their conﬂicts by conceding a wider scope and devolving more authority to
the regional organizations they have created.
(Schmitter 2004: 47)
Put differently, in the neofunctionalist reading, European integration follows an ‘ex-
pansive logic of sector integration’ in the form of inevitable ‘spillovers’ from one
economic sector to the other (functional spillover) which eventually also leads to
(European) political integration (political spillover).
On the other hand, the ‘intergovernmentalists’—such as Stanley Hoffmann (1966,
1982)—or the ‘liberal’ pioneers of intergovernmentalism (Moravcsik 1993, 1998)
challenged both the empirical and theoretical strengths of neofunctionalism since,
as for the former, it increasingly appeared that neofunctionalism ‘mispredicted both
the trajectory and the process of EC evolution’ (Moravcsik 1993: 476) and, as for the
latter, neofunctionalism ‘lacked a theoretical core clearly enough speciﬁed to pro-
vide a sound basis for precise empirical testing and improvement’ (Moravcsik 1993:
476). In fact, the main claim of intergovernmentalists was that after years of Euro-
pean integration still the state was ‘alive and kicking’ and capable of shaping further
the process of supranational integration. As Hoffmann notes in his 1982 contribu-
tion: ‘the most striking reality is not the frequent and well-noted impotence of the
so-called sovereign state. It is its survival’ (Hoffmann, 1982, 21).
And, according to the intergovernmentalist reading of the process of regional in-
tegration, the main motors of European integration traditionally were not non-state
actors but rather national governments.
The best way of analyzing the EEC is not in the traditional terms of integration theory,
which assumes that the members are engaged in the formation of a new, suprana-
tional political entity superseding the old nations . . . and that there is a zero-sum game
between the nation-states on the one hand, the EEC on the other. . . . It is to look at the
EEC as an international regime’.
(Hoffmann 1982: 33)
Therefore, intergovernmentalism focuses on the enduring presence of ‘rational’ gov-
ernments which domestically form their preferences and subsequently negotiate at
the regional (i.e. European) level.
We will not dwell here on a discussion of the two main contrasting theoretical un-
derstandings of European integration, but we argue that it is relevant to better under-
stand the ‘Europeanization turn’ in EU studies in connection with the loss of
attractiveness of other approaches which have been mainstream for decades. In fact,
until the end of the nineties—with few exceptions (Bulmer 1983; Ladrech 1994)—the
main focus of European studies scholars was the description and explanation of the
European integration process whereas very limited space was left for a systematic anal-
ysis of the ongoing relationship between regional and domestic political regimes. And
this is where Europeanization comes in as a new phase in European integration studies
or a ‘third step’ in a European-based regional integration theory (Caporaso 2007).
Europeanization research builds on the above mentioned classic integration per-
spectives. First, with respect to neofunctionalism and its more recent variants—
supranational governance (Sandholtz and Stone Sweet 1998) and multilevel
governance (Hooghe and Marks 2001; Piattoni 2009)—the Europeanization litera-
ture is inspired by the notion of ‘uploading’ domestic societal preferences at the EU
level. Second, with respect to the intergovernmentalist approach, Europeanization is
inspired by the focus on the domestic state-related sources of European decision
making and their consequences on the nature of EU institutions and policies.
Nevertheless, the Europeanization approach goes clearly beyond this European
centred orientation of ‘classic’ integration theories by focusing primarily on a differ-
ent target: the domestic level. To be sure, since the mid-nineties the domestic ‘shift’
was inbuilt in the administrative oriented analysis of domestic patterns of adaptation
to EU membership (Rometsch and Wessels 1996; Meny, Muller, and Quermonne
1996; Hanf and Soetendorp 1998; Börzel 1999; Kassim et al. 2000; Héritier et al.
2001; Zeff and Pirro 2001). This reorientation was clearly connected to the expan-
sion of EU powers which followed the adoption (and ratiﬁcation) of the Maastricht
Treaty which reinvigorated the EU political arena as a provider of new political op-
portunities for both domestic governments and societal actors involved in national
decision making. The above mentioned contributions, together with the ﬁrst, more
explicit, Europeanization studies (Olsen 1996; Harmsen 1999), are characterized by
Paolo R. Graziano and Maarten P. Vink
a clear change of focus since they are primarily centred on domestic administrative
adaptation, although others have considered also the changes in the ‘organizational
logic of national politics and policy-making’ induced by EU membership (Ladrech
1994) or, more broadly, changes that occurred within ‘national political systems’
connected to European integration (Goetz and Hix 2000).
In the early stages of the development of Europeanization research, the main ana-
lytical core of the studies was the domestic implementation of EU policies, which
also shared several substantive—but not methodological—features with the ‘EU di-
rective transposition’ research agenda (Boerzel 2001; Mastenbroek 2003; Kaeding
2006). The implementation studies originated from the idea that European inte-
gration remains an incomplete political project as long as European rules are not
implemented according to their intentions (Sverdrup 2007). In fact, the ﬁrst main
empirical focus of Europeanization research was in the most developed European
policy domains such as environmental policy (Knill 1998), transport policy (Héri-
tier et al. 2001), and cohesion policy (Conzelmann 1998; Benz and Eberlein 1999).
Among the ‘classic’ European policies, only agricultural policy has been relatively
absent from early Europeanization research, arguably because it is probably the pol-
icy domain par excellence that has been virtually completely ‘European’ on account
of the integrated character of the Common Agricultural Policy. Yet, as Roederer-
Rynning (2007) demonstrates, even in the ﬁeld of agricultural policy the domestic
impact of European policies—for example with regard to state-farmer relations—is
far from self-evident. In the early 2000s also, other policy domains where the in-
volvement of the EU was of lesser importance were investigated, such as social pol-
icy (Graziano 2003), refugee policy (Lavenex 2001), or even citizenship policy
(Checkel 2001; Vink 2001). These studies contain mainly qualitative case studies or
focused policy-based comparisons of a limited number of countries, whereas an-
other set of contributions were more country-based analysis which went beyond a
mere sectoral analysis (Falkner 2001; Grabbe 2001).
Furthermore, Europeanization research has also provided more focused ‘Euro-
pean’ analytical lenses for the study of domestic politics and policy making. Both
political scientists and political sociologists have increasingly realized that the EU,
as an advanced instance of regional integration, has become a signiﬁcant part of na-
tional politics. Especially with regard to policy making, it is currently very rare to
ﬁnd domestic policies which are not somehow connected to European ones. With-
out considering the European sources of domestic policies, today any domestic-
centred policy analysis would neglect important international constraints and
opportunities for political actors. This observation holds true beyond policy analysis
and applies to changing domestic opportunity structures and political environments
more generally. First, the study of the domestic executives could not be carried out
without a clear understanding of how the governments developed and coordinated
domestic preferences in EU negotiations and increasingly tried to oversee domestic
implementation of EU policies (Zeff and Pirro 2001). Second, other aspects of na-
tional politics have also been increasingly investigated adopting—more or less
explicitly—Europeanization analytical lenses: domestic parliaments (Holzhacker
2002), political parties (Ladrech 2002), party systems (Mair 2000), interest groups
(Grote and Lang 2003), and local governments (Pasquier 2005).
When we consider the development of the Europeanization literature, a peak of
important publications emerges at the end of the 1990s and in the early 2000s (see
Box 2.1; see also Featherstone for a bibliometric analysis of the period 1981–2001,
Featherstone 2003: 5). Why did the Europeanization turn in European integration
studies emerge during the second half of the nineties? Mainly on account of two
BOX 2.1 Europeanization: twelve key publications
Ladrech 1994, Europeanization of Domestic Politics and Institutions
Path-breaking study that focuses on the case of France
Bulmer and Burch 1998, Organising for Europe
Study of the Europeanization of British central government
Börzel 1999, Towards Convergence in Europe?
Study of the EU and regional government in Germany and Spain
Knill and Lehmkuhl 1999, How Europe Matters
Study of three different mechanisms of Europeanization
Haverland 2000, National Adaptation to European Integration
Study that points at the importance of institutional veto points
Radaelli 2000, Whither Europeanization
Seminal paper on the concept of Europeanization
Goetz and Hix 2000, Europeanised Politics?
Edited volume with important studies by scholars of comparative politics
Green Cowles et al. 2001, Transforming Europe
Edited volume which advocated a ‘three-step’ approach to Europeanization
Olsen 2002, The Many Faces of Europeanization
Study of the different ways in which Europeanization can be conceived
Schmidt 2006, Democracy in Europe
Study about the impact of European integration on national democracies
Graziano and Vink 2007, Europeanization
Edited volume (25 chapters) on the state-of-the-art in Europeanization research
Ladrech 2010, Europeanization and National Politics
First single-authored textbook on Europeanization, with a strong comparative politics
See References at the end of this chapter for full references.
Paolo R. Graziano and Maarten P. Vink
fundamental reasons: the ﬁrst is endogenous to EU studies, and the second is ex-
ogenous. The ﬁrst motivation is connected to the loss of analytical appeal of the
almost four decades-long debate between ‘neofunctionalists’ and ‘intergovernmen-
talists’ and the need to move onto a new stage in EU studies. As the authors of the
path-breaking contribution on Europeanization (Transforming Europe: Europeani-
zation and Domestic Change) point out in the introduction to their book, it was the
result of a ‘joint research project [that wanted to] examine the “next phase” of Eu-
ropean integration studies: the impact of the European Union on the members
states’ (Green Cowles et al. 2001: ix). Put differently, by the end of the nineties it
clearly emerged—at least to some inspired scholars—that European integration
studies needed to enter into a new phase which would focus on different topics
with respect to the more consolidated European integration literature. The some-
what sterile contraposition between the two leading interpretations of the EU
needed to be overcome by shifting the analytical focus. The second reason is con-
nected to the emerging relevance of EU policies and institutions after the ratiﬁca-
tion of the Maastricht Treaty. As in the case of national parliaments, during the
second half of the nineties the political actors were discovering the new domestic
obligations connected to the expansion of EU powers and therefore needed to
adapt to a new multilevel political game. Also, domestic political actors had in-
creasingly to cope with the consolidation of, or new competencies emerging in,
numerous policy ﬁelds such as social policy (Graziano 2003), immigration policy
(Vink 2001), or foreign policy (Tonra 2001). To be sure, the importance of Euro-
pean integration for domestic affairs has been a long-lasting phenomenon, since
domestic courts have applied and interpreted European law, for over thirty years
(Stone Sweet 2004) and more recently rulings have had an increasing impact also
on poorly regulated EU policies (for example, social policy; see Ferrera 2005). The
judicial construction of Europe may be well acknowledged now, but until very re-
cent times empirical evidence has been lacking of how national judges have made
(and are still making) use of EU law both in ‘old’ EU countries and ‘new’ ones
(Nyikos 2007; Piana 2009).
In sum, Europeanization as a research agenda has managed to end the exhausted
debate between (neo)intergovernmentalists and neofunctionalists by widening the
research spectrum to previously under-researched topics such as the impact of EU
institutions and policies on domestic political systems. Of course, although highly
fashionable, this new research agenda has been striving to gain a well reputed scien-
tiﬁc standing since, over the years, some scholars started to question its analytical
validity or, more precisely, its theoretical value (Olsen 2002: 27) or innovativeness
(Radaelli 2004). As we shall see in the next sections (and also in other chapters of
this volume, namely Chapters 1 and 15), the Europeanization research agenda has
primarily reframed old questions regarding the mechanisms of European integration
and focused on the emerging relevance of the EU for national political systems.
But, before we take stock of the promises and pitfalls of Europeanization research,
let us turn to the main conceptual and theoretical issues which have been raised by
Deﬁning Europeanization: Conceptual Debates
The seminal contribution by Radaelli (2000) started a long-lasting debate on the ‘na-
ture of the beast’ which, in this case, is not the European political organization as in
Puchala’s analysis (1972) but the analytical devices used in order to study the EU.
From this standpoint, we are still in the middle of the ‘ontological’ phase in Europe-
anization studies since we can still ﬁnd many different deﬁnitions in the literature.
But before the deﬁnitional debate fully developed (late nineties) in the European in-
tegration literature there were some attempts to deﬁne the notion of Europeanization.
The ﬁrst acknowledged deﬁnition of Europeanization is the one provided by Ladrech
in his 1994 contribution where Europeanization is deﬁned as an ‘incremental process
re-orienting the direction and shape of politics to the degree that EC political and
economic dynamics become part of the organizational logic of national politics and
policy-making’ (Ladrech 1994: 69). By ‘organizational logic’ the author refers to the
‘adaptive processes of organizations to a changed or changing environment’ (Ladrech
1994: 71). A few years later, when the Europeanization literature was just about to
take off, in the ﬁrst systematic and comparative attempt to look at Europeanization
processes the deﬁnition of Europeanization became ‘the emergence and development
at the European level of distinct structures of governance, that is, of political, legal,
and social institutions associated with political problem solving that formalize inter-
actions among the actors, and of policy networks specializing in the creation of au-
thoritative European rules’ (Risse et al. 2001: 3). In 2003—in the ﬁnal version of
Radaelli’s above mentioned contribution—Europeanization was deﬁned as a set of,
processes of (a) construction (b) diffusion and (c) institutionalization of formal and in-
formal rules, procedures, policy paradigms, styles, “ways of doing things” and shared
beliefs and norms which are ﬁrst deﬁned and consolidated in the making of EU deci-
sions and then incorporated in the logic of domestic discourse, identities, political
structures and public policies.
(Radaelli 2003: 30)
Finally, in a ‘state of the art’ contribution, Vink and Graziano provided a broad deﬁ-
nition of Europeanization as a process of ‘domestic adaptation to European regional
integration’ (Vink and Graziano 2007: 7).
Bottom-up vs. Top-down
The ﬁrst deﬁnition captures the most innovative feature of Europeanization: the
domestic ‘adaptive processes’ connected to the ‘changed or changing [European]
environment’. In his study on France, Ladrech (1994) focuses on politics and insti-
tutions in a broad sense and carries out an empirical investigation of how the French
institutional setting has been affected by the increasing role of EU institutions. Nev-
ertheless, the deﬁnition seems to be particularly useful for institutional analysis
Paolo R. Graziano and Maarten P. Vink
rather than decision-making studies because of its privileged focus on the notion of
‘organizational logic’ rather than, more broadly, behaviour of political actors. The
second deﬁnition (by Risse et al. 2001) is strikingly similar to the (European) politi-
cal integration deﬁnition provided by Haas which is focused on the ‘loyalty shift’ to
the European level. But, as noticed by Radaelli (2000), we should not confuse Euro-
peanization with European integration since there would, in fact, be no need to in-
vent new concepts with old meanings. To be sure, the various contributions which
are inspired by the above mentioned deﬁnition treat Europeanization in ‘top-down’
fashion rather than in the advocated ‘bottom-up’ one, generating some conceptual
confusion notwithstanding the overall empirical richness of the study. The last two
deﬁnitions try to combine both set of processes (bottom-up and top-down) in order
to provide a more detailed (albeit complex) characterization of Europeanization. In
this respect, Radaelli’s deﬁnition is quite explicit since it embodies both the con-
struction and diffusion of a set of EU-related phenomena. In the Vink-Graziano deﬁ-
nition, the notion of ‘domestic adaptation’ draws heavily on the ‘adaptive processes’
researched by Ladrech. As stated in the discussion of the concept, ‘in order to study
Europeanization we need to start at the domestic level, analyze how policies or insti-
tutions [or other political phenomena] are formed at the EU level, and subsequently
determine the effects of political challenges and pressures exerted by the diffusion of
European integration at the domestic level’ (Vink and Graziano 2007: 7–8).
Conceptual Boundaries: What is not Europeanization?
To avoid the danger of conceptual stretching, as Radaelli (2003) rightly notes, we
need to specify not only what Europeanization is, but also what it is not. Europeani-
zation should not be confused with convergence, neither with harmonization, nor
with political integration. This can be clariﬁed as follows. Convergence can be a con-
sequence of European integration, but it must not be used synonymously with Eu-
ropeanization because there is a difference between a process and its consequences
(Radaelli 2003: 33). There may have been convergence in monetary policies towards
monetarist policy and away from Keynesianism in the member states that joined
European Monetary Union (EMU) (Sbragia 2001). Yet, European regimes may be
converging, as in the case of citizenship policies, however, not as a result of initia-
tives emanating from Brussels, but as a response to domestic considerations (Free-
man and Ögelman 1998). Harmonization of national policies is often seen as an
important goal of European integration, but empirical research suggests that Euro-
peanization is often manifest in a ’differential’ impact of European requirements on
domestic policies (Héritier et al. 2001). European directives aimed at harmonization
in, for example, gender equality policy, in effect often leave much room for contin-
ued national diversity (Caporaso and Jupille 2001). Understanding, ﬁnally, why
countries pool and delegate sovereignty (Milward 1994; Moravcsik 1998) is not
equal to understanding the speciﬁc dynamics, or even the unexpected consequences,
this process of political integration brings about at the domestic level.
In recent years, Europeanization research has moved beyond these conceptual
debates to a phase where ‘[m]ost scholars de facto favour a deﬁnition of Europeaniza-
tion either as the domestic impact of the EU, and/or the domestic impact on the EU’
(Flockhart 2010: 790). This does not mean that there is a universally shared accept-
ance of such deﬁnitions, but clearly much of the empirical work that has been car-
ried out over the past years departs from an understanding of Europeanization as a
process of both construction and diffusion of discourses, political strategies, institu-
tions, and public policies. Moving beyond these conceptual discussions has also al-
lowed the research agenda of Europeanization to move to a phase where there is
more explicit attention for methodological concerns. These concerns related in par-
ticular to the question of causality: how can we show that European integration
actually causes domestic changes? Haverland (2005) has been investigating the
methodological problems connected causality in Europeanization research, and,
more recently, Exadaktylos and Radaelli have taken stock of its (limited) research
design capacities (Exadaktylos and Radaelli 2009). To a certain extent, at least with
respect to the conceptual dimension, Europeanization has come of age.
Explaining Europeanization: Theoretical Debates
Europeanization may represent a new step in European integration theory (see also
Caporaso 2007). Surprisingly, however, more conventional studies of European in-
tegration and Europeanization studies have not often been clearly linked. And this
relates not only to Europeanization scholars, but also to those of European integra-
tion. It is, for example, remarkable that a recent article devoted to the development
of a ‘postfunctionalist theory of European integration’ does not even mention Euro-
peanization as a theoretical advancement in European integration research (Hooghe
and Marks 2009).
Although, theoretically, there may a striking continuity in European integration-
Europeanization studies, many authors seem not to address the issue and consider
Europeanization as a mere phenomenon which needs to be (domestically) ex-
plained. In fact, as Bulmer (2007) argues, Europeanization as such is not a theory
but rather a phenomenon that needs to be explained.
The theoretical added value of Europeanization lies primarily in the need to gen-
eralize on the mechanisms through which European political discourses, strategies,
institutions and policies have affected domestic political systems, i.e. have led to
political change. In this respect, Europeanization scholars have looked much into a
‘new institutionalist’ perspective (Goetz and Hix 2000). More speciﬁcally, it is well
known that institutional approaches put at the centre of their object of enquiry the
Paolo R. Graziano and Maarten P. Vink
role of institutions in decision-making processes and, more generally, in the func-
tioning of political systems; and institutions are classically understood as formal
rules, standard operating procedures, and governmental structures. From this stand-
point, Europeanization studies have mobilized all strands of the ‘new institutionalist
approaches’—historical, rational choice, and sociological (Hall and Taylor 1996).
Historical institutionalist analysis in Europeanization research has been at the heart
of several studies (Bulmer and Burch 1998; Bulmer 2009), in line with the other
historical institutionalist studies beyond Europeanization (Hall and Taylor 1996:
938). The main focus of this strand of research was—and still is—the analysis of the
sequences of domestic adaptations in connection to the evolution of European po-
litical discourses, strategies, institutions, and policies. Domestic political change—
limited or greater—is explained in connection to concepts derived from historical
institutionalism such as ‘path dependency’, ‘increasing returns’, ‘positive feedbacks’.
The rational choice orientation, strongly connected with more traditional studies of
European integration (Moravcsik 1993, 1998), emphasizes the increasing political
opportunities provided by European integration. Several studies have shown the
strategic organizational adaptation displayed by interest groups which, since the
early nineties, have tried to proﬁt from the new multilevel European power structure
(for further details, see Saurugger in this volume). Political change occurs primarily
when domestic political actors ‘rationally’ use European resources in order to sup-
port predeﬁned preferences. Finally, sociological institutionalism has been particu-
larly used in connection to the analysis of ‘cognitive’ Europeanization, i.e. changes
occurred in the mental frameworks of domestic political actors. The construction
and diffusion of EU ideas, and the socialization provided by EU institutions and
policies, have constituted a motor of change in their own right. Political change may
be less visible than in the other cases, but several authors have argued—especially in
those ﬁelds where the competences of the EU remain limited—that this form of Eu-
ropeanization may be as powerful as more conventional forms of Europeanization in
more ‘classic’ institutional and policy domains of the EU (Checkel 2001).
Goodness of Fit
If we turn to the theoretical relevance of Europeanization, however, what can be said
after over a decade of empirical research? Europeanization has by no means obtained
a strong theoretical status until now probably because it is more concerned with
domestic political change rather than EU political development. Therefore, Europeani-
zation has been used as an analytical approach to understand domestic changes,
being more relevant for country specialists and comparative politics scholars. In
fact, from this standpoint, some theoretical elements can be found in the Europeani-
zation literature, which regard speciﬁcally the mechanisms of domestic political
change. Probably the most interesting (and well investigated) theoretical contribu-
tions of the Europeanization literature regard, on the one hand, the ‘goodness of ﬁt’
and, on the other, the ‘mediating factors’ concepts (Risse et al. 2001). The goodness
of ﬁt hypothesis sets a clear link between the development of EU ‘institutional set-
tings, rules and practices’ and the possible ‘adaptational pressure’ exerted on the
domestic levels when the domestic ‘institutional settings, rules and practices’ differ.
More speciﬁcally, ‘the degree of adaptational pressure generated by Europeanization
depends on the “ﬁt” or “misﬁt” between European institutions and the domestic
structures. The lower the compatibility (ﬁt) between European institutions, on the
one hand, and national institutions on the other, the higher the adaptational pres-
sures’ (Risse et al. 2001: 7). We will thus expect domestic change, especially in those
cases where the ‘misﬁt’ is high and therefore the adaptational pressures are strong.
Even relevant adaptational pressures, though, do not trigger domestic change auto-
matically. Risse, Cowles, and Caporaso continue in their theoretical analysis and
suggest that, ‘in cases of high adaptational pressures, the presence or absence of me-
diating factors is crucial for the degree to which domestic change adjusting to Euro-
peanization should be expected’ (Risse et al. 2001: 9). They then continue by
identifying ﬁve mediating factors (three ‘structural’ and two related to ‘agency’):
multiple veto points; mediating formal institutions; political and organizational cul-
tures; differential empowerment of actors; and learning.
If we try to place these analytical tool—which can easily generate speciﬁc
hypotheses—in a broader theoretical framework, we can read Europeanization as a
possible theory of multilevel institutional change (in Europe) rather than a political
(i.e. European) integration theory. In fact, the above mentioned analytical framework
may ‘travel’ beyond Europe if we consider the European Union as a species of a
broader genus which is regional integration. Certainly, the EU as a regional institu-
tion has very speciﬁc features, such as a high degree of supranational authority,
which cannot easily be found in other parts of the world. Yet, if we consider that
adaptational pressures may differ signiﬁcantly as a function of the institutionaliza-
tion of a supranational entity, we could successfully study Europeanization as a vari-
ant of a broader, extra-EU trend of regionalization and apply similar analytical tools
for the study of other supranational political organizations, albeit less developed
than the European one. The prerequisite for a well equipped research strategy is to
mobilize competitive, sometimes counterfactual, explanations of possible change
(see Haverland 2007). Although not always easy to do, this exercise may strengthen
the empirical ﬁndings of any research devoted to the analysis of Europeanization (or
regionalization more in general) and its effects.
Worlds of Compliance
Building on these previous approaches, Falkner et al. (2005) and Falkner et al.
(2007) argue that existing theories to explain domestic compliance have weak ex-
planatory power and are, at best, only ‘sometimes-true theories’. Instead, a more
Paolo R. Graziano and Maarten P. Vink
context-sensitive approach is needed which explains why different compliance
mechanisms matter in different contexts. In particular, they argue that countries
cluster into different ‘worlds of compliance’: the world of law observance, the world
of domestic politics, and the world of transposition neglect.
In the world of law observance, abiding by EU rules is usually the dominant goal in
both the administrative and the political systems. The same is only true for the admin-
istrative system when it comes to the world of domestic politics. There, the process
can easily be blocked or diverted during the phase of political contestation. In the
world of transposition neglect, by contrast, not even the administration acts in a dutiful
way when it comes to the implementation of EU Directives. Therefore, the political
process is typically not even started when it should be
(Falkner et al. 2007: 407)
In a more recent study, Falkner and Treib (2008) compare the new EU member states
with the ﬁfteen ‘old’ member states that they investigated earlier and ask whether these
countries constitute a fourth world of compliance. The expectation, after all, could be
that the new member states might behave according to their own speciﬁc logic, such
as signiﬁcantly decreasing their compliance efforts after accession in order to take
‘revenge’ for the strong pressure of conditionality. They investigate four case studies—
Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia, and Slovenia—and conclude that all four new
member states appear to fall within their original third group, the ‘world of dead let-
ters’. See Box 2.2 for a discussion of the debate around the worlds of compliance.
Analysing Europeanization: Empirical Examples
In this section, we provide research examples covering both older and newer EU
countries, as well as non-EU countries (through the European Economic Area and
European Neighbourhood Policy), and focus speciﬁcally on Europeanization and
public opinion and parties, political institutions and governance, and public policy.
We also discuss methodological issues such as operationalization, the use of coun-
terfactuals, and different qualitative, quantitative, and mixed approaches.
If we focus on the main polity dimensions (governments, parliaments, bureaucra-
cies, political parties, interest groups, social movements, courts), we can under-
stand more easily how relevant Europeanization studies have been with respect to
the understanding of institutional change. Although the variance in research de-
sign makes general remarks on the empirical ﬁndings not an easy task, it is possible
to identify some basic trends which have been detected by the available literature.
With regard to organization of government, two main aspects have been investi-
gated: centre–periphery relations and the structure of the executives. The analysis
of centre–periphery relations has primarily shown that ‘the EU is not causing any
convergence between the member states [since t]he impact of the EU is strongly
BOX 2.2 The ‘worlds of compliance’ debate
Gerda Falkner, an Austrian political scientist, certainly struck a chord when she and her
collaborators presented a typology of different clusters of countries in the book Comply-
ing with Europe: EU Harmonisation and Soft Law in the Member States, published in
2005. This book is based on a large-scale qualitative project on the transposition, enforce-
ment, and application of six EU labour law directives in ﬁfteen member states. Although
both the comparative scope and the fact that ‘compliance’ was not restricted to just
transposition, as is the case with many Europeanization studies, highlighted the ambition
of the project, and the ‘worlds of compliance’ argument stood out as the most remarka-
ble part of the study.
The ‘worlds of compliance’ argument was clearly a provocative one and led to consid-
erable debate in the literature. On the one hand, it probably relates closely to intuitions
that scholars might have about the extent to which non-compliance is a cultural phenom-
enon. Even common-sense observers would not expect compliance processes to be
similar between, for example, countries from Catholic Southern Europe and those from
Protestant Nordic Europe. Yet, although Falkner et al. are careful to avoid reifying these
existing cultural stereotypes, their argument that countries with a ‘culture of good com-
pliance’ comply better comes dangerously close to a tautology.
Toshkov (2007) aims to break down exactly this problematic notion of ‘culture of
compliance’ into measurable components such as attitudes towards law-abidingness
and rule-following, and trust in EU institutions. He ﬁnds no direct relation with the three
types of worlds. He also ﬁnds that the three groups of countries differ only marginally
in terms of transposition delay, and concludes that additional work has to be done in
order to specify the causal mechanism distinguishing between the types. Thomson
(2009) uses the original dataset from Falkner et al. (2005) and shows that, contrary to
what Falkner et al. argue, the misﬁt hypothesis in fact does hold across the different
worlds of compliance: ‘medium and high levels of misﬁt are associated with a signiﬁ-
cantly lower risk of transposition at any given time point’ (2009: 14). He concludes that
the typology of three worlds of compliance does not appear to help better explain vari-
ation in compliance.
Gerda Falkner, Oliver Treib, Miriam Hartlapp, and Simone Leiber (2005) Complying with
Europe. EU Minimum Harmonisation and Soft Law in the Member States. Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press.
Dimiter Toshkov (2007) ‘In search of the worlds of compliance: Culture and transposition
performance in the European Union’, Journal of European Public Policy, 14/6: 933–54.
See also brief reply by Falkner et al. in same issue (14/6: 954–8).
Robert Thomson (2009) ‘Same effects in different worlds: The transposition of EU direc-
tives.’ Journal of European Public Policy 16/1: 1–18.
Paolo R. Graziano and Maarten P. Vink
mediated by pre-existing domestic power balances’ (Bursens 2007: 119) which
mostly means that strong—and not largely funded by EU policies—regions have
been empowered by the EU. Furthermore, a recent special issue of Regional & Fed-
eral Studies has also addressed the ways through which Europeanization opens up
new ‘spaces for politics’ and it also provides new political opportunities for non-in-
stitutional actors (such as social partners and NGOs) to perform institutional and
policy functions at the regional level (Carter and Pasquier 2010). The changing
structures of domestic governments have also been an object of empirical enquiry
over the past years. Again, despite the common development of new governmental
ofﬁces specialized in EU matters, research has provided unchallenged evidence of
institutional variance rather than institutional convergence towards a EU-driven
model. Another key research focus regarded the coordination modes in the various
domestic government structures. For example, Kassim identiﬁes two key dimen-
sions of variance in national coordination systems, namely coordination ambition and
coordination centralization. Putting the two dimensions on a grid produces four basic
coordination types: comprehensive centralizers, comprehensive decentralized, se-
lective centralizers, and selective decentralized (Kassim 2003: 92).
Also, political parties have been affected by Europeanization. Mair (2007) has
extensively discussed the mechanisms of penetration and institutionalization through
which Europeanization has exercised a direct or indirect impact on party politics
and party systems. More speciﬁcally, Mair (2007: 157) suggests that the Europeani-
zation literature on party politics has identiﬁed four possible (and empirically de-
tected) outcomes of Europeanization: the emergence of new anti-European parties,
or anti-European sentiments within existing political parties (such as in the case of
the Italian Lega Nord, Albertazzi and McDonnell 2005); the creation and consolida-
tion of pan-European party coalitions (Külahci 2010); the hollowing out of national
party competition, constraints on domestic decision making, and devaluation of
national electoral competition such as in the case of central and eastern countries
who accessed the EU in early two-thousands (Grabbe 2001); and the emergence of
alternative and non-partisan channels of representation, as in the analysis provided
by Beyers and Kerremans (2004).
The Europeanization of interest groups and social movements has also been an
increasingly researched topic in the literature. Although the general balance is
clearly in favour of interest groups rather than of social movements, there are some
noteworthy exceptions. In the analysis coordinated by Imig and Tarrow (2001),
Europeanization—somewhat in disguise since it focused on the European dimen-
sion of social movements’ activities—was already at the centre of their research
agenda. The ﬁndings show that social movements have not been particularly af-
fected by Europeanization with respect to their mobilization capacity, although they
have clearly contributed to building a European public sphere space (della Porta and
Caiani 2009). Interest groups were at the heart of the neofunctionalist account of
European integration, and also the Europeanization literature has been focusing on
the topic: recently two special issues were devoted to the European dimension of
interest group representation (Coen 2007; Beyers et al. 2008). The main ﬁndings
(also discussed in Eising 2007) demonstrate that Europeanization has strongly af-
fected interest groups by promoting new ‘political opportunities structures’ both at
the EU and at the national level. Recent research has further qualiﬁed the previous
research: in the words of Beyers and Kerremans, ‘although the EU creates many new
opportunities for domestic groups to adapt, Europeanization is not a natural or im-
mediate response’ (2007: 477). What becomes particularly relevant in explaining
EU-induced interest groups’ empowerment is the degree of dependency on govern-
mental or EU resources: the more dependent an interest group is on domestic re-
sources, the less ‘Europeanized’ it will be (Beyers and Kerremans 2007).
Europeanization has also affected the judiciary’s powers at the domestic level. As
with the other polity dimensions, the courts’ adaptation to European law has been a
differentiated one. Some courts have easily incorporated the supremacy of European
law (such as in the case of the Netherlands) whereas others ‘have yet to bow their
heads to the complete superiority of EC law’ (Nyikos 2007: 185). But why has such a
differential adaptation process occurred? In principle, all the courts could have bene-
ﬁtted from the reference to European law since it may provide further opportunities
for judicial empowerment. Empirical research, though, has shown that, in several
cases, domestic courts refer to European law and to the ECJ rulings primarily for or-
ganizational reasons since ‘outsourcing is desirable when actors within an organiza-
tion face problems that only appear infrequently and thus from which it makes no
sense that someone within the organization develops the knowledge necessary to con-
front them’ (Ramos 2002: 11). Furthermore, on account of the domestic variance in
legal traditions, in several cases domestic courts had to cope with growing inconsisten-
cies between European and national law and therefore a growing set of disputes arose
with reference to the compatibility of the two law sources—European and domestic.
These inconsistencies have led to greater domestic courts’ reference to European
law—thus increasing EU-induced changes in the functioning of domestic courts.
Finally, important research connecting Europeanization and enlargement has
been carried out by several scholars (see Schimmelfennig and Sedelmeier 2005;
Sedelmeier 2006) who have pointed out that the inﬂuence of EU candidate countries
in the context of eastern enlargement was greater than on member states, and was
conducive to some convergence—although the adaptation to the EU was differenti-
ated since diversity still persists ’both between eastern and western Europe and
within the new member states’ (Sedelmeier 2006: 14).
The political dimension which has been empirically investigated the most is the
domain of public policy (see also Bulmer and Radaelli in this volume). Following the
increasing competences of European institutions, numerous domestic policies have
been reshaped by the growing EU multilevel political system. Initially, mainly Euro-
pean ‘market-making’ policies (i.e. policies aimed at the development of a European
Paolo R. Graziano and Maarten P. Vink
single market) were concerned. Since the late eighties, virtually all domestic policy
areas have been affected by Europeanization. Clearly, the most developed EU policy
domains were also the policies which offered the most relevant opportunities and
constraints to domestic policy settings: agriculture, cohesion, economic, and envi-
ronmental national policies became increasingly linked to the evolution of EU deci-
sion making (Roederer-Rynning 2007; Börzel 2007; Bache 2007; Dyson 2007). Also,
in the case of public policy, domestic pressures gave birth to differential adaptation
processes at the domestic level. Furthermore, the policy domain has proven to be
probably the best case to test the ‘goodness of ﬁt’ hypothesis. More speciﬁcally, much
empirical research grounded in the new institutionalist process tracing approach,
has pointed out that a) the more binding the EU policies are (i.e. supported by ‘hard
law’ such as regulations and directives), the more probable it is—in cases of ‘policy
misﬁt’—for domestic policies to be subject to strong adaptational pressures; b) the
more ‘mediating factors’ (i.e. domestic actors such as governments, political parties,
interest groups, and the like) support EU policies, the more intense and rapid the
policy change will be. In fact, empirical ﬁndings in various policy areas have pro-
vided support for these overall hypotheses. More recently, policies regulated by ‘soft
law’ (such as recommendations and communications) have also been scrutinized,
such as social policy (Falkner 2007), and the results—although not unilateral—
have been consistent overall with the ‘goodness of ﬁt hypothesis’ (Thomson 2009;
Graziano et al. 2011). Also, other policies, which still lie at the heart of national
sovereignty, have been affected somewhat by the ‘Open Method of Coordination’
(explicitly or implicitly) which has been increasingly used in ﬁscal and foreign pol-
icy domains (Hallerberg et al. 2009; Wong 2007).
If we look at the existing literature on Europeanization, what is striking is the lim-
ited use of coherent research designs (Exadaktylos and Radaelli 2009). One key
problem of much of the Europeanization literature is what can be called an over-
determination of the European factor when explaining domestic change. In other
words: Europeanization researches focus too much on the importance of ‘Europe’
when explaining domestic change. Especially when looking at policy changes at the
national level, we should carefully try to distinguish Europeanization from, for in-
stance, developments which are embedded rather in a wider globalization process
(Graziano 2003). At the same time, plausible alternative explanations for domestic
change may not only be derived by looking beyond European pressures, but also by
taking into account endogenous processes within national political systems. A
change of government, to use a simple example, could well be a better explanation
for, say, a restriction of immigration policy than a still vague notion of ‘fortress
Europe’ (Vink 2005).
What matters for domestic actors and institutions is how the delegation to the
European level affects policy outcomes in the domestic arena. Put another way, who
are the winners and losers from the EU? At face value, such an approach would
imply that we need to look at domestic policy A, domestic institution B, or domestic
actor C, and analyse change in terms of policy substance, institutional set-up, or
political behaviour between the time before (t0) and after (t1) a speciﬁc European
dimension is introduced in a given policy area or a new European agency or coordi-
nation mechanism is created. In this way one can, as it were, analyse Europeaniza-
tion by observing the ‘net change’ at the domestic level between t0 and t1.
In reality, things are, of course, not so simplistic as increasingly intertwined politi-
cal systems make it difﬁcult to detect what causes what (Mair 2007). Yet, if one thing
becomes clear quickly it is that, even in this simplistic modelling, there is nothing
inherently ‘top-down’ about Europeanization research (see Figure 2.1). On the con-
trary, to assess the ‘net result’ of European regional integration without making that
European factor ‘a cause in search of an effect’ (Goetz and Hix 2000), domestic
change can only be accounted for by starting from a—hypothesized—domestic situ-
ation ex ante (the t0 situation). This means that in order to study Europeanization we
need to start at the domestic level, analyse how policies or institutions are formed at
the EU level, and subsequently determine the effects of political challenges and pres-
sures exerted by the diffusion of European integration at the domestic level (see
Börzel 2002: 193). Such a ‘bottom-up-down’ research design is probably the only
guarantee, if any, for a due consideration of the European factor as one of several
alternative explanations. In addition, as also visualized in Figure 2.1, Europeaniza-
tion needs to be understood not only as ‘vertical’ processes (bottom-up versus top-
down) but also as a ‘horizontal’ process. Such horizontal Europeanization results
from the fact that, in an integrated Europe, actors—civil servants, lobbyists, entre-
preneurs etc.—increasingly have cross-border contacts and exchange information
and expertise. In such a conception, Europeanization is not about a Brussels-
induced ‘top-down’ domestic adaptation, but rather about change induced by policy
learning and diffusion.
FIGURE 2.1 Europeanization: more than a two-way process
Country B Country CCountry A
European Regional Institutions
Paolo R. Graziano and Maarten P. Vink
Conclusion: Future Challenges in Analysing
Europeanization, despite its enduring ‘pitfalls’ (Lehmkuhl 2007), not only has come of
age but has also allowed European studies to better understand the politics of European
integration. By focusing on both the EU construction and domestic diffusion processes,
Europeanization has provided new analytical and empirical pathways to unveil the
dynamics of the EU multilevel political system. The current ‘post-ontological’ phase in
Europeanization studies may not have to focus on deﬁning what Europeanization is (or
is not) but still needs to become more sophisticated with respect to research design and
research methods, as brieﬂy discussed in the previous section. Cautiously designed and
comparative research efforts may allow Europeanization to move from the realm of
‘fashion’, and consolidate itself as a useful analytical tool which could ‘travel’ also be-
yond Europe by focusing on broader research questions such as institutional change,
policy change, (supranational) political development, and regionalization.
Currently, the most problematic, yet promising, challenge is twofold. First, to take
seriously the ‘uploading’ and ‘downloading’ dimensions of Europeanization. This im-
plies that the research focus cannot be conﬁned to the analysis of the impact of the
EU—as in the ﬁrst stages on Europeanization research, despite the bottom-up
deﬁnitions—but needs to develop greater links between the two (equally important)
sides of the Europeanization coin. Second, more sophisticated hypotheses linking these
two aspects need to be formulated. For example, what are the relationships between
preference formation and negotiation capacity at the EU level, on the one hand, and the
mechanisms of ‘downloading’ on the other? Put differently, sound hypotheses are
needed linking actors’ and institutions’ behaviour in both phases of Europeanization. By
enriching the research hypotheses, and going beyond the now well established ‘good-
ness of ﬁt’ one (which is primarily focused on the ‘downloading’ phase), Europeaniza-
tion research may mature even more and become even more promising with respect to
the understanding of European integration dynamics and consequences, and—beyond
the EU—shed new light on the growing regional integration research agenda.
Classic papers on the concept of Europeanization are by Radaelli (2000) and Olsen
(2002). For original theoretical arguments, see work by Knill and Lehmkuhl (1999) and
Green Cowles, Caporaso, and Risse (2001). For an overview of theoretical
discussions, see Bulmer (2007). Haverland (2005) is a good starting point for a
reﬂection on the key methodological issue of ‘causality’. Graziano and Vink (2007)
provide an overview of the core research questions and key ﬁndings in Europeanization
research. Chapters by Radaelli and Pasquier, and Bulmer and Haverland in that volume
are particularly useful overviews of conceptual, theoretical, and methodological
discussions. See also Box 2.1 with twelve key ‘Europeanization’ publications.
The most relevant website for issues relating to Europeanization is offered by the web
portal that brings together various online papers on EU studies, (http://eiop.or.at/
erpa/). Several of the published chapters and articles on Europeanization were ﬁrst
available at this site, notably as European Integration online Papers (EIoP). This is a
working paper series that has now been ofﬁcially recognized as a peer-reviewed
academic journal and is included in the authoritative Social Science Citation Index.
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New Research Agendas, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 239–52.
Benz, A. and Eberlein, T. (1999), ‘The Europeanization of Regional Policies: Patterns of
Multi-level Governance’, Journal of European Public Policy, 6/2: 329–48.
Beyers, J. and Kerremans, B. (2004), ‘Bureaucrats, Politicians, and Societal Interests:
How is European Policy Making Politicized?’, Comparative Political Studies, 37/10:
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Responses to Europeanization’, Journal of Common Market Studies, 40/2: 193–214.
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5050 Paolo R. Graziano and Maarten P. Vink
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