Thesis

The role of actors in the legitimation or delegitimation of MLG structures: A claims-making analysis of the politicisation and depoliticisation of EU state aid policy

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Abstract

The politicisation and depoliticisation of EU policies such as state aid are key to the legitimation and contestation of the EU. However, the existing literature tends to focus on analysing these processes either in terms of politicisation or depoliticisation, but rarely both simultaneously. Rather, this thesis conceptualises politicisation and depoliticisation as embodying a fluid-like state within Multilevel Governance (MLG) structures, such as the EU, where agents play a key role. The thesis first explores 266 state aid cases labelled "Unlawful with Recovery of Aid" (UWRA) to identify which were appealed, and to gauge the degree of news coverage that each case gained. From the analysis of the 266 cases, the dissertation selects the cases of Apple in Ireland and Ilva in Italy for sustained and detailed analysis. It explores how actors have sought to politicise and depoliticise these state aid cases in the national news media. A claims-making analysis is performed to understand how actors attempt to legitimise or delegitimise their own actions or the actions of the other actors involved (the Commission, Apple, Ilva and the Irish and Italian governments). To perform the analysis, a set of 100 newspapers were gathered from the Factiva database, including two leading quality newspapers (centre-left and centre-right) from Ireland (the Irish Times and the Irish Independent) and Italy (Il Sole 24 Ore and La Repubblica). The results show that a key moment in the trajectory of both the politicisation and depoliticisation of a state aid case is the act of appealing by the member state. More specifically, in the Apple case, TINA (There Is No Alternative) was used as a strategy to discursively depoliticise the action of appealing which, interestingly contributed to the overall politicisation of the state aid case. In contrast, other depoliticising strategies ("appeasing" claims) which intended to calm past tensions between the Italian government and the Commission were used successfully. In terms of politicisation, the Apple case showed an "international conflict trajectory" (Irish government versus the Commission) while the Ilva case raised concerns about the Italian government and the management of the corporation. Overall, this dissertation advances understandings of the differentiated patterns of politicisation and depoliticisation by illustrating that the Apple case followed the "politics against policy" route while this was avoided in the Ilva state aid case.

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How does economic interdependence shape political relations? We show a new pathway to support a commercial peace in which economic interdependence changes strategies for conflict management. The uncertainty arising from political disputes between countries can depress trade flows. As states seek to protect trade from such negative effects, they are more likely to bring their disputes to legal venues. We assess this argument by analyzing why countries bring cases to the International Court of Justice (ICJ). Using data on 190 countries from 1960 to 2013, we find that countries are more likely to file ICJ cases against important trading partners than against states with low levels of shared trade. We conclude that economic interdependence changes the incentives for how states resolve their disputes.
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After twenty‐five years, few scholars still dispute the leading role of Liberal Intergovernmentalism (LI) in theorizing EU history. Yet some question whether it can explain Europe's recent evolution. This article argues that LI retains its place as a ‘baseline’ integration theory. It is uniquely able to provide credible micro‐foundations of EU decision‐making, which even theories ostensibly critical of LI borrow. It offers a richer set of innovative opportunities for forward‐looking extension than is often thought. Compared to competitors such as Post‐Functionalism and Historical Institutionalism, LI generates more consistently satisfying empirical accounts of recent EU policy‐making, particularly with regard to the outcomes that ultimately matter most, namely substantive policies. And it remains a trustworthy guide to normative evaluation, for example on the issue of democratic legitimacy. The future of integration theory lies in creatively elaborating LI and, where possible, crafting more rigorous syntheses with alternative accounts.
Chapter
Societal depoliticisation refers to disenchantment with politics at the electorate level. Societal depoliticisation, however, is studied conceptually; thus, empirical studies about its determinants or the association between societal and “conventional” depoliticisation remain largely unclear. Using party identification as an indicator of societal depoliticisation, this chapter tries to explain the decline in partisanship/party identification among Cypriots. The Republic of Cyprus is an European Union (EU) country that had the highest levels of party identification. However, the period between 2006 and 2012 saw a dramatic decline. Relying on survey data and additionally employing literature review and qualitative interviews with citizens to give meaning to the correlation found in the survey analysis, this chapter shows that political dissatisfaction played a significant part in the drop in party identification in Cyprus.
Chapter
This chapter reviews the existing literature on depoliticisation and assesses its utility for exploring the contingent nature of this phenomenon. In essence, it makes two claims. First, while a number of contrasting definitions exist in the scholarship on depoliticisation, they can be grouped under two main headings: (a) as a systemic condition that imbues the whole of society; (b) as a more specific governing strategy that originates at the state level but then influences groups at the societal level. Second, while both these approaches have much to commend them, they suffer from limitations when it comes to making sense of the unpredictable and potentially reversible nature of depoliticisation as a process. Systemic accounts are too broad and all-encompassing, appearing to offer very little space for depoliticisation to be resisted. Conversely, a conception of depoliticisation as a governing strategy is too narrow. Focussing as it does on state elites and how they propagate this form of political rule, this definition of depoliticisation neglects the importance of societal actors, who are surely most likely to pose a challenge to such a governing technique. The chapter concludes by listing a range of questions designed to help the contributors to this volume explore theoretically and empirically the dynamics of depoliticisation.
Book
This book investigates the extent to which depoliticisation strategies, used to disguise the political character of decision-making, have become the established mode of governance within societies. Increasingly, commentators suggest that the dominance of depoliticisation is leading to a crisis of representative democracy or even the end of politics, but is this really true? This book examines the circumstances under which depoliticisation techniques can be challenged, whether such resistance is successful and how we might understand this process. It addresses these questions by adopting a novel comparative and interdisciplinary perspective. Scholars from a range of European countries scrutinise the contingent nature of depoliticisation through a collection of case studies, including: economic policy; transport; the environment; housing; urban politics; and government corruption. The book will be appeal to academics and students across the fields of politics, sociology, urban geography, philosophy and public policy.