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Cover International Relations Theories

15. International Relations Theory and Globalization  

Colin Hay

This chapter examines the existing debate on the extent and nature of globalization and its implications for contemporary International Relations theory. It first considers the stakes involved in the globalization debate for a range of core theoretical perspectives in IR. It shows how the literature on globalization has developed over time, revealing how the nature of the debate has changed, and illustrates this both theoretically and empirically with a case study of the impact of globalization on the development of the welfare state before and since the global financial crisis. The chapter also considers the empirical case against the globalization thesis, what a competition state is, and how it might confer a competitive advantage upon a national economy in an era of globalization. The chapter suggests that the current level of interdependence within the international system, although considerable, is not easily reconciled with the stronger variants of the globalization thesis.

Chapter

Cover Policy-Making in the European Union

6. Competition Policy  

The Politics of Competence Expansion

Mark Thatcher

This chapter examines the European Union’s competition policy. It shows that the EU’s legal powers in general competition policy—over restrictive practices, abuse of a dominant position, mergers, state aid, and state monopolies—are very extensive and highly supranational with few direct controls for national governments. The chapter then studies two views of the application of these powers—that they have been used in a more ‘neo-liberal’ manner in recent decades or that they continue to provide scope for industrial policies of supporting European champion firms. It underlines that the Commission has been an active and central player in policy-making, together with the European Court. But all actors operate in a wider context of large powerful firms as well as experts and practitioners in competition policy. The chapter concludes by analysing how the economic crisis after 2008 has reignited debates about altering the criteria for policy to give more place to aims other than protecting competition, to offer more space to national policy-makers, and to provide greater scrutiny and accountability for the Commission, as well as greater action to deal with the new ‘digital tech giants’, but that these encounter significant obstacles.