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Cover Comparative Politics

22. The Impact of Public Policies  

Jørgen Goul Andersen

This chapter examines the effects of public policy. It first considers economic paradigms and approaches to welfare and documents the overriding historical changes in approaches to the economy, from Keynesian ideas of macro-economic steering to more market-oriented economic perspectives. It then explores the idea of institutional complementarity, as expressed in the typologies of welfare regimes, varieties of capitalism, and flexicurity. It also looks at some of the empirical analyses of the effects of welfare policies and the tension between welfare and economic efficiency. Finally, it looks at policy feedback, path dependence, policy learning, social learning, policy transfer and policy diffusion, and policy convergence.


Cover European Integration Theory

6. Rational Choice and Historical Institutionalism  

Mark A. Pollack

The European Union (EU) is without question the most densely institutionalized international organization in the world, and the body of literature known under the rubric of ‘the new institutionalism’ has been applied with increasing success to the study of the Union as a polity and to European integration as a process. This chapter examines rational choice and historical institutionalism and their contributions to EU studies. Following a brief introduction, it traces the origins of rational choice and historical institutionalism, both of which explore the role of institutions in political life, albeit with different emphases. Next, it turns to the EU, exploring the ways in which scholars have drawn on institutionalist theories to understand and explain the legislative, executive, and judicial politics of the EU, as well as the development of EU institutions and policies over time. An in-depth case study applies institutionalist theory to the task of explaining the origins of the Eurozone sovereign debt crisis as well as the EU’s response. Historical institutionalist theory, the author suggests, generates important insights into the suboptimal design of the original Maastricht EMU provisions, as well as the EU’s incremental response and the suboptimal outcome of the crisis. The author concludes by suggesting that institutionalist theories offer a variety of valuable insights into the design, effects, and development of EU institutions, while at the same time remaining compatible with other theoretical approaches in the EU scholar’s toolkit.


Cover The Institutions of the European Union

11. The institutions of Economic and Monetary Union:  

from the euro crisis to COVID-19

Dermot Hodson

Since 1999, a subset of EU member states—known collectively as the euro area—has delegated exclusive competence for monetary policy to the European Central Bank (ECB), while giving limited powers to the European Commission, ECOFIN, and the Eurogroup in other areas of economic policy. The euro crisis provided the first major test of the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU), as a sovereign debt crisis spread between member states and threatened to tear the single currency apart. The ECB and two new institutions—the European Stability Mechanism and Euro Summit—helped to keep the euro area together but at significant economic and political cost. EU institutions were better prepared for the initial economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, but the crisis still produced important institutional changes. The COVID-19 recovery fund Next Generation EU gives the Commission and Council a major new role in economic policy, albeit a temporary one for now. The EMU illustrates three key dimensions of EU institutional politics: the tension between intergovernmental versus supranational institutions, leaders versus followers, and legitimacy versus contestation. It also reveals the explanatory power of new institutionalism among other theoretical perspectives.