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Archive for octubre, 2014

oct. 27 2014

Three mechanisms of policy rescaling

Michael Keating suggests an extremely relevant distinction when featuring the “rescaling of the European state” as “ the migration of functional systems, identities, and institutions to new levels”. This concept can be read as the presentation of three different mechanisms of policy rescaling. Mechanisms are causal patterns which are enacted in some contexts.

The current political and academic arguments on the currency area and the free trade agreement make reference to the migration of functional systems. On the one hand, many economists have blamed the institutional design of the currency union for the sovereign-debt crisis to the extent that policy-makers have failed to design and implement a reliable fiscal union, which in their view must underpin a currency union. On the other hand, the proposal to sign a free trade agreement between the EU and the US has been challenged on the grounds that a sound economic policy should nowadays localise as many activities as possible and engage in resolute de-financialisation.

Apparently, the varying attachment of identities has to do with democratic disaffection and the search for more accountable and responsible authorities. Thus, some political parties vindicate the strengthening of member states’ competencies vis à vis the Union, since the legal basis of the European Commission, the European Council and the European Parliament entail significant democratic deficits. At the same time, some regions pursue their independence from their respective member states in other to become new members of the EU on their own. These latter movements claim for new democratic decision-making procedures on the very limits of the ‘demos’.

Finally, institutions themselves migrate. The Europe 2020 Strategy keeps a frail equilibrium with the undergoing ‘energy transitions’ in France and Germany and the reliance of Eastern countries on carbon as far as renewable sources, emissions and efficiency are concerned. The European Central Bank is the new last resort lender beyond the former national banks, but the officials of the German Central Bank address severe criticism to its policies. Labour and education policies respond to an even more complex rescaling insofar as their framework goals are established in Brussels by means of the Open Method of Coordination, member states are accountable through the data base of benchmarks constructed by Eurostat, and regional and local governments are often expected to build territorial coalitions to align these goals with regional economic development.

In the end, these social changes are also influencing sectoral boundaries in the whole continent. Not only education and employment policies, but also macro-economic, trade, energy, transportation and other policy sectors are being connected in innovative complex ways. While Europeanisation brings this effect about at the upper level, simultaneous and disparate trends of both devolution and centralisation are doing so at the level of sub-state politics.

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