How two-level entrepreneurship works: A case study of ratcheting up a Europe -wide employment strategy
European institutions have in recent years increased their competence in the field of employment policy. This dissertation analyses why and how the European Commission was finally successful in increasing its competence in this field. This dissertation details the precise mechanisms by using the context of the development of employment policy since the early 1990s on the level of the European Union.
The explanation offered links the literature on policy analysis and two-level entrepreneurship with the formal and informal roles of the European Commission. The thesis argues that the timing and content of Europe-wide employment measures was crucially influenced by a multi-step ratcheting process orchestrated by the Commission. This process aimed at gradually representing and activating latent interests within the Member States and thereby succeeded in eventually winning all Member States over to the cluster of countries which supported Europe-wide employment measures.
This argument contrasts with the theoretical predictions made by two of the dominant approaches in the field of European integration: neofunctionalism and liberal intergovernmentalism. Neofunctionalists attribute independent causal influence over EU policy development to supranational institutions that are working closely with transnational actors and thereby are capable of swaying Member States' decisions. In contrast, liberal intergovernmentalists believe that only Member States, fully aware of their domestic economic and political interests, are central in the negotiation and agreement on the details of policy developments. The findings of this dissertation suggest that a simple model of either supranational influence or national influence does not fully explain the inclusion of employment title into the Treaty of Amsterdam.
Additionally, the argument developed in this dissertation contrasts with two sets of explanations offered in the literature: The first set of explanations regards the employment policy as a collective solution to a common economic problem in Europe. The second set of explanations maintains that Member States were pressured to add a social and political dimension due to a generally more critical public opinion. Empirical analysis of both sets of explanations, however show that the results are counter-indicative to the generally hypothesized relationship, but instead quantitatively supports the two-level entrepreneurship model.
The findings of the thesis highlight the forces and factors that determined political change in employment policy just as much as the thesis contributes to an analysis of the logic and structure of European integration under the institutional conditions of the multi-level European polity.