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H2020

ENLIGHTEN Report Summary

Project ID: 649456
Funded under: H2020-EU.3.6.

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - ENLIGHTEN (European Legitimacy in Governing through Hard Times: the role of European Networks)

Reporting period: 2015-04-01 to 2016-03-31

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

The Europe Union is and has over the last five years been, facing financial crises, acute imbalances, problems of macro-economic coordination, structural reform, questions of long-term fiscal sustainability and ‘rule of law’ crises. These entrenched and interdependent issues are pushing the limits of existing European modes of governance. Consequently, the efficiency and legitimacy of European integration mechanisms are being questioned just as the EU faces an unprecedented array and number of political challenges. To deal with these difficulties, the EU has both created new modes of governance and restructured existing ones. Accordingly, the direction and content of European integration is in a state of flux. The ‘European Legitimacy in Governing through Hard Times: the role of European Networks’ (ENLIGHTEN) project is contributing to a better understanding of the state of affairs by offering a novel framework to answer the question, ‘More Europe – less Europe?’ as articulated in the first section of the EURO-4 call on European integration.

The question of ‘More or Less Europe?’ draws our attention to established European modes of governance; such as the Community Method, the Open Method of Coordination, Intergovernmental Coordination, Executive Supranationalism, and Contractualization. In addition to understanding how these modes of governance are transforming, the ENLIGHTEN project suggests that an understanding of temporal issues is crucial to dealing with ‘hard times’ and for the legitimacy of the European project overall. ENLIGHTEN proposes a comparative perspective on Europe’s crises. ENLIGHTEN distinguishes between Europe's ‘fast-burning’ and ‘slow-burning’ crises and is comparing the ways in which EU policy actors have attempted to deal with them.

Fast-burning crises are those most obvious to us, such as the recent banking crisis, the austerity programs or sharp spikes in youth unemployment. Fast burning crises are moments and ongoing events characterized by alarm and an urgent demand for political action. Such crises are times when knowledge is ‘hot’ in addressing problems, where interests seek clear and applied ideas and models that can quickly put out the flames. These intense crises raise immediate legitimacy problems for Europe. Fast-burning crises throw European institutions and their functions into sharp relief, bringing to the fore political, social and economic interests to fight over how immediate problems should be addressed in the now. Fast-burning crises increase frustrations with the inadequacy of the EU’s governance architecture and their associated modes of governance, raising questions about structural reform from politicians, policy elites, the media, and the general public.

The ENLIGHTEN project argues that Europe’s fast-burning crises have indeed threatened, and continue to threaten, the legitimacy of European institutions and modes of governance, but that these challenges must also be viewed in a longer-term frame. What we term ‘slow-burning’ crises are also critical for differentiating what kinds of EU governance architecture and associated modes of governance enhance the legitimacy of the European project. Slow-burning crises extend beyond normal political and business cycles within Europe. They include issues such as the financial sustainability of Europe; how governments can continue to provide public services to their population; and the political, social, and economic consequences of chronic unemployment and underemployment. In slow-burning crises politicians are less vocal in raising alarm than during fast-burning crises and knowledge is ‘cold’ in the sense that experts consider and argue what constitutes good sciencein choosing the way forward and in addressing the issue at hand. In slow-burning crises, it is professionals in expert networks, rather than politicians, that offer diagnosis, pointing to problems and prompting the European governance architecture to address them.

Following this separation of fast- and slow-burning crises, the ENLIGHTEN project is targeting the following objectives:

MAPPING how European institutions and expert networks handle fast- and slow-burning crises. The project is examining how European institutions and expert networks both generate and receive input regarding policy problems and solutions in the appraisal phase. To address this objective we are (1) identifying which are the pivotal policy players in the EU policy process during slow- and fast- burning crises; (2) systematically comparing the diagnoses and solutions with which they have approached these crises; and (3) tracing the mechanisms through which their diagnoses and solutions have shaped policy.

DIFFERENTIATING how European modes of governance relate to fast- and slow- burning crises. The ENLIGHTEN project is differentiating how European modes of governance relate to fast- and slow-burning crises and the implications for the legitimacy and efficiency of governance. In fast-burning crises the chances are that policy insiders do crisis management. By contrast, because slow-burning crises evolve over long periods of time, these crises maximize the opportunities for contestation and deliberation and therefore include outsiders as well. To address the objective we are (1) establishing whether the management of short burning crises was dominated by insiders, whereas expert outsiders were involved in the management of slow-burning crises; (2) determining whether closed, insider-controlled modes of governance challenged established ideas or altered legitimation discourses more than did the open modes of governance observed in slow-burning crises; (3) identifying if particular modes of governance are more efficient in responding to the challenges presented by fast- and slow-burning crises. For example, some modes of governance employed to address fast-burning crises may be efficient but not effective over time, while others may have a greater capacity to combine efficiency and effectiveness.

ARTICULATING what modes of governance are best suited to addressing fast- and slow-burning crises. This entails: (1) how to find the middle way between effective and legitimate modes of governance; (2) how to reconcile diversity and flexibility that is associated with differentiation without placing greater stresses on European integration as a whole; and (3) how to identify new modes of governance which are politically acceptable and administratively feasible. The project is establishing a clear typology of how European institutions and networks can effectively and legitimately govern Europe through hard times.

This lens of map - differentiate - articulate - is being applied to a range of policy fields that are widely accepted as being critical to both the sustainability of Europe’s continent-wide coordinated governance architecture and the responsiveness of Europe’s continent-wide democratic polity. The three policy fields were chosen because they function as important signifiers of the implementation, effectiveness and legitimacy of the European governance architecture resulting from the recent crises. They are: (1) Banking Crisis and Fiscal Sustainability; (2) Deficit Reduction and Continuity of Public Services; and (3) Youth Employment and Inclusive Growth. The ENLIGHTEN research team are investigating changes in European modes of governance across fast- and slow-burning crises in these issue areas.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

The first period for the ENLIGHTEN project has been very productive. The key task for researchers in this period was to commence work on their case study material within their Work Package and within their respective ‘fast’ and ‘slow’ categories.

Research conducted thus far includes the further theoretical development of the project. ENLIGHTEN is premised on the notion that Europe is dealing with hard times not only in the crisis context but also with a series of long-term socio-economic problems. The concept of ‘fast-’ and ‘slow-burning’ crises underpins all of our work and discussions of how European modes of governance are transforming. The Work Packages (WPs) have successfully completed workshops to coordinate research design and provide conceptual clarity. Research on particular cases has blossomed in the first phase of project (see Figure 2).

WP1
Efforts in Work Package One have concentrated on theoretical developments, which are backed by empirical investigation of how European modes of governance responded to the financial crisis, the role of European financial reform, and how European member states applied bailout packages to financial institutions. For example, Vivien Schmidt’s Think Piece (D1.1) traces how the ideas and discourses of European governance are slowly transforming as institutions respond to the economic and financial crisis. Other work in WP1 has concentrated on theories of legitimacy -and how European modes of governance engage ‘input’, ‘throughout’, and ‘output’ processes – as well as the role of the rule of law in Europe’s changing governance landscape, which places more stress on executive forms of authority. Theoretically-rich work in this stream has also developed the notion of how power and ideas work together, with power over ideas, power in ideas, and power through ideas. These concepts are being applied to studies of the European Semester, conditionality in Program countries, new ideas in Investment Plans, and Quantitative Easing.

Deliverables
- How to Theorize Democtratic Legitimacy in the Eurozone Crisis
- Epistemic power over ideas after a fast-burning crisis – the case of the ecology of Brussels-based think tanks
- From one European semester to the next
- Power and changing modes of governance in the Euro crisis

Milestones
Agora workshop (kick-off workshop June 2015) – European Legitimacy in Governing (Are hard times the mother of invention – Enlightening European Responses to Fast- & Slow-burning Crises)
WP1 workshop due in month 11 was delayed due to Brussels terrorist threat in November 2015.

WP2
Work Package Two has developed empirical cases on financial sustainability. The researchers have each developed their cases, focusing on the European Semester and the Macroeconomic Imbalances Procedure (MIP), changes in financial regulation, the rapidly changing landscape for European tax policy, and who is important in central banking networks dealing with shadow banking issues. Research on these topics has already led to three journal publications, with a collaboration between the Copenhagen Business School and Tax Justice Network leading to an article in the British Journal of Politics and International Relations (available as D2.1). Other articles include work on tax activists and experts in Europe (published in the Journal of European Public Policy), and on expert networks around shadow banking in the EU and the US (forthcoming in the Review of International Political Economy). Ongoing research on the MIP considers changes in Belgium, France, Germany, and the Netherlands. Continuing work on tax expert networks is addressing the role of large accountancy firms and tax lawyers. Connections between these themes within WP2, and across the work packages, are being established for the second and third phases of the project.

Deliverables
- The Finance Curse: Britain and the World Economy
- Powering ideas through expertise: professionals in global tax battles

Milestones
Agora workshop (kick-off workshop June 2015) – European Legitimacy in Governing (Are hard times the mother of invention – Enlightening European Responses to Fast- & Slow-burning Crises)
WP2 Workshop (June 2015)

WP3
Work Package Three is developing cross-national and cross-sectoral comparisons on public service restructuring, applying the concept of fast- and slow-burning crises. The research team in WP3 are assessing these changes through deep investigations of changes in healthcare and housing in European member states. This research is particularly concerned with the healthcare sector in France, Ireland, Hungary, and the United Kingdom, and the housing sector in Denmark, Hungary, Ireland, and the Netherlands. The Think Piece (D3.1) outlines these comparisons and the application of the ENLIGHTEN theoretical framework. Research on these cases continues and will be integrated as we move into phase two of the project.

Deliverables
- Housing and Health in Fast- and Slow-Burning Crisis

Milestones
Workshop (Sept. 2015)

WP4
Work Package Four is concerned with youth unemployment and inclusive growth. As with the other WPs, research for WP4 has concentrated on case development during this first phase of the project. The Think Piece (D4.1) discusses the evolution of youth unemployment in Europe and the challenge it presents to the social legitimacy of the European Union. Research is also developing on intra-European Union migration, including youth migration, as well as the presence of skill gaps and challenges to retaining skills in particular European member states. Demographic challenges within Europe, and how expert networks address them, are also being studied.

Deliverables
- Youth Unemployment and the Legitimacy of European Governance

Milestones
Workshop on WP (June 2015)

WP5
In Work Package Five the Impact team has been busy in providing information to the public, to stakeholders, and hosting events for public debate. The instigation meeting in June 2015 was very successful connecting the academic and non-academic partners in the project (who are actively collaborating on research matters), as well as with external stakeholders interested in the project. A further meeting in Boston in April 2016 brought ENLIGHTEN to an American audience. The WP5 team also successfully had a collaboration with the Council for European Studies, which has led to a film to be released on their website on the ENLIGHTEN home page. The project website - http://enlightenproject.eu/ - is now being hosted by ULB, after an initial period of being based at CBS. It provides extensive content on the ENLIGHTEN project, as well as public access to our think pieces and publications.

Deliverables
- Website: http://enlightenproject.eu/
- Set of Research Briefs detailing ENLIGHTENS Research Agenda

Milestones
Agora workshop (kick-off workshop June 2015) – European Legitimacy in Governing (Are hard times the mother of invention – Enlightening European Responses to Fast- & Slow-burning Crises)

WP6
Finally, the Management Team in WP6 have steered the project successfully, with no major issues or problems in how the grant is proceeding.

Network and Sequence Methods Workshop at CBS, Oct. 2015. All WP were represented.

Steering Committee Meeting at CBS, February 2016.

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

We have been positively surprised in how quickly the language of “fast- and slow-burning crises” has been adopted in our discussions with members of the European Commission, the European Parliament, external stakeholders, and even from our research subjects. Our theoretically oriented work pushes the ideational literature forward in the fields of political science and sociology, especially in explicitly discussing the relationship between power and ideas. Our work also challenges and advances European Studies and Welfare Studies by questioning how European modes of governance are changing how crises are being handled in national systems, as well as the new tendency for authorities to monitor and report on economic and social change within Europe. Our research on expert networks is applying novel methods - including content, network, and sequence analysis - to uncover which actors are important in framing how problems should be treated, and indeed what issues deserve most attention. Naturally our scholarly impact will follow the publication of ENLIGHTEN’s research, and our cases will continue to develop in the second and third phases of the project.

On societal impact, we expect to provide a strong contribution to the European policy debate. Part of this contribution is in offering new concepts in the policy language, as well as providing tools for assessing who is important in expert networks and what ideas they are likely to promote. As the project develops further we will also contribute through our detailed case knowledge, which will help us address the serious fast- and slow-burning crises in Europe.

Finally, we stress that the collaboration between the academic and non-academic partners in ENLIGHTEN has been crucial to our success thus far. These partnerships are enhancing our research. And through our non-academic partners’ policy and advocacy networks ENLIGHTEN will have a significant impact on policy discussions of great concern to the European public.

Related information

Record Number: 192986 / Last updated on: 2016-12-13
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