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Agencies in EU Foreign Policy: RELEX-Agencification

Final Report Summary - RELEX-AGENCIFICATION (Agencies in EU Foreign Policy: RELEX-Agencification)

This project has examined a widespread, yet under-researched, trend in European politics, namely the transformation of European foreign policy through processes of ‘agencification’. The project hypothesised that increasing number of tasks are being delegated to European agencies.
This significant and fast-developing trend, which is set to continue in the future, raises many important questions. The rapid development of the AFSJ in recent years has led to an expansion of the scholarly literature on this topic, including legal analyses. However, with its focus on policy outputs and the role of the main EU institutions, this literature has, overall, tended to largely overlook the role played by European agencies (in the broad sense) in the AFSJ. With regard to the literature on European agencies, which has been mainly developed by public policy and legal scholars, it remains overall rather limited, especially compared to the literature on US agencies.
This project outlined why were these agencies were created in the first place, why they were endowed with particular authority or autonomy at the outset, and for some agencies, how they were later modified. What are thus ‘interest shapers’ for member states, as well as ‘normative dynamics’.
Interest shapers are the factors that form the preferences of the actors that make decisions about the development of agencies in the AFSJ. This includes, for example, Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) and European Commission officials, as well as the representatives of the Member States interacting in the Council. Interest shapers include the spillover-enlargement effect’, crises and shocks, as well as concerns for pragmatism, national sovereignty and ‘democracy’. The salience of these forces can be examined by researchers to determine what drives actors to create particular agencies in the AFSJ and endow them with certain attributes. It is also necessary to pay attention to ‘institutional dynamics’. Here, we refer to phenomena that help explain, along with interest shapers, how and why the AFSJ and its agencies have developed in recent years, as well as their future direction. Such institutional dynamics are entrepreneurship, path-dependency, and bureaucratic resistance. Concerning entrepreneurship, Kaunert has developed an analytical framework for supranational policy entrepreneurs (SPEs), which can be used to help explain the development of agencies in the AFSJ. This model is valuable because it can account for changing preferences among decision-makers, including why they might support new initiatives in the AFSJ despite concerns for national sovereignty. In addition, there is another kind of institutional dynamics that should be considered here, namely path-dependency. As a widely used component of historical institutionalism, path-dependency refers to the phenomenon whereby prior institutional developments shape later ones. Although path-dependency does not necessarily cause the development of new agencies in the AFSJ, it can explain why SPEs promote some initiatives and why decision-makers accept them. More specifically, the preferences of these actors regarding the AFSJ may be formed by interest shapers, but how they choose to respond to these new interests is constrained by path-dependency. The third set of phenomena associated with institutional dynamics deals with ‘bureaucratic resistance’. Unlike entrepreneurship and path-dependency, which deal with how and why choices are made, bureaucratic resistance pertains mainly to the potential gap between these decisions on policies or agencies and the actual outcomes.

The Research Fellow has successfully executed the research project according to the work plan previously established, including the reviews of the literature. A theoretical framework has been elaborated. Primary documents on the EU Area of Freedom, Security and Justice (AFSJ) and on the relevant agencies (Frontex, Europol, Eurojust, amongst others) have been systematically gathered – not only publicly released documents,but also some documents that necessitated a formal application to the EU institutions or were only made available through personal contacts in the EU institutions. Interviews of EU officials have taken place (Brussels, Warsaw, Malta, Italy, Spain, etc), whilst avenues for more research have opened as a direct result of this research project, and hitherto unknown for research, and will take place after the end of the project, so that the data gathered during the project can be corroborated again. The Research Fellow has also considerably developed his knowledge in European studies and has strengthened his inter-disciplinary research skills by acquiring new expertise in European public policy and European Foreign and Security Policy.
The various activities undertaken by the Research Fellow, in particular his participation in various international conferences and his fieldwork preparations, have also allowed him to further develop a range of complementary transferable skills, such as project management, budget management, teamwork and leadership. Prof Christian Kaunert, as indicated in the workplan of the MC project, has worked towards obtaining, and has achieved the promotion to a Full Professor position – Chair in International Politics. He has now been further promoted - he has been appointed as Academic Director and Full Professor at the Institute for European Studies, Vrije Universities Brussels (