When national politics spill over into EU decision-making

Christine Reh co-edits issue of the Journal of European Public Policy on EU responses to politicisation and Euroscepticism. 

Recent crises have put the European Union under unprecedented functional pressure and political attack, testing the endurance of its multi-level system to its limits. In parallel, the Union’s policies and institutions have become contested and politicised across all member states. A special issue of the Journal of European Public Policy, co-edited by Hertie School Professor of European Politics and Dean of Graduate Programmes Christine Reh, along with Edoardo Bressanelli of Dirpolis Institute, Sant’Anna School in Pisa, Italy, and Christel Koop of King’s College London, UK, explores how and why EU institutions respond to such “bottom up” pressure.

Collectively, contributors to the issue, EU actors under pressure: politicisation and depoliticisation as strategic responses (February 2020), show that the behaviour of actors at the supranational level is based on how they perceive and process pressures from domestic politics. Their decision-making and policy choices depend on whether EU-level actors perceive domestic politics as “enabling” or “constraining,” the editors write in their introduction.

Much of the debate about the long-term consequences of domestic politicisation has focussed on the constraints from Euroscepticism, the authors write in their introduction. Instead, there is room for a wide variety of responses at the EU level. Some responses limit and depoliticise EU action, others expand and politicise what the EU does, especially in response to salient policy problems and citizens’ preferences. “In a nutshell, we propose – and our contributions show – that domestic politicisation will not lead to ‘the end of integration’ but to a variety of supranational responses, ranging from restrained depoliticisation to assertive politicisation,” the editors write.

The collection focuses on a range of EU institutions—including the European Commission, the Court of Justice, the Central Bank and Europe’s governments in Council.


Read more in the special issue here

More about Christine Reh

  • Christine Reh , Dean of Graduate Programmes and Professor of European Politics