«A thesis submitted to the Department of Political Science and International Studies of the University of Birmingham for the degree of Doctor of ...»
My contention is that as a result of the process of European integration European and EU borders have been transformed. This transformation, however, is not objectively given and does not reflect independent reality where borders have essential characteristics and can be defined in a value-free way. Instead, the current EU borders are an outcome of the struggle between different visions of how the inclusion/ exclusion issues should be solved. Furthermore, importantly, one should take into account that these different visions will tend to emphasise different configurations of borders, thus, constructing specific representations of how have borders been transformed. For example, the Commission tends to emphasise the construction of common spaces in the EU, thus implying that there is a tendency to de-bordering. It is only through examination of discourses that these visions and representations can be unveiled and studied. This analysis is carried out in the empirical parts of the study. However, if I am going to focus on how Commission discourse configures borders, I have to spell out how I think the Commission is able to exercise important influence on the bordering 49 practices in the policy areas under investigation. I also need to specify what types of borders the Commission is able to influence and how it does that.
2.3.2. How does the Commission influence EU border-constructions?
As I showed in the Literature Review, the question of whether the Commission is able to exercise independent influence over the process of integration in the EU is a highly contested one. Given the close link between borders and integration, this argument is central to the study because it relates directly to the Commission‟s ability to sway the struggles on bordering practices in its preferred direction. Therefore, an investigation into the ways in which borders are configured in the discourse of the Commission requires me to show how the Commission is able to exercise significant influence over the negotiation of the EU bordering practices. In this section, I address this issue.
Following the position of Neo-functionalists, my contention is that the Commission is able to perform entrepreneurial functions and therefore, it can influence the way EU borders are configured. Such an ability of the Commission, however, is dependent on a particular understanding of “integration” as a process. Under such a perception, the capacity of the Commission to advance its preferred positions derives from what Nugent has referred to as “a strategic position” 126 of the Commission in the institutional architecture of the EU. As I outlined briefly in Chapter One, the empirical part of the study investigates four policy areas – border controls, free movement of people, social policy and ENP. As the empirical chapters show, the Commission has contributed to the configuration of all the major types of borders (internal, external, territorial, or identity). This is an evidence for the far-reaching repercussions of the articulations of the European Commission. Nevertheless, as a result of the pillar structure of the EU, the powers and competences of the Commission in these areas are different. Thus, the scope of the Commission influence in the configuration of borders varies. The Commission is most influential in the areas that fall under the first pillar (border controls, free movement of people, and some social policy issues) where its main responsibility is to be legislation initiator. In the first pillar it is the only institution that performs this function. In other policy areas (ENP, border controls prior to 2001), 126 Neill Nugent, „The Leadership Capacity of the European Commission‟, Journal of European Public Policy, 2: 4 (1995), pp. 603-623, p. 612 50 in which the Commission is the implementer of the EU policies, its influence is smaller.
It is sometimes regarded as the bureaucracy, the public administration body of the Union responsible for “the implementative, delegative part of the central government.”127 This is because in accordance with the duties it is charged with under the Treaty of Rome, it scrutinises the transposition and implementation of primary treaty articles and secondary legislation into the national law of the member states. If there are delays or incorrect transposition of EU legislation, the Commission can take the member state responsible to the ECJ. Also, the Commission manages the EU budget.128 It is through using these prerogatives that the Commission influences the decision-making system in the second and third pillars. Although such influence is bound to fall short of setting the long-term trends and norms, 129 it still allows room for exercising discretion. For example, as Coombes argues: “administrative decisions may involve deciding whether or not to enforce particular regulations on the basis of the facts of the case, applying policy to particular circumstances, or interpreting a policy which is expressed only in very general terms.”130 Importantly, by utilising such implementation prerogatives, the Commission has in some cases managed to enhance its standing on non-first pillar issues, which has put it in a good position to sway the decision-making. For example, its management of the Community budget has been of crucial importance for the establishment of the Commission as an actor in Community foreign policy in its own right. Even under the European Political Cooperation the Commission was the one responsible for the conception and management of Community aid programs. Partly it is as a result of the Commission having performed these responsibilities that the Western Economic Summit Meeting in July 1989 127 David Coombes, Politics and Bureaucracy in the European Community (London: George Allan and Unwin Ltd, 1970), p. 116 128 The summary of the executive functions of the Commission is based on Simon Hix, The Political System of the European Union (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005), p. 40. For a more thorough analysis of the implementation role of the Commission, especially regarding the spending programmes of the EU see Roger Levy, „Managing the Managers: the Commission‟s Role in the Implementation of Spending Programs‟ in Neill Nugent (ed.), At the Heart of the Union – Studies of the European Commission (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1997), pp. 203-225.
129 For such arguments see for example, Simon Hix, The Political System of the European Union (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005), esp. Ch. 2 and David Coombes, Politics and Bureaucracy in the European Community (London: George Allan and Unwin, 1970) 130 David Coombes, Politics and Bureaucracy in the European Community (London: George Allan and Unwin, 1970), p. 237 51 entrusted the Commission with the coordination of international assistance efforts to Poland and Hungary. Subsequently the program was extended to other Central and Eastern European Countries (CEECs). According to Nuttall, the role the Commission played in the events in Europe in 1989 and early 1990s “conferred on it greater political weight”.131 Thus, even on issues that currently fall outside of the first pillar, the Commission has over the years managed to secure an important place for itself.
Therefore, by using the different kinds of prerogatives it is charged with, the Commission can exercise its influence through various means, thus also contributing to the transformation of EU borders. Nevertheless, it is on first pillar issues that the Commission is in the best position to exercise its leadership. The various ways through which the Commission gains its leverage are well summarised in the contributions of Nugent132 and Pollack.133 Some of the important powers they identify are that the Commission is able to set the agenda for the decision-making process in the EU; it is charged with ensuring the proper functioning and development of the common market, it is the first point of contact regarding ideas and initiatives, it is a leading repository of knowledge and expertise about EU policies, it is widely regarded as the “conscience” of the Union. 134 Following these findings about the ways in which the Commission is well placed to influence the process of renegotiating the EU bordering practices, below I outline the main ways in which this happens. I pay particular attention to the different types of Commission influence in the various pillars under which the policy areas under investigation in this study fall. This outlines the main mechanisms through which the Commission influences the configuration of EU borders.
So far I have argued in favour of the following points. Firstly, that as a result of integration (among other things), borders are being transformed. Secondly, I have 131 Simon Nuttall, „The Commission: the Struggle for Legitimacy‟ in Christopher Hill (ed.), The Actors in Europe’s Foreign Policy (London: Routledge, 1996), pp. 130-147, p. 143 132 Neill Nugent, „At the Heart of the Union‟ in Neill Nugent (ed.), At the Heart of the Union – Studies of the European Commission (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1997), pp. 1-26; Neill Nugent, „The Leadership Capacity of the European Commission‟, Journal of European Public Policy, 2: 4 (1995), pp. 603-623, Neill Nugent, The European Commission (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2001) 133 Mark Pollack, „Delegation, Agency and Agenda-Setting in the European Community‟, International Organization, 51: 1 (1997), pp. 99-134; Mark Pollack, „The Commission as an Agent‟ in Neill Nugent (ed.), At the Heart of the Union – Studies of the European Commission (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1997), pp. 109-128; Mark Pollack, „The Engines of Integration? Supranational Autonomy and Influence in the European Union‟ in Wayne Sandholtz, Alec Stone Sweet (eds), European Integration and Supranational Governance (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998), pp. 217- 249 134 Neill Nugent, „The Leadership Capacity of the European Commission‟, Journal of European Public Policy, 2: 4 (1995), pp. 603-623, pp. 605-613 52 advocated an understanding of integration as a process that implies a continuous, dayto-day involvement and effects of it. Thirdly, an understanding of borders as a social construction that is an outcome of the struggles of the various ways in which inclusion/ exclusion issues are resolved. These battles are expressed through discourses of various actors, one of which is the European Commission. Following the above definition of integration, the Commission, which is sometimes referred to as “the heart of the Union”135 is advantaged when it comes to advancing a particular way for settling the struggles over inclusion/ exclusion in the EU.
The major way in which this comes about is by the Commission setting the agenda for the decision-making process. Pollack makes a distinction between formal and informal agenda setting. The former refers to the existing constitutional and legal arrangements, while the latter is the ability to define issues and present proposals that can gain the support of the final decision-makers. 136 As far as the formal agenda-setting function of the Commission is concerned, according to Pollack, the Commission: “may, under certain circumstances, enjoy considerable agenda-setting power … namely in those circumstances where it enjoys the exclusive right of initiative …” 137 Thus, a major way in which the Commission can resolve inclusion/ exclusion disagreements in its preferred directions is on those issues that fall under the first pillar where it has exclusive right to propose legislation. In practice other institutions (such as the Council of Ministers) have important input in the formulation of the official proposals, which among other things involves bargaining between institutions on the inclusion of their preferred policies in the official legislative proposals in various policy areas. 138 Despite that, the formal powers of legislative initiative vested in the Commission inevitably give it a strong starting point in this process.
Perhaps from the point of view of the formal agenda-setting powers of the Commission this is most obvious through the fact that being the sole legislation initiator allows the Commission in the words of Nugent to have a: “very significant impact on what policy issues are considered by the formal decision-takers, in what terms they are 135 See for example the title of Neill Nugent (ed.), At the Heart of the Union – Studies of the European Commission (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1997) 136 Mark Pollack, „Delegation, Agency and Agenda-Setting in the European Community‟, International Organization, 51: 1 (1997), pp. 99-134, pp. 121-128 137 Ibid., p. 124 138 Leon Lindberg, Stuart Scheingold, Europe’s Would-be Polity (New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, 1970), pp.
87-98 provide a good illustration of that.
53 considered, when they are considered, by whom they are considered, and with what receptivity they are considered.”139 Thus, following the reasoning of Neo-functionalists, in the renegotiation of the bordering practices in the areas of free movement of people, border controls (after 2001), some aspects of social policy, the Commission can facilitate the decreased salience of internal borders by wording its proposals in a particular way, by submitting them at time, which is favourable for their acceptance and subsequent adoption, or by framing a specific issue as related to achieving the aims of the single market. As the analysis in the empirical chapters of the research will show, the employment of such tactics can be easily seen in the discourse of the European Commission.