Bursens, Peter, and Deforche, Jana. (2007) Europeanization of subnational polities: the impact of domestic factors on regional adaptation. In: UNSPECIFIED, Montreal, Canada. (Unpublished)
[From the introduction]. The purpose of this contribution is to test whether hypotheses derived from rational choice and sociological institutionalism can predict the way subnational authorities adapt to specific European policy initiatives. In order to do so, the paper uses the classic three step model of Europeanization research (cf Risse et alii 2001, Caporaso 2007). This model starts from the observation that the European integration process delivers a substantial amount of policy output at the European Union level. Especially within the supranational policy areas, EU output generates pressure upon the member states to respond to European policy initiatives. Put differently, in a second stage this pressure creates a degree of fit or misfit between the European and the national level. There is, however, no linear relation assumed between the European and the national level. In a third step, several intervening or mediating variables shape the eventual way the domestic level adapts to the European pressure. Although there’s much criticism to putting the goodness of fit concept central to a Europeanization research design (Heritier and Knill 2001; Haverland 2000), we argue that its use is justified in our particular design because we are dealing with two binding European policies that clearly require the domestic (including the subnational) level to adapt in terms of policy-making and policy-content (Börzel 2005: 51-52; Bulmer 2007: 52). The degree of fit or misfit defines the adaptation pressure and ultimately the way domestic politics responds. Institutional theory becomes relevant with respect to the mechanisms through which the domestic factors shape the adaptation. Based on an institutional framework, hypotheses can be formulated as to how domestic variables influence the adaptation process. In the next paragraph we will formulate such hypotheses with respect to how the Flemish Region responds to pressure from EU environmental and agriculture laws.
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