Workshop report: Is European Integration happening on the ground?

How do member states get together to solve common challenges at the EU level? Is there any room for improvement in order to deliver better policies? And, more importantly, is European integration actually happening on the ground?

by Rafael Schmuziger Goldzweig

These and other questions were discussed at the presentation of the European Governance Monitor (EGM) in a workshop co-hosted by the Dahrendorf Forum and the Representation of the European Commission in Germany. Further to the presentation of the EGM framework and its results by Dr. Julie Anna Braun, Dahrendorf Post-Doctoral Fellow at the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin, experts from European and national institutions, academia and public sector consulting shed light on the work of the Monitor and shared their perceptions and experiences on how European integration happens – or not – through the process of co-governance.

Representing the European Commission, Dr. Thomas Kaufmann, Senior Economic Advisor of the European Commission in Germany, shared his views on the European Semester Process. He explained how the process evolved in recent years towards a more strategic set of recommendations addressing the need of specific structural reforms rather than a more comprehensive list of reforms, such as it was being done in the beginning of the European Semester in the aftermath of the Euro crisis.

Dr. Franziska Brantner, member of the parliamentary group Bündnis90/The Greens at the German Bundestag, emphasized the importance of fostering policy conversion towards common legislation, something that rarely happens as an outcome of participation in policy networks. From the DG Employment perspective, Dr. Krzysztof Nowaczek pointed out the importance to connect the analysis of networks with the process of the European Semester, emphasizing that what matters in this process is actually what the member states do with what they learn in these events.

As a member of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) Unit at the German Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, policy advisor Angelika Schenk shared her first-hand experience in participating in European policy networks. In her view, an important aspect to analyze regarding how a member state participates in networks relies on whether a country has the required administrative capacities to benefit from them. Other aspects such as language and cultural barriers may prevent the participants from the benefits of participating in them. Sharing an academic perspective, Dr. Mallory Compton, Postdoctoral Researcher Successful Public Governance Project at the Utrecht University School of Governance, suggested next steps for the Monitor, asking whether there exists a causal relation between the network activities and the indicators of the areas they address.

Finally, Adrian Brown, Executive Director of the Centre for Public Impact, shared his experience in developing a measurement of successful and failed policies around the world. According to him, there are three components for successful policy making: policy, legitimacy and action. In analyzing the Monitor, he recognized two of these components, but suggested that legitimacy should not be forgotten.

The workshop, which was moderated by Professor Mark Hallerberg from the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin, was welcomed with enthusiasm by participants in the room and followed by a fruitful questions and answers session.

Here you can find the workshop booklet about the results of the European Governance Monitor: European Governance Monitor