The Search for Convergence of National Policies in the European Union: An Impossible Quest?

Antoaneta Dimitrova, Bernard Steunenberg

Research output: Working paperProfessional

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This paper addresses the question of whether European integration results in convergence in the domestic politics of EU member states. Some recent studies claim that as a result of European integration the national policies of the member states are becoming more alike. The introduction of various exemptions and 'flexibility' arrangements in the Treaties of Maastricht and Amsterdam and ever growing problems with implementation seem to contradict this view. In this paper we offer a model based on insights from public choice, game theory and analytical politics, which aims to explain the conditions under which convergence may occur and the limitations to this process at the legislative and implementation stage of European policy making. At the legislative stage, our model highlights the difficulty for the Council, deciding by unanimity, in setting a uniform policy, particularly when current policies in the member states differ considerably. At the implementation stage, we account for implementation problems by focusing on the differences in view held by national political actors with regard to EU legislation. We conclude that convergence will occur only when the Union is able to set a common policy without any exemptions, which is then fully implemented by national political actors.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationEnschede
Number of pages39
Publication statusPublished - 1999

Publication series

NameNEMEU Working Paper
PublisherNetwork on Enlargement and new Membership of the European Union (NEMEU)


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