Welcome to this course
Great that you are joining us! In this course you will learn about the fascinating process of European policy-making and implementation. Before you start studying we invite you to go through our introduction module first. Please introduce yourself on the forum to meet your fellow learners. If you encounter any difficulties while studying, please let us know on the forum. For technical difficulties or questions regarding the course certificate, you can always contact the Coursera Learner Helpdesk. Good luck and we hope you will enjoy studying in this course!
Understanding policy and the European policy process
The course starts by introducing the main concepts such as policy and the policy process, and includes a discussion of what decision-making is. It is shown that in making a decision the decided outcome is not always the most socially desirable state of affairs. This is important to understand in order to appreciate the imperfections of decision-making at the various levels of the European policy process. Furthermore, we explore the European multi-level policy process, as a starting point for the more specialized lectures in the subsequent weeks. In this week, students are also introduced to the policy dossiers to make their choice.
Focusing on EU decision-making, the main question is: what can go wrong in the European decision-making process over legal measures? The lectures pay attention to the role of sectoral interests in the EU, and time. Policymakers often seem to be in a hurry, which may impact the choices that are made. Furthermore, in the last lecture we turn our perspective to the international context within which the EU operates. International agreements, for example, can be yet another source for further European legislation.
Once legal measures have been adopted, the question arises as to what will happen next? For EU directives, the formal requirements need to be transformed into national legislation by member states. We discuss both a legal and a policy perspective on transposition, which provide rather different perspectives on this work. Adopted legal measures may also require further specification, which brings us to the preparation and adoption of delegated and implementing acts. For these acts the European Commission plays an important role. Finally, we look into the role of the European Commission as an actor overseeing transposition in the member states. Does the Commission act as the ‘guardian of the treaties’?
What can go wrong with implementation? In this week, we focus on the main causes of policy failure and success by discussing three different groups of theories. These address systemic features, such as time, capacity and culture, institutional or normative features related to groups and behavioral features. Each group of possible features is briefly explained and discussed in the lectures. Furthermore, attention is given to the involvement of regional and local governments in the implementation of European policy within member states, which provides yet another challenge to European policy implementation.
Redesigning EU policymaking
Having experienced the European policy process from European lawmaking to regional and perhaps local implementation, the last week reflects on ways to improve EU policymaking. How can EU policy, but also the policy process be redesigned? What is currently discussed in Brussels? And what are the options? The students will first be introduced to the Better Regulation Agenda of the European Commission, which also aims to improve policymaking. Three different directions of change are discussed in the lectures: (a) the ambition to close the European policy cycle by connecting ex-post evaluations with consultations and impact assessments as tools to prepare for new legislation; (b) introducing more experimentation to obtain better results, and (c) focusing on decentralization as a way of bringing back policymaking power to member states, regional governments or even local government.