Responsive withdrawal? The politics of EU agenda-setting

This contribution asks whether and why the newly political environment of EU law-making impacts on the European Commission's choice (not) to announce the withdrawal of legislative proposals. Christine Reh, Edoardo Bressanelli and Christel Koopargue that the Commission uses ‘responsive withdrawal’ in response to bottom-up pressure, so as to signal self-restraint or policy-determination to different audiences. Bottom-up pressures are driven by (1) the national contestation of ‘Europe’; (2) visible controversy about optimal (crisis) governance; and (3) the domestic salience of EU legislation. Our hypotheses are tested on a new dataset of all codecision files concluded, withdrawn, rejected or ongoing between 2006 and 2018. We show that the Commission reacts to bottom-up pressure by either politicising or depoliticising the EU's legislative agenda: ‘withdrawal announcements’ are more likely when Euroscepticism is high and when legislation touches core state powers, but less likely when legislation is domestically salient. We also demonstrate the continued importance of cyclical and technical reasons. Their analysis complements extant explanations of withdrawal as the upshot of functional factors or of uncertainty, and contributes to the nascent debate about whether, why and how supranational actors respond when the systems in which they operate – and the policies they produce – come under attack.

Christine Reh, Edoardo Bressanelli & Christel Koop (2020) Responsive withdrawal? The politics of EU agenda-setting (Journal of European Public Policy), DOI: 10.1080/13501763.2020.1712453

Image: CC Pixabay, Source: Pexels