From Friends to Foes : Institutional Conflict and Supranational Influence in the European Union

University dissertation from Uppsala : Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis

Abstract: The aim of this thesis is to rethink the way we study supranational influence in the European Union. Through an in-depth engagement with the processes which led to two of the most controversial rulings of the European Court of Justice in the 2000s the thesis seeks to redefine the analytical tools we bring to the study of institutional conflict and supranational influence in the EU. In the first case, which arose in the field of Justice and Home Affairs (JHA), the European Commission convinced the Court that criminal sanctions should be made available as an implementation tool for Community legislation. In the second case, arising in the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP), the Court recognized a competence for the supranational development policy in the field of weapons proliferation in third countries. Thus, in spite of intense protests from the Council and the Member States, the Commission was able to bring two issues of principal importance from the intergovernmental areas of EU decision making in to the supranational framework of the EU. The thesis argues that the generally formulated assumptions regarding agents and institutions on which existing theories rely make them unable to make sense of the seemingly conflicting dynamics of the processes that led to these outcomes. The thesis contributes theoretically by developing an alternative analytical framework that is able to identify the previously unacknowledged social mechanisms that help explain why institutional conflict erupted and why the Court ruled in favour of the Commission in these cases; a framework which can be of relevance for EU studies and the study of international political orders more generally. The mechanisms identified also carry theoretical implications for sociological institutionalist and constructivist theorization of institutional change. Empirically the thesis contributes by supplying detailed insights in two defining moments in the development of the JHA and the CFSP.

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