Work Package I – University of Copenhagen

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The work package deals with how European policy-makers conceptualise the changing global economic order, and how the place and role of ‘Europe’ is understood in the context of that order. It is also concerned with how two fundamental dilemmas (‘market versus democracy’ and ‘competitiveness versus cohesion’) are conceived and relate to policy formulation at the EU level in this context.

Extant research on globalisation has produced at least two insights of great importance to this WP. First, detailed empirical research has shown that there is considerable reason to question the veracity of many policy claims made about globalisation (Garrett 1998, Hirst and Thompson 2001, Hay 2006).  Of course European policy-makers have continued to make policy premised upon (potentially dubious) claims about globalisation, which in turn means that the real world made by policy might actually come to resemble the world initially described by globalisation discourse (Hay and Rosamond 2002). So a second strand of research has paid attention to discourses of globalisation, how those discourses take on nationally and institutionally specific forms, how they change over time and how they embody a variety of claims about technical logics of consequence (‘what needs to be done’) and normative logics of appropriateness (‘what should be done’).

Sub-projects of Work Package I

A)    The first sub-project is entitled ‘European constructions of the new global economy in historical perspective’. The project has two parts. First, it will develop for the first time a historical genealogy of the ways in which the EU-level policy makers of conceptualised the global economic environment over time (the timespan of the study will be extensive, 1950-2012). Second it will conduct a comparative study (2-3 member state cases) of the emergence of discourses of the new global configuration, relating these to understandings of the global crisis and to the presence of national institutional variables.

B)     The second sub-project is entitled ‘Beyond neoliberalism? The economic thought of the European Commission in the new global configuration’. The emphasis of this sub-project is on the intellectual frameworks used by policy practitioners. The aim is to assess the degree to which Chicago school neoliberalism operates as a paradigm in EU policy circles, thereby providing a test of the ‘strange non-death of neoliberalism’ thesis (Crouch 2011). The study will examine, through a mixture of actor network analysis, interviews and qualitative textual analysis, the traction of neoliberal policy frames within a range of key Directorates General of the Commission.

C)    The third sub-project is entitled ‘The EU regulatory state and the new global economy in a time of uncertainty’. It will examine the policy-making interface between post-crisis global economic uncertainty and the configuration of the EU’s regulatory regime. The precise framing and methodology will emerge in the context of the results obtained in the first two subprojects. A likely empirical focus of the project will be the emergence of EU-level action to regulate the activities of financial institutions.