Title: Europeanisation from a neo-institutionalist perspective : experiencing territorial politics in Spain and Romania
Other Titles: Europeaniseringproces vanuit het perspectief van het neo-institutionalisme : regionale en territoriale ontwikkelingen in Spanje en Roemenië
Authors: Dobre, Ana
Issue Date: 25-Oct-2007
Abstract: Europeanisation from a Neo-Institutionalist Perspective: Experiencing Territorial Politics in Spain and Romania
The aim of this doctoral study is to investigate and explain the emergence of the phenomenon of regions’ institutionalisation in two different national and historical contexts, namely Spain and Romania during their respective democratic transitions and EC/EU pre-accession periods. For Spain, we concentrate on the period from 1976 to 1986, which corresponds to end of the Franco regime, the transition to democracy and the EC pre-accession process. For Romania, we analyse the period from 1990 to 2007, which refers the end of the communist regime, the democratic transition and the EU pre-accession process.
The key research questions to be investigated are: What factors or variables determine the internal institutional change (or lack of change) towards the institutionalisation of regions during the EU enlargement process? Under which conditions can we expect change towards the regions’ institutionalisation? Is this phenomenon caused either by external EC/EU pressures and requirements for institutional reform, or by domestic institutions and actors’ interests and norms? Or is it generated by the interplay between these external and internal variables for change?
In order to answer these questions, we have constructed a theoretical and methodological framework that would be useful for the empirical data analysis and which is based on the combination between different strands of literature, namely Europeanisation, comparative regionalism and new institutionalism (rational-choice, historical, and sociological). The purpose was to identify in this literature a number of hypothesised variables or conditions for domestic change that may explain the regions’ institutionalisation in the two selected EC/EU candidate countries. In the process of identifying these conditions, which cause change or uphold stability in the state institutional and territorial structure during the EU enlargement process, we focussed on the EC/EU external conditionality in the regional and territorial policy field and on domestic national and subnational elements of explanation.
First, we hypothesised that domestic institutional change is supposed to happen either in response to the EU pressures, be it material or normative pressures, or as a usage of the EU, without necessarily the presence of an important frame of external conditionality.
Secondly, from a rational-choice new institutionalist perspective, it was hypothesised that institutional change depends on the presence of “formal institutions” and of “veto players” opposed to territorial reforms.
Thirdly, from a sociological new institutionalist perspective, it was expected that the regions’ institutionalisation is likely to take place in the presence of “norm agents”, a “cooperative-type of political culture” and/or a “legitimating discourse” in favour of regionalisation.
Fourthly, from a historical new institutionalist perspective, it was hypothesised that the phenomenon of regions’ institutionalisation is likely to occur in the presence of the “historical regionalism state tradition” and of a “path-setting sequence” favourable to territorial and regional reforms.
In methodological terms, this doctoral study subscribes to a case-oriented methodology, also known as the comparative method. It follows the method of “comparing few countries”, focussing therefore on a small number of cases chosen “purposefully rather than at random” and which generally supposes the use of qualitative analysis. In operationalising the qualitative comparative method, we mainly used a number of sources of evidence namely: archival records, documents, interviews and direct observation during our field work. We have constantly cross-checked these different types of data.
In terms of results, we have tested, confirmed and disconfirmed the hypothesised explanatory power of the selected new institutionalist variables and we have come to the following conclusions.
In Spain, we assert, in light of the test of the work hypotheses against the empirical data, that the phenomenon of regions’ institutionalisation is explained by (1) the ethnic-nationalist state tradition, (2) the initial path-setting sequence towards the institutionalisation of regions (the pre-autonomy and the constitutional autonomy system), (3) the reform supportive internal institutions, (4) the important action capacity and access to decision-making of norm agents, promoters of regionalisation and autonomy, (5) the cooperative, consensus-building political culture between the representatives of Spanish nationalism from the central establishment and the representatives of ethnic-nationalist regionalism, (6) the domestic discourse favouring territorial and regional reforms, associated with democracy and peaceful transition, and (7) the weak action capacity and restrained access to decision-making of veto players. This internal domestic conjuncture favourable to the regions’ institutionalisation was as well externally strengthened by the presence of supportive external EC institutions.
The Romanian case of regions’ institutionalisation is explained by a combination of causal variables such as: (1) the material and normative EU conditionality, (2) the blocked access of veto players to the national decision-making system, (3) the emergence of a prevailing consensual type of domestic political culture and relations between the centre and the periphery, (4) the incipient existence of formal institutions providing the basis for regional development and assuring the possibility for cooperation between the different state territorial levels, and (5) the emergence of a dominant legitimating discourse which associated the regions’ institutionalisation to economic development and successful EU accession
Accordingly, in light of the comparative analysis approach, we have come to the conclusion that not all the causal variables selected from the literature have an explanatory power in both cases. The comparative analysis confirms and thus
allows us to make modest theoretical generalisations about the causal links between the dependent variable under investigation and the following explanatory variables. First is the presence of a consensual political culture between centre and periphery. Second is the existence of formal institutions which can provide interested actors with the necessary means for regional and territorial reforms and for regional development. Third is the prevailing presence of a discourse favouring the regions’ institutionalisation and legitimising the minorities’ autonomy claims. Fourth is the existence of a feeble or blocked access to decision-making of veto players. Both cases agree on these four variables, by which we understand that these variables are the causes of the phenomenon under investigation. From the angle of this generalisation, we can assume that whenever these causes or conditions occur, then, their combined effects produce change towards the regions’ institutionalisation.
Finally, this doctoral research has thus contributed to both the refinement and development of theoretical propositions derived from new institutionalism, but also to the refinement of the literature on Europeanisation and comparative regionalism. It has also contributed to empirical knowledge related to the comparative analysis of domestic territorial and regional reforms in two candidate countries, Spain and Romania in the double context of democratisation and adaptation for EC/EU membership.
Table of Contents: Contents

List of Tables
List of Annexes
List of Maps
List of Abbreviations

1 Introduction 17
1.1. Europeanisation and Regionalisation in the EC/EU Enlargement Frame 17
1.2. The Research Interest and Questions 26
1.3. Plan of the Thesis 28
2. The Theoretical and Conceptual Framework: The Research Design 31
2.1. Introduction 31
2.2. New Institutionalisms 31
2.2.1. Clarifying Theory: The New Institutionalist Conceptions of Change 33
2.2.1.A. Rational-Choice Institutionalism 34
2.2.1.B. Historical Institutionalism 37
2.2.1.C. Sociological Institutionalism 43
2.2.2. Heterogeneity or not –The Plea for a Theoretical Dialogue 45
2.3. Applied New Institutionalism: Reviewing Europeanisation and Comparative Regionalism 51
2.3.1. Defining the Concept of Europeanisation 53
2.3.2. Clarification of Concepts from the Literature on Regionalism 57
2.3.3. The Literature Overview: Mechanisms, Outcomes, Explanatory Variables 63
2.3.3. A. The Mechanisms of Change and Compliance 64
2.3.3. A.a. The EU Mechanisms in the Literature on Europeanisation 65
2.3.3. A.b. The Mechanisms of Change in the Literature on Regionalism 70
2.3.3. B. The Outcomes of Domestic Institutional Change 71
2.3.3.B.a. The Outcomes of Change in the Literature on Europeanisation 71
2.3.3.B.b. The Outcomes of Change in the Literature on Regionalism 74
2.3.3.C. The Domestic Variables: Explaining the Outcomes 77
2.3.3.C.a. The Intervening Variables in the Literature on Europeanisation 78
2.3.3.C.b. The Independent Variables in the Literature on Regionalism 89
2.3.3. D. Conclusions, Choices: Opening the Way for the Research Design 93
2.4. The Research Design 97
2.4.1. Theory: What Model of Institutionalist Approach? 97
2.4.2. Conceptual Choices 100
2.4.3. The Research Theoretical Propositions 109
2.4.3.A. Set of Propositions about the EU External Explanatory Variable 109
2.4.3.B. The Set of Propositions about the Internal Explanatory Variables 110
3. The Methodology: The Research Methods 113
3.1. Introduction 113
3.2. Research Strategy: The Qualitative Comparative Method 113
3.2.1. The Use and Justification of Comparison 113
3.2.2. The Comparative Research Design 118
3.2.3. The Case Selection: Why Spain and Romania? 123
3.2.3.A. Rough Similarities 125
3.2.3.B. Differences and Contextual Specificities 128
3.2.4. Inherent Limitations of the Method and Solutions 130
3.3. Data Collection 132
3.3.1. The Choice for Data Collection Methods 132
3.3.1.A. Interviewing 133
3.3.1.B. The Field Work: Finding the Information Sources 136
4. The Institutionalisation of Regions in Spain 142
4.1. Aims and Structure of the Chapter 142
4.2. The Explanatory Value of the Domestic Causal Variables 144
4.2.1. The Explanatory Value of the Historical State Tradition – Between State Centralism and Peripheral Nationalisms 144
4.2.2. The Explanatory Value of the Consensual Political Culture Variable 149
4.2.3. The Explanatory Value of the Path-Setting Sequence Variable 155
4.2.4. The Explanatory Value of the Norm Agents’ Variable 161
4.2.5. The Explanatory Value of the Discourse Variable 165
4.2.6. The Explanatory Value of the Formal institutions Variable 168
4.2.6.A. The Formal Institutional Arrangements and Structures 168
4.2.6.B. The Distribution of Powers and Competences 169
4.2.6.C. Other Supportive Formal Institutions 171
4.2.7. Beyond the Initial Consensus: The Development of the Estado de las Autonomias 174
4.2.8. The Explanatory Value of the Veto Players’ Variable 181
4.3. The Explanatory Value of the EC Conditionality Variable 186
4.3.1. The EC Material and Normative Frame of Negotiations 187
4.3.1.A. The EC General and Specific Regional Policy Conditionality 187
4.3.1.B. The EC/EU Negotiations’ Frame for the Regional Policy Chapter 190
4.3.2. The process of Internal Adaptation 193
4.3.2.A. The General Internal Background 193
4.3.2.B. The Adaptation of the State Level 196
4.3.2.B.a. The Institutionalisation of New Forms of Cooperation 196
4.3.2.B.b. The Legal Frame as Response to the EC Conditionality 200
4.3.2.C. The Extent of EC Influence on the Regional Level: Intra-state and Extra-state Channels for Regional Access to EC Affairs 202
4.3.2.C.a. Institutionalisation of Regional Organs in Response to EC Requirements 203
4.3.2.C.b. Extra-state Channels 204
4.3.3. Preliminary Conclusions on the EC Conditionality 205
4.4. Conclusions 210
5. The Institutionalisation of Regions in Romania 215
5.1. Aims and Structure of the Chapter 215
5.2. The Pre-Europeanisation Phase 216
5.2.1. The Explanatory Value of the State Traditions 217
5.2.1.A. Pre-Communist State Traditions: Between the Historical Regions and the Nation-State 217
5.2.1.B. Communist State Tradition: The Reinforcement of Centralisation 222
5.2.1.C. The Range of State Traditions in the Post-Communist Period 224
5.2.2. The Explanatory Value of the Immediate Post-Communist Conflictual Political Culture 226
5.2.3. The Explanatory Value of the Discourse Opposed to Regionalisation 230
5.2.4. The Explanatory Value of the Constitutional Path-Setting Sequence 232
5.2.5. The Explanatory Value of Veto Players and Formal Institutions 235
5.2.6. The Explanatory Value of Norm Agents 237
5.3. Europeanisation and Regionalisation in the EU’s Enlargement Frame: 1996-2007 239
5.3.1. From the EC Conditionality to the EU Conditionality 241
5.3.1.A. The Background Normative and Material Conditionality 241
5.3.1.B. The Applied EU Material and Normative Conditionality 243
5.3.1.C. The Financial Pre-accession Instruments – Aspects of the Material Conditionality 245
5.3.2. Description of the EU Requirements in the Regional Policy Field 247
5.3.3. The Analysis of the Commission’s Recommendations 250
5.3.4. Internal Reaction to the EU Conditionality: From Opposition and Misfit to Adaptation 253
5.3.4.A. The Evolution of the Immediate Post-Communist Conditions for Change: The EU Conditionality, the Formal Institutions, the Veto Players and the Political Culture 254
5.3.4.A.a. The Government 1996-2000: The Formal Institutionalisation of Regions 255
5.3.4.A.b. Government 2000-2004: The Development of the Regions 266
5.3.4.A.c. The Government: 2004-2008: Final Evolutions 270
5.3.4.B. The Explanatory Value of the EU Conditionality, Formal Institutions, Veto Players, Political Culture and Internal Discourse 273
5.3.4.C. The Explanatory Value of the Norm Agents Variable 276
5.3.4.D. The Explanatory Value of the Internal Discourse 281
5.4. Conclusions 286
6. The Phenomenon of Regions’ Institutionalisation from a Comparative Perspective: Territorial Experiences in Spain and Romania 293
6.1. The Chapter’s Aim and Plan 293
6.2. The Explanatory Value of the EU Conditionality Variable 294
6.2.1. Features of the Evolutive EC/EU Conditionality 294
6.2.2. The Causal Link between the EC/EU Conditionality and the Regions’ Institutionalisation 299
6.3. The Explanatory Value of the Path-Setting Sequence Variable 304
6.4. The Explanatory Value of the Political Culture Variable 306
6.5. The Explanatory Value of the State Tradition Variable 311
6.6. The Explanatory Value of the Formal Institutions Variable 314
6.7. The Explanatory Value of the Norm Agents Variable 317
6.8. The Explanatory Value of the Discourse Variable 321
6.9. The Explanatory Value of the Veto Players Variable 324
6.10. Comparative Conclusions 328
6.10.1. The Conjunction of Explanatory Variables for Spain 328
6.10.2. The Conjunction of Explanatory Variables for Romania 329
6.10.3. The Comparative Results 331
7. Conclusions 336
7.1. Summary and Contribution to Research 337
7.1.1. The Findings from the Review of the Literature 338
7.1.2. The Operationalisation of the Literature Findings and Methodology: The Research Design 340
7.1.3. The Research Results: Theory Corroboration, Falisfication and Refinement 343
7.1.3.A. What is the Impact of the EU Variable on Domestic Territorial Reforms? 343
7.1.3.B. What is the Impact of the State Traditions on Domestic Territorial Reforms? 347
7.1.3.C. Is the Path-Setting Sequence Relevant for Explanation? 350
7.1.3.D. What is the Impact of the Veto Players on Territorial Institutional Change? 351
7.1.3.E. Has the Presence of Formal Institutions an Influence on Territorial Change? 354
7.1.3.F. What is the Impact of the Norm Agents on Territorial Institutional Change? 355
7.1.3.G. What is the Role of Political Culture in the Process of Institutional Territorial Change? 358
7.1.3.H. What is the Impact of the Discourse Variable on Territorial Institutional Change? 360
7.1.3.I. The Conjunction of Explanatory Variables and the Differences 362
7.1.3.I.a. The Comparative Test Results 362
7.1.3.I.b. Explaining Different Outcomes of the Regions’ Institutionalisation 364
7.2. Other Findings and Research Perspectives 367
7.2.1. Has the Heterogenous Theoretical Approach to Empirical Data Been Useful? 367
7.2.2. Do the Europeanisation Conditionality Mechanisms Explain Territorial Change? 368
7.2.3. Our Critical and Innovative Approach to Europeanisation 370
7.2.4. Understanding the Interconnections between the EU and Domestic Actors and Institutions: Towards a New Europeanisation Agenda 372
7.2.4. Future Venues for Research 375
8. References 377
8.1. Academic Literature 377
8.2. Documents 440
8.2.1. EC/EU Documents 440
8.2.3. Romanian Documents 445
8.2.4. Spanish Documents 447
8.3. Newspapers 452
8.3.1. Romanian Newspapers 452
8.3.2. Spanish Newspapers 454
8.4. Interviews 465
8.4.1. Interviews Spain 465
8.4.2. Interviews Romania 466
8.4.3. Interviews Commission Delegation to Romania 469

List of Tables

Table 1: Mechanisms of Europeanisation……………………………………..69
Table 2: Causal Variables: Explaining the Europeanisation Outcomes……..87
Table 3: EU Europeanisation Mechanisms…………………………………...103
Table 4: Potential Domestic Explanatory Variables…………………………108
Table 5: Mirror-images of MSSD and MDSD………………………………..120
Table 6: The Autonomous Communities of Spain…………………………...214
Table 7: The Development Regions in Romania……………………………..292
Table 8: The Conjunction of Explanatory Variables: Spain and Romania...330
Table 9: Overview of the Theoretical Potential Causes for Change………...332
Table 10: The General Conjunction of Explanatory Variables……………..333
Table 11: The Potential Domestic Explanatory Variables…………………..341
Table 12: The Test Results of the 8 Selected Causal Variables……………..363

List of Annexes

Annex 1 - Research Travels Spain and Romania –Time Table……………..470
Annex 2 - The Gunther Archive of transcripts of interviews with Spanish political elites…………………………………………………………………...471

List of Maps
Map 1: Spain: The Autonomous Communities………………………………473
Map 2: Romania: The Historical Regions……………………………………474
Map 3: Romania: The Development Regions (NUTS II)……………………475
Map 4: Romania: The 1929 Territorial-Administrative Organisation……..476
Map 5: Romania: The 1938 Territorial-Administrative Organisation……..477
Map 6: Romania: The 1950 Administrative-Territorial Organisation……..478
Map 7: Romania: The 1952 Administrative-Territorial Organisation……..479
Map 8: Romania: The 1960 Administrative-Territorial Organisation……..480

List of Articles published in the framework of this study…………………………..486
Publication status: published
KU Leuven publication type: TH
Appears in Collections:Leuven International and European Studies (LINES)
Doctoral Programme and Research Support, Faculty of Social Sciences

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