Theme 4.1: Transboundary Crisis Management and Multi-Level Governance

This sub-theme advances the understanding of the crisis leadership capacity of the European Union by focusing on interdependence in EU multi-level governance. In accordance with the framework (Project 1), it focuses on the ways in which crises can be identified, responses are being formulated and decisions transposed and enacted at the member state level. We know that crisis leadership capacity in the EU is diffused, and has to be understood in a system of dispersed authority where the overall capacity to deal with crises is dependent on the capacities of loosely coupled organisations at various levels of government. The research therefore focuses on the interaction between the EU-level and national and regional state and non-state actors that make up multi-level crisis management regimes.

Transboundary crisis management capacity requires the interaction between different components that are diffused, in a vertical and horizontal sense, across the EU. This sub-project will explore how the interaction between EU level organisations, such as the European Commission, the Council, and EU-level agencies, and member states is organised and operating. In other words, the questions will be about the structure and style in which these different components work together (or not) during transboundary crises. This sub-project explores the extent to which any one institution exercises leadership in terms of identifying risks and potential crises, addresses these with formulating responses, and ensures that these are being enacted upon at the national level.

The theme advances understanding of crisis leadership capacity by focusing on three dimensions that constitute a ‘crisis management regime’. Such regimes focus on particular risks and potential crises, they require instruments to reveal information about the actual state of the world, and they require resources and instruments to facilitate change from actual to the desired state of the world. Therefore, in addition to more actor and individual institution-focused approaches, we require a more detailed understanding of how formal decisions at the EU level are translated and understood at the member state level. Accordingly, the research will explore the following three dimensions and resultant research questions:

  • Standard-setting: this component is about the objectives of the particular regime, i.e. how and what kinds of threats are being identified, and what kind of goals and objectives are being sought. Varieties exist in terms of how prescriptive such standards are, and how they are being formulated in terms of decision-making rules and by whom. The existing literature on modes of governance largely focuses on this aspect of EU governance, noting differences between the experimental ‘benchmarking’ method (first made prominent under the ‘open method of co-ordination’) and legal instruments. Furthermore, this dimension also will highlight differences in the ways in which risks are understood and responsibilities assigned across levels.
  • Information-gathering: this component is about informing EU-wide networks about developments at national, regional and local levels (and/or private facilities). Without knowledge about the ‘state of the world’, effective crisis management is not likely. It is therefore essential to come to a better understanding about the way in which member states are handling and identifying risks and potential crises, and how emerging information is being collected and ‘channelled’. This leads to research questions about the importance of institutionalised EU-wide warning systems, the way in which information is gathered at the national level, and whether EU capacities to exist to verify the information-gathering activities at member state level. Research will focus on the formal institutions that are responsible for organising information-gathering, but also the style in which information is being collected. For example, existing studies at the national level emphasise the way in which procedures are standardised, or rely on more ad-hoc measures, whether they are mandatory or voluntary, and whether information is collected in pro-active or reactive ways.
  • Behaviour-modification: this component is about how to ensure that behaviours among private and local actors adapt in the light of policy decisions. This dimension is about communicating the content of regimes to different, often highly decentralised actors, whether these are private firms, professional experts and governments at different levels. Interest here will lie on the way in which structures across sectors and countries vary and how such structural differences impact on the enforcement ‘style’. Observers of regulatory enforcement have highlighted the difficulties in developing systems of ‘responsive regulation’ that balance between deterrence and persuasion as enforcement strategies. Therefore, this sub-project will focus on the way in which enforcement across levels of government and between state and non-state actors is conducted

We explore the ways in which crisis management regimes are organised in four different domains: financial regulation, social policy, energy policy and environmental policy. All four are of a transboundary nature, and require co-ordination between and across national and EU-levels. All of these cases offer different types of crises, and their risk profile is different, and so are the underlying private and governmental interests. They also vary in terms of their Treaty basis and area of competency within the landscape of the European Commission, the Council of Ministers, the European Parliament and other EU-level bodies, such as the European Central Bank. The research identifies (i) the overall formal architecture, (ii) the interaction with member states, and (iii) through interviews in select member states.



Research Activities:

Practitioner Workshop

The TransCrisis research themes:

Themes: Introduction

Theme 1: Understanding transboundary crisis management

Theme 2: Studying political leaders in the financial crisis

Theme 3: Political leadership, EU institutions and transboundary crisis management capacity

Theme 3.1 Crisis Management Capacity in the European Commission, Council of Ministers, and Council of the European Union

Theme 3.2 Crisis Leadership in the European Parliament

Theme 3.3 Political Leadership in EU agencies

Theme 4: Interaction between EU-national administrations in times of crisis

Theme 4.1 Political Leadership and Crisis Management Regimes

Theme 4.2 Managing the Immigration Crisis

Theme 5: Political leadership, national politics, and transboundary crisis management

Theme 6: Political leadership and the ‘new normal’: developing transboundary crisis leadership capacity