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Is British Politics Undergoing A Process Of Europeanisation?

2137 words - 9 pages

Is British politics undergoing a process of Europeanisation?Almost every aspect of UK politics and policy-making is affected by the EU in some manner. I shall examine the concept of Europeanisation and the different definitions that academics have attributed to this phrase. My discussions will then focus on areas of UK politics that have been significantly impacted by the EU such as policy-making, the judicial system and devolution and those which have been subjected to it's influences to a lesser extent.'Europeanisation' definedIt has been argued by Buller and Gamble that academics have been overly hasty in deciding what Europeanisation is, and thus endangering the discussions on this subject with confusion and perhaps even impeding its' theoretical progression. Kassim (2000) observed that Europeanisation is an "essentially contested" concept exemplified by Buller and Gamble's rejection of the five current usages of the term. In brief the different conceptions are:1.The process of European-level institutionalisation ie. development of institutions of governance at the European level.2.The domestic impact of these institutions.3.The export of European forms of political organization and governance beyond Europe.4.The territorial expansion of Europe's (or the EU's) borders, known as enlargement.5.The achievement of the political unification of Europe as a political ambition and the strengthening of European integration.How does the term 'Europeanisation' differ from 'European integration'? This is a complex theoretical debate without a definite answer. My personal opinion is that European integration focuses on the process of institution building and political integration at the European level more so whereas, the phrase Europeanisation is more all encompassing and is used to analyse the dynamics of European integration, how it occurs and more importantly how it impacts on the domestic politics of member states. Some academics believe that the two definitions are interchangeable and the term Europeanisation should be scrapped so as to avoid further conceptual confusion.I think all the five definitions have some relevance in helping to conceptualise the term but I particularly think that an analysis of 1) and 2) are the two most important elements to help understand the transformations currently taking place in the EU. Combined they provide a two way analysis; 'top down' and 'bottom up' allowing us to examine the interplay between the EU system and the British polity which is said to be "characterized by complex feedback loops" . These loops reflect the complex interaction of global, European, national and sub-national processes. Similarly, I have conceptualised the Europeanisation of UK politics as a two-way process with a slight emphasis on the downward causation from EU to domestic structure:"a process whereby domestic politics becomes increasingly subjected to European policy-making" .This is a broad yet useful definition which can focus on the...

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