Combining multi-level and network governance with a spillover effect: the case of the european ?innovation union' flagship initiative

Author:Andra Maria Popa - Ioana Dodi - Oana-Andreea Ion
Position:Ph.D. candidate, the National School of Political Studies and Public Administration. Beneficiary of the 'Doctoral Scholarships for a Sustainable Society' project, co-financed by the European Union through the European Social Fund, Sectorial Operational Programme Human Resources Development 2007-2013 - M.A. Student at the National School o
Pages:340-361
SUMMARY

The purpose of this paper is to demonstrate the possibility of a theoretical up-grade to the framework offered by the theory of governance: from a middle-range theory to a full theory through adding a neofunctionalist component that would enhance its explanatory capabilities by projecting them at the systemic level. The authors have chosen, as a case study, the flagship initiative "Innovation... (see full summary)

 
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340 Lex ET Scientia. Administrative Series
LESIJ NO. XVIII, VOL. 1/2011
COMBINING MULTI-LEVEL AND NETWORK GOVERNANCE WITH
A SPILLOVER EFFECT: THE CASE OF THE EUROPEAN
“INNOVATION UNION” FLAGSHIP INITIATIVE
Andra Maria POPA1
Ioana DODI2
Oana-Andreea ION3
Abstract
The purpose of this paper is to demonstrate the possibility of a theoretical up-grade to the
framework offered by the theory of governance: from a middle-range theory to a full theory
through adding a neofunctionalist component that would enhance its explanatory capabilities by
projecting them at the systemic level. The authors have chosen, as a case study, the flagship
initiative "Innovation Union" within the Europe 2020 Strategy; this initiative provides a set of
actions that can be undertaken at different levels of political authority (supranational, national,
etc.) and involving several types of actors (state, supranational, non-state, etc.), context which
validates the theoretical components of governance, represented by multi-level governance and
network governance. The authors consider that the integration of the research policy of the
Member States will produce a spillover effect (in neofunctionalist terms) on other policy areas; the
argument is based on the fact that the Europe 2020 Strategy, in general, and the flagship initiative
"Innovation Union", in particular, require concerted actions within different policy directions
(research, education, industrial policy, fiscal policy, employment, communications, environment,
etc.), context that determines an "integration" trend of these policies on the basis of a spillover
process. The authors believe that the integration of all policy areas involved in the flagship
initiative "Innovation Union" would lead, through a spillover effect, to a better European
economic integration. The normative foundation of the analysis is the Treaty of Lisbon, as the
flagship initiative is part of the research and development policy of the European Union, in which
the EU currently holds not only the competence to support, coordinate and complement the
actions undertaken by the Member States, but also to define and implement programs.
Keywords: Multi-Level Governance, Network Governance, Spillover, Europe 2020,
Innovation
Introduction
The global financial and economic crisis had a great impact on the European Union,
cancelling part of the social and economic progress that has been achieved in the years preceding

1 Ph.D. candidate, the National School of Political Studies and Public Administration. Beneficiary of the “Doctoral
Scholarships for a Sustainable Society” project, co-financed by the European Union through the European Social
Fund, Sectorial Operational Programme Human Resources Development 2007-2013 (e-mail:
andrapopa@gmail.com).
2 M.A. Student at the National School of Political Studies and Public Administration – Department of International
Relations and European Integration (e-mail: ioana.dodi1@yahoo.com).
3 Lecturer, Ph.D., Faculty of Social and Administrative Sciences, “Nicolae Titulescu” University (e-mail:
oana.andreea.ion@gmail.com).
Andra Maria Popa, Ioana Dodi, Oana-Andreea Ion
341
LESIJ NO. XVIII, VOL. 1/2011
the crisis. Now, the most important objective of the EU is to recover soon and continue with the
reforms. The world has changed, but Europe is still failing to adapt to the new reality around it.
Besides the effort to overcome the crisis, the EU faces a number of other internal and external
challenges (aging population, resource scarcity, climate change, globalization, the spread of new
information and communication technologies, the emergence of new economic powers etc.4)
which are continuously multiplying. In this context, it becomes imperative for the EU to
reconsider its priorities and to review its sources of competitive advantage on global scale.
Europe’s only chance to return as a major player on the international stage depends on all Member
States acting together as a Union. Therefore, the current developments within the EU are an
important testing ground for EU scholars, who can closely analyze the means through which the
integration/convergence of the Member States can be achieved, thus developing an improved
theory of European integration.
This paper is meant to explore the possibility of a (theoretical) up-grade of the theory of
governance: from a middle-range theory to a full theory by adding a neofunctionalist component
that would enhance its explanatory capabilities by projecting them at the systemic level. This
research initiative is based on the belief that the great theories in European integration
(neofunctionalism and intergovernmentalism) aren’t able to explain the current developments of
the EU and that the recent theoretical perspectives on EU governance (multi-level governance and
network governance) aren’t enough to form a comprehensive theory of EU integration (they seem
to lack the prescriptive component). Thus, it calls for a rethinking of the EU integrationist theories
in order to be able to reflect the present reality of the European Union.
The authors of this article believe that the good explanatory capacity of the EU governance
theory, in both of its forms – multi-level governance and network governance, can be improved by
adding a neofunctionalist component of spillover. For proving this assumption, we have chosen to
analyze – as a case study – the flagship initiative "Innovation Union" within the Europe 2020
Strategy. We believe this initiative is the most important of all seven flagship initiatives because it
focuses on innovation, a thing which, in our opinion, must define every EU policy in order for the
EU to develop and to become a significant player on the global stage; thus, the integration of the
research and innovation policies of the Member States can produce a spillover effect on other
policy areas.
The theoretical framework of this paper is represented by the neofunctionalist approach and
the theory of governance; these perspectives on European integration are presented in the light of
the existing specialized literature in the domain and by trying to identify a correlation between
them, in order for a new, more comprehensive EU integration theory to emerge. The methodology
used for this article consists in the study of documents, especially research papers of the main
authors in the field of EU studies or official documents of the EU, such as the Treaty of Lisbon
and other documents that establish the framework and the functioning of the Europe 2020 strategy
and of the Innovation Union flagship initiative.
The analytical approach is structured in three chapters as follows: the first chapter presents
the theoretical framework of the analysis; the second chapter corresponds to the case study and the
third is meant to draw the conclusions of the paper.
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4 For more information about the internal and external challenges which the EU has to face at the moment, see
European Commission Communication from the Commission. Europe 2020 – A strategy for smart, sustainable and
inclusive growth, COM (2010) 2020 final, Brussels, 3.03.2010.

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