Research team

International Politics

Expertise

International cooperation International trade policy Trade policy of the European Union, the United States of America, Canada and China Transatlantic relations World Trade Organization WTO Interest groups in the European Union European Banking Union German politics

Competition and cooperation in European defence: private versus public governance and EU policy outcomes. 01/01/2021 - 31/12/2024

Abstract

European governments have agreed to source European defence equipment in the form of ad-hoc procurement programmes as well as EU-level initiatives. However, the European defence market is also characterised by inter-state competition. Hence, it is riddling that we end with a curious mix of cooperation and inter-state competition: sometimes we get ad hoc inter-state military programmes, and in other instances we get EU-level policies. Why? To solve this riddle in this research project, we plan to focus on state-level variation between public versus private governance of industrial suppliers. Indeed, EU countries can be characterised by a public or private governance system of their defence industries. Countries where the state governs defence firms are likely to take part in EU-level projects bringing narrow benefits for their own industries. By contrast, we hypothesize that countries with a private governance system are more likely to participate in inter-state collaboration, because they can realize larger macro-economic and military benefits. To explain the curious mix of European defence cooperation and competition, we will for the first time conduct a network analysis of the interpenetration of political and industrial actors in four major European countries, and combine this with a comparative case-study of European collaborative initiatives in this field.

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European Fiscal Policy, Banking Union and Collective Goods Theory. 01/05/2020 - 30/04/2021

Abstract

This SEP grant constitutes the fourth year of a PhD-trajectory, subsequent to a three year EU grant in the framework of the Innovative Training Network PLATO on the Post-crisis Legitimacy of the European Union. This 4th year extension grant has several significant benefits for the research already conducted, the further career plans of the PhD researcher Philipp Lausberg in question, and for follow-up research project applications to the benefit of the University of Antwerp. The timetable of a three-year ITN scholarship which finishes in December 2020 is extremely tight, to the point that it is hardly possible to go into as much depth in research as would be desirable. The prolongation thus serves to produce an even better-researched and more extensive thesis, improving career prospects in the academic world and beyond, as well as improving publication output in the interest of the university. The additional year will serve to plan next career steps more thoroughly, namely write an FWO junior postdoctoral grant proposal, as well as apply for other such opportunities. Within the current, tight timeframe, it is nearly impossible to produce a comprehensive application realizing the potential at hand, since all-time needs to be invested in finishing the PhD thesis in time. Strategically planning this kind of application also includes publishing journal articles. Currently, we are awaiting the acceptance of a co-authored article submitted to the highly ranked Journal of Common Market Studies and for the publication of a single authored book chapter in an edited volume (edited by Chris Lord, Dirk De Bièvre, Ramses Wessels and Peter Bursens) destined for the prestigious ECPR Press. The SEP grant will allow to prepare a postdoc application with these two pieces already published. Moreover, it will provide time to produce a further article for publication in a top journal. The novel approach of analyzing several post-crisis institutions of economic and financial governance in the EU using a collective goods perspective lends itself very well to such a publication strategy. Finally, the additional year of funding will also be used to submit grant and research project proposals together with other faculty at the University of Antwerp. Recently, the Politics and Public Governance research group became part of one the Centers of Excellence with a focus on 'Trust and Distrust in Multi-level Governance'. GOVTRUST will perform cutting-edge and cross-disciplinary research at international frontier domains. Research expertise on institutional reforms in EU governance and their legitimacy fits well within the scope of the Centre. Hence, a cooperation could be highly stimulating and beneficial for both sides. Grant proposal writing in cooperation with this Centre of Excellence will therefore constitute the third activity to be developed in this 4th year of PhD funding by the University of Antwerp Special Research Fund, not least because GOVTRUST could provide the context to apply for larger-scale collaborative European research programs.

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Exploring Conditions for Politicization: A Comparative Analysis of European Union Trade Agreement Negotiations. 01/01/2020 - 31/12/2023

Abstract

In times of Brexit and Trump, trade policy has become the subject of public attention. Moreover, trade negotiations of the world's largest trading entity, the European Union, have become subject to unprecedented polarisation and contestation by civil society actors, as was the case with negotiations with Canada (CETA) and the United States (TTIP). Surpisingly though, such politicization did not occur across the board. Negotiations with Japan or Vietnam for instance did not cause any public stir and sailed through largely uncontested. This research project proposal outlines (1) how the politicization of EU trade agreement negotiations varies considerably across different negotiations (and across EU member states); (2) why some seemingly obvious explanations for this observed variation are logically and/or empirically problematic; and (3) outlines a new research strategy to parse out necessary and sufficient conditions for politicization in a mixed method research design, combining so-called Crisp Set Qualitative Comparative Analysis with in-depth, controlled case comparisons. By shedding light on structural conditions under which civil society actors are able to engage in politicization, this project aims to bring together the literature on EU trade politics with the literature on interest groups, civil society, and public opinion formation, and sets out a course for training-through-PhD-research.

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Project website

To Discriminate or Not to Discriminate? The Politics of Selective Trade Protection in the 21st Century. 01/11/2019 - 31/10/2021

Abstract

The principle of non-discrimination – the central pillar of the post-World War II trading system – has recently come under threat due to the increasing use of country-specific trade restrictions by members of the World Trade Organization (WTO). These measures significantly distort global trade flows and lead to an unequal distribution of the benefits of trade. It is, therefore, surprising that we know so little about what is driving the choice between discriminatory and non-discriminatory trade barriers. This research project aims to answer this eminently political question by investigating how contemporary trends in international trade (e.g. globalisation of production) affect the position of domestic firms and/or industries vis-à-vis (non)discrimination, and how these preferences translate into trade policies pursued by governments. Starting from an innovative conceptual framework, I derive several testable hypotheses that challenge the conventional wisdom in the literature on trade policy. Moreover, I propose a sequential mixed-methods explanatory design that comprises two stages. First, I will perform a regression analysis of data from seven key members of the WTO (1995-2015). Second, I will conduct eight in-depth case studies, involving document analysis and interviews with political and societal stakeholders.

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The Politicization of European Union Trade Agreement Negotiations. 01/10/2019 - 30/09/2023

Abstract

In times of Brexit and Trump, trade policy in general and the external trade policy of the European Union (EU) in particular has increasingly become the subject of public attention. Moreover, some trade negotiations conducted by the EU, the world's largest trading entity, have recently become subject to unprecedented politicization. Not only has attention for them increased, opinions about their desirability and content have also become more polarized, and more actors have participated in that political process than in the past. Strikingly however, negotiations with Canada (CETA) and the United States (TTIP) were far more controversial than similar trade agreement negotiations with Japan or Vietnam. In fact, while some particular trade deals have been marked by a high degree of polarized public input from a broad range of actors, many similar and even more comprehensive trade deals seem have to escaped detection. A scholarly consensus is emerging in terms of how to define and measure politicization but no systematic undertaking has thus far been applied to the various trade deals pursued by the EU since it lifted its moratorium on bilateral trade negotiations ion 2005. The purpose of this project is to fill this research gap by mapping the extent to which these trade deals have become politicized – geographically as well as temporally. Combining state-of-the-art social listening algorithms with traditional media analysis, this project will contribute to the study of politicization by presenting an empirical comparison of all cases in this particular field with regard to their salience, the degree of polarisation of opinions about issues in them, and the (amount of) actors involved in that process. The project thus seeks to do the empirical groundwork and pave the way for further future research on how different structural factors could be said to contribute to this phenomenon. Furthermore, the geographic and temporal aspects will give valuable original insights into how the dynamic process of politicization occurs and is autoreferentially amplified through new-media cycles.

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Maintaining Multilateralism: The Politics of Dispute Initiation at the World Trade Organization. 01/01/2018 - 31/12/2021

Abstract

The multilateral trade regime of the World Trade Organization represents one of the most 'judicialized' or 'legalized' international institutions. Multilateralism in trade matters has recently come under threat from several sides: states' increasing reliance on preferential trade agreements, the contestation of trade policy by NGOs, and the increasingly widespread protectionist rhetoric in political debates within key international trading players. The rule-based WTO system of liberalization commitments and their enforcement is generally seen as contributing to a level playing field, where stakeholders have equal opportunities to get their rights enforced through legal means. Whereas existing analyses have largely focused on actual disputes, they have largely overlooked that these are only the tip of the iceberg of potential disputes. This research project aims to bring to the surface and analyse the origins of potential cases out of which governments select topics that lead to the filing of WTO disputes, by investigating how five key members of the WTO - the EU, the US, South Korea, Japan, and Brazil - select their targets in WTO litigation. To that end, we propose to (1) construct an original dataset of potential WTO disputes (1995-2016), and (2) assess the explanatory power of several hypotheses regarding governments' decisions to initiate WTO disputes by adopting a mixed-method approach based on a combination of statistical analyses and in-depth case studies.

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The Post-crisis Legitimacy of the European Union European Training Network (PLATO). 01/01/2017 - 31/12/2020

Abstract

Is there a crisis in the legitimacy of the European Union? That research question is timely and important. Investigating it is also an ideal way of training research leaders of tomorrow to rethink our assumptions about the study of legitimate political order. Whilst, however, the financial crisis has raised new questions about the legitimacy of the EU, existing theories of legitimacy crises are largely based on single-state political systems. New theory is, therefore, needed to understand what would count as legitimacy crises in the case of a non-state political system such as the EU. PLATO's (The Post-Crisis Legitimacy of the EU) ESRs will work together as a team to build new theory from 15 investigations into different standards and actors with whom the EU may need to be legitimate. ESRs will go well beyond the state-of-the-art by building a theory of legitimacy crisis in the EU from a uniquely interdisciplinary understanding of how democracy, power, law, economies and societies all fit together with institutions within and beyond the state to affect the legitimacy of contemporary political order. By developing the analytical tools needed to understand a core predicament in which the EU may both need to develop legitimate forms of political power beyond the state and find those forms of power hard to achieve, PLATO will train ESRs with the conceptual clarity needed to define new research questions at the very frontiers of their disciplines and the methodological skills needed to research those questions. They will also be prepared for careers in the non-academic sector (policy-advice, consulting, civil society, European institutions and expert bodies). PLATO's ambitious cross-university, crosscountry and cross-sectoral programme of research training, supervision and secondments will pool resources from a unique network of 9 research-intensive universities and 11 non-academic partners who are themselves key users of state-of-the-art social science research. https://www.plato.uio.no/

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Project website

Antwerp Consortium on the Organization of Rulemaking and Multilevel Governance in Europe (ACTORE). 01/09/2016 - 31/08/2019

Abstract

The core research revolves around the theme of multilevel governance in the EU. The consortium examines how EU multilevel governance impacts upon public policymaking processes in relation to rule-making and rule-implementation, both at the European and the domestic level. Its research program is centered around three interrelated research lines focusing on the complex multilevel governance system of the EU, changing domestic and EU rule-making processes and the legitimacy of the EU multilevel political system. Multilevel governance in the EU has made the organizational and institutional architecture of government and governance institutions much more interdependent and complex, affecting the way national and European societal interests organize themselves, how they secure representation and provide input in order to influence policy outcomes. These developments interact with changing domestic and European processes and outcomes of rule-making. All this ultimately raises questions concerning the legitimacy of how the EU multilevel political system operates and involves citizens and societal groups.

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What comes to the surface in multilateral trade governance? A comparative investigation of the politicaleconomic determinants of disputes initiation in the World Trade Organization (WTO). 01/10/2014 - 16/02/2017

Abstract

This project investigates whether and how the judicialization of the World Trade Organization (WTO) leads to more trade liberalization. To do so, I address two closely interrelated questions. (1) Do WTO member states that might be challenged in WTO dispute settlement take a protectionist or a liberalizing stance in multilateral negotiations? (2) Under which conditions does actual WTO litigation contribute to the removal of WTO-illegal barriers to trade? The first question addresses the effect of legal vulnerability on WTO member states' negotiation strategies, whereas the second investigates how issue characteristics and domestic decision making structures affect implementation. I plan to use a combination of quantitative and qualitative research methods to shed clear light on how the two leading world trading powers, the EU and the US, respond to legal vulnerability and actual litigation.

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Research in the domain of EU trade policy 15/09/2014 - 30/09/2015

Abstract

This project represents a research contract awarded by the University of Antwerp. The supervisor provides the Antwerp University research mentioned in the title of the project under the conditions stipulated by the university.

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International judicial politics: EU and US responses to WTO litigation. 01/10/2013 - 30/09/2017

Abstract

How do the European Union and the United States respond to legal challenges brought in WTO litigation? As the current Doha Round of multilateral trade negotiations at the World Trade Organization is deadlocked, answering this question is key to assess the strength and nature of the WTO judicial arm, and to assess whether and how the WTO can remain a key institution in global economic governance. We will investigate responses to WTO litigation of the European Union (EU) and the United States (US) through a combination of advanced regression techniques, crisp set Qualitative Comparative Analysis (csQCA), and in-depth case studies of selected WTO disputes, in which the EU and the US acted as defendants. Based on an original re-coding of the WTO dispute settlement Database by Horn and Mavroidis, we will be able to identify patterns of responses to WTO litigation, trace causality and make inferences about necessary and sufficient conditions, and apply the legal studies method of case law analysis in a controlled comparison of selected WTO dispute settlement cases. This mixed method design allows us to consider two types of responses to legal challenge at the WTO simultaneously, namely the degree of dispute escalation (consultation, panel, retaliation) and the degree rule compliance (non-implementation, partial, and full implementation). In this project application, we illustrate how the two explanatory factors of political mobilization and number of veto players may well be causally linked to both dispute escalation and rule compliance. We further explain how we will investigate a whole range of other explanatory factors, explain how we will overcome coding challenges, and set out how international interdisciplinary collaboration will contribute to the feasibility and innovative nature of the project. The supervisory team for the PhD researcher will consist of UA ACIM staff Prof. Dr. Dirk De Bièvre and FWO postdoc Dr. Arlo Poletti (soon part-time Professor at LUISS, Rome), UA WTO law specialist Prof. Dr. Alexia Herwig, QCA specialist Prof. Dr. Francesco Giumelli (Prague), and WTO case law specialist Prof. Dr. Petros Mavroidis (Columbia Law School & EUI, soon Dr. honoris causa of the UA).

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So much noise, so little change. Explaining interest group mobilization at the international level. 01/10/2012 - 30/09/2014

Abstract

The growing number of interest groups that mobilize at the international level intrigues many political scientists, but up to now this has not led to an adequate explanation for this phenomenon. My PhD-project aims to build and empirically test a theoretical framework which explains the development of international interest group populations. This explanatory framework will build upon research in the area of population ecology and resource dependency theory. My key idea is that interest group politics is not solely driven by a logic of political influence. Instead, I will demonstrate that international interest group mobilization is also substantially driven by a combination of contextual incentives and organizational goals regarding organizational survival and maintenance. The idea thereby is that dense populations will 'select' groups that posses a proper balance of organizational capabilities, while other ¿ less versatile ¿ organizations will exit the international scene more often and more rapid. By comparing the interest group populations of the World Trade Organization and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change I investigate empirically the mechanisms that trigger entry, exit and hibernation patterns of interest groups at the international level.

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Societal interests and transatlantic regulatory policy coordination. 01/01/2012 - 31/12/2015

Abstract

This project aims to explain why big trading blocs such as the United States and the European Union sometimes succeed and at other times fail to coordinate their regulatory policies. As regulatory policies generate costs and benefits for economic and social constituencies, our explanatory framework incorporates how societal interests in Europe and the US attempt to influence the coordination of regulatory policies. The theoretical framework we build incorporates approaches of international policy cooperation that emphasize the importance of shared ideas, focal points and policy framing and modifies them to deal with the specificities of regulatory cooperation, its multidimensionality and its all-or-nothing character. Next to the development of an explanatory framework our empirical research will consist of systematically mapping and coding a representative set of transatlantic regulatory policy issues in order to test various theoretical hypotheses.

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The politics of trade liberalization in the WTO: how latent and actual disputes can remove barriers to trade. 01/10/2011 - 30/09/2014

Abstract

This project investigates whether and how the judicialization of the World Trade Organization (WTO) leads to more trade liberalization. To do so, I address two closely interrelated questions. (1) Do WTO member states that might be challenged in WTO dispute settlement take a protectionist or a liberalizing stance in multilateral negotiations? (2) Under which conditions does actual WTO litigation contribute to the removal of WTO-illegal barriers to trade? The first question addresses the effect of legal vulnerability on WTO member states' negotiation strategies, whereas the second investigates how issue characteristics and domestic decision making structures affect implementation. I plan to use a combination of quantitative and qualitative research methods to shed clear light on how the two leading world trading powers, the EU and the US, respond to legal vulnerability and actual litigation.

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Research team(s)

INTEREURO - Comparative research on interest group politics in Europe. 01/01/2011 - 31/12/2013

Abstract

The main purpose of this CRP (INTEREURO) is to promote a more comprehensive theoretical and empirical understanding of the role interest groups play in the European polity. Specifically, we will examine interest group mobilization; organizational maintenance and professionalization; strategies for influencing political decision-making; framing processes; and their impact on policy outcomes. The project will link the different aspects of the role of interest groups in the European policy process in an integrated theoretical framework.

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When litigation turns into trade liberalization: judicialization in the World Trade Organization (WTO) and trade liberalization by the European Union. 01/01/2010 - 31/12/2012

Abstract

The research project's primary aim is to account for existing differences in the extent to which WTO members react to legal challenges brought forward by their trade partners through the activation of the WTO's Dispute Settlement Mechanism. A theoretical framework is developed to explain why and how in certain cases these states accommodate external demands while in other ones they stick to their policy position. Empirically, the research project employs a combination of quantitative and qualitative research methods to analyze cases in which the dispute settlement mechanism was activated against the EU since the creation of the WTO in 1995.

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A comparative analysis of interest groups in European trade policy towards China. 01/10/2009 - 30/09/2011

Abstract

This research proposal is concerned with the relative influence of different interest groups in European external trade policy towards China. To what extent and why do interest groups of importers and retailers exert influence on EU trade policy, a policy field traditionally dominated by producing sectors? An answer to this question is sought by way of a controlled comparison of different corporate interest groups. The specific emeprical goal of this resreach project is to come to a better understanding of the political economy of the European trade policy. This will be done by answering four interrelated research questions: 1) Have traditionally influential producer-interest-groups (exporters and corporations producing for the home market) lost (part of their) influence on the European trade policy during the last two decades? 2) Why did importers and retailers became so politically active during the 1990's while beforehand they kept their lobbying activities to a minimum? 3) Did their increasing lobbing activities indeed resulted in more influence on policy decisions in European trade policy and, if so, to what extent? 4) What are the consequences of these developments for the European trade policy in terms of institutional structure and policy choices (protection versus liberalization)?

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Cooperating in the shadow of the law: judicialization and the expansion of WTO reach. 01/10/2009 - 30/09/2010

Abstract

It is widely acknowledged that the 'legalization' or 'judicialization' of the world trade regime brought by the creation of the WTO in 1995 has had a profound impact on the trade-related interests of domestic actors in WTO members. Little attention, however, has been devoted to investigating how legal vulnerability and the prospect of litigation affects these actors' propensity to deepen and widen cooperative agreements already undertaken in the WTO framework. This research project seeks to shed light on these dynamics by analyzing the politics of preference formation of the EU in two areas of negotiations in the Doha Round: agriculture and trade-and-environment.

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International negotiations in the European Council: Preferences of Negotiators Identified. 01/03/2008 - 31/12/2009

Abstract

Negotiations in the EU are of prime importance for international and domestic politics. Explaining EU decision making requires good data regarding the preferences of negotiators. Collecting this data is an ambitious empirical undertaking. This project aims to develop a database of negotiators' preferences. This will create an important stimulus for research on international negotiations, of which several researchers will profit.

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A comparative analysis of interest groups in European trade policy towards China. 01/10/2007 - 30/09/2009

Abstract

This research proposal is concerned with the relative influence of different interest groups in European external trade policy towards China. To what extent and why do interest groups of importers and retailers exert influence on EU trade policy, a policy field traditionally dominated by producing sectors? An answer to this question is sought by way of a controlled comparison of different corporate interest groups. The specific emeprical goal of this resreach project is to come to a better understanding of the political economy of the European trade policy. This will be done by answering four interrelated research questions: 1) Have traditionally influential producer-interest-groups (exporters and corporations producing for the home market) lost (part of their) influence on the European trade policy during the last two decades? 2) Why did importers and retailers became so politically active during the 1990's while beforehand they kept their lobbying activities to a minimum? 3) Did their increasing lobbing activities indeed resulted in more influence on policy decisions in European trade policy and, if so, to what extent? 4) What are the consequences of these developments for the European trade policy in terms of institutional structure and policy choices (protection versus liberalization)?

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Efficiënt and democratic governance in a multi-level Europe. (CONNEX) 01/02/2006 - 30/06/2008

Abstract

First at all, it intends to mobilise outstanding scholars all over Europe to deepen our knowledge of the present state and likely future development of European multilevel governance, its assets and deficiencies in terms of problem-solving capacity and democratic legitimacy. Second, it aims at building a Europe-wide research community which stands for scientific excellence and for providing added value for prospective users.

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