Principals, agents, and the European Union's foreign economic policies
Special Issue: Journal of European Public Policy 2011/18(3) edited by Andreas Dür and Manfred Elsig
The aim of special issue is to shed new light on the EU's role as an actor in international economic governance. In particular, it focuses on selected principal-agent (PA) relationships in shaping this role. While the PA approach is not new to EU studies, so far, only few attempts have been made to understand the EU's foreign economic policies through this framework. The contributions to this collection start filling this gap. In doing so, they address three broad theoretical questions. First, what consequences does the existence of a multi-level system have for delegation and control? Second, what impact (for delegation, principals' strategies of control and agent autonomy) does the presence of principals with often diverging interests have on the PA relationships that are relevant in the formulation of the EU's foreign economic policies? Third, what explains the agents' choice of strategies under specific circumstances? The explicit application of the PA framework to the literature on the EU's foreign economic policies thus is the first contribution of the collection. A second contribution of the special issue is the integration of different strands of literature that all address the EU's foreign economic policies. Extensive research has been carried out on some aspects of the EU's trade, international competition and development policy. Fewer studies have been written on the EU and international monetary relations and international financial policy, that is, policies aimed at the regulation of financial markets. By bringing together studies from different policy fields that all form part of the EU's external economic relations, the collection allows for comparisons across policy fields.