Notes toward a theory of multilevel governing in Europe
with the introduction of Bob Jessop
The complexity of the multi-level European polity is not adequately represented by the single-level theoretical concepts of competing “intergovernmentalist” and “supranationalist” approaches. By contrast, empirical research focusing on multilevel interactions tends either to emphasize the uniqueness of its objects, or to create novel concepts – which are likely to remain contested even among Euro- peanists and have the effect of isolating European studies from the political science mainstream in International Relations and Comparative Politics. These difficulties are bound to continue as long as researchers keep proposing holistic concepts that claim to represent the complex reality of the European polity as a whole. It is suggested that the present competition among poorly fitting and contested generalizations could be overcome if European studies made use of a plurality of simpler and complementary concepts, each of which is meant to rep- resent the specific characteristics of certain subsets of multi-level interactions – which could also be applied and tested in other fields of political-science re- search. The paper goes on to describe four distinct modes of multi-level interaction in the European polity – “mutual adjustment”, “intergovernmental negotiations”, “ joint-decision making”, and “hierarchical direction” – and to discuss their characteristics by reference to the criteria of problem-solving capacity and institutional legitimacy.