Eesti teaduspoliitika euroopastumine: avatud koordinatsioonimeetodi rakendamine
The aim of this Master’s thesis is to foster the academic discussion on Europeanization by focusing on the mechanisms of Europeanization in policy areas governed by so-called soft law instead of the acquis communautaire. This is in line with the recent trend of increasing voluntary coordination and integration in policy fields that deriving from the principle of subsidiarity would otherwise lie only with the member states. More specifically, the thesis asks what kind of mechanisms should one anticipate to function in soft law governance. Additionally, the paper seeks to find answers to questions such as whether and why europeanization occurs in Estonian research policy, thus completing the set of questions usually anticipated in Europeanization research. The thesis is a a qualitative case study on the Europeanization of Estonia’s Research Policy, which is minimally regulated by the acquis --- instead, the main mechanism of Europeanization in this area is the open method of coordination (OMC), a voluntary learning tool introduced for governing EU research policy at the Lisbon Summit in 2000. The theoretical part of the paper builds on the recent literature on Europeanization mechanisms and new institutionalism. Europeanization is introduced as a concept and an analytical framework. Radaelli’s (2000) famous definition of Europeanization as EU influence on ‚ways of doing things‘ in different member states settings is used as a background in which different mechanisms are thought to be at work. Following Börzel and Radaelli among other influential writers, the list of mechanisms studied includes, among others experiential learning, socializing, problem-solving, conflict resolution, veto players, uploading and downloading policies and a number of mechanisms specific to the Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) countries borrowed from Grabbe. It is anticipated that while having certain and well-studied effects during the nineties, the choice – and in some cases also the meaning – of mechanisms has substantially changed due to the different nature of soft law in comparison with the acquis. The analysis of europeanisation mechanisms is complemented by a study of new institutionalism as the theory mostly used in recent Europeanization research. This trend is explained by the fact that more traditional International Relations (IR) theories were unable to explain the rush of integration that followed the enactment of the Single European Act (SEU) in 1986. Instead, the importance of institutions rose to the center of Europeanization research. As is well known, there are many strands of new institutionalism, namely rational choice (RCI), sociological (SI) and historical (HI). The biggest difference between these is whether actors follow the logic of consequentiality (RCI) or the logic of appropriateness (SI). Following Jupille et al (2003), it is demonstrated that the strands, although different, have potential for dialogue that could provide better answers to the why states integrate or not. For the purposes of this study, historical institutionalism that allows the interplay of both logics (consequentiality and appropriateness) is anticipated to explain the Europeanization of Estonian research policy sufficiently. This rationale has many reasons. Among the more important ones is the ability of HI studies to show and explain first of all the genesis of the certain policy field and of the context in which Europeanization is expected to manifest itself. Additionally, scholarly articles on EU enlargement have shown that while RCI arguments may have been more important in earlier rounds of enlargement, then the accession of CEE countries to the EU has been dominated by constructivist logic of appropriateness. Taken together, the Europeanization framework and a synthesis of different new institutionalist strands provided a number of expectations to be empirically tested. The choice of qualitative case study as the most suitable methodology for such a research question follows the overall trends concerning the usefulness of case study as such and the frequent implementation of the method in Europeanization research. The use of the OMC in the Europeanization of Estonian research policy was chosen as case because of its potentially strong ties with the expectations lined out in the preceding part. These include, among others, the interplay of RCI and SI logics, the rising importance of learning and socialising in integration based on soft law, the low importance of EU as gate-keeper and the continual importance of EU Money. Owing to the nature of case study research and HI expectations, the empirical chapter begings by explaining the emergence of research policy into the EU as well as Estonian agendas and the state of the art until early 2000s, when the Lisbon Strategy was originally launched and the policy field was opened to a number of Europeanization mechanisms. Thereafter the rise and character of the OMC is discussed along with an explanation of the mechanisms it is supposed to operate with. The analysis and discussion about the implementation of OMC and the relevant mechanisms is based on extensive documentary research, including but not limited to EU treaties, Council Conclusions, EU Commission communications, documents of the bodies committees, groups) in charge of realising EU research policy goals (most notably those of European Research Area Committee, formerly CREST and the Lisbon Expert Group), the peer-reviews of Estonia’s research, development, technology and innovation policy mixes conducted via the OMC in 2007 and 2012 respectively and relevant Estonian national strategies. Additionally, comments in the form of interviews or in writing were asked from Estonian officials and a peer-reviewer that were actively involved in at least one of the peer-reviews. The results were somewhat surprising. It appears that while soft law is the only way any meaningful Europeanization could occur in the field of research policy, soft law has not invited much integration. It is true that the EU has invited co-operation in this field and the creation of a European Research Area has also been mentioned in the Lisbon Treaty, but at least Estonia is quite reluctant to contribute to the overall goals. The EU is conceived as a means to an end which is to promote the competitiveness of Estonia rather than to worry about the overall output of the Union. This reflects well in the choice of europeanization mechanisms. While mutual learning is valued, the choice of lessons represents what Estonia itself feels as important. The EU peer-review may be distinguished, but so is any foreign aid from well-renowned partners. The results may be used, but only if it felt that both Estonian research and economy are served. In fact, the low extent of europeanisation largely stems from the fact that research itself is a means for the sake of better economic output and effort towards EU goals is less important due to the small size of Estonia compared to larger and more influential economies. Thus it is concluded that while most of the usual europeanisation mechanisms are at work in a policy field dominated by soft law, those allowing the customization of EU effect are chosen by Estonia. At the same time, EU is widening the choice of top-down mechanisms step by step. The application of Europeanization mechanisms is in line with both – the logic of appropriateness and the logic of consequentiality – thus justifying the choice of historical institutionalism as the theoretical framework of this Masters’ thesis.