Polity-making without Policy-making: European Union Healthcare Services Policy

Scott Greer

in Constructing a Policy-Making State?

Published in print September 2012 | ISBN: 9780199604104
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191741531 | DOI:
Polity-making without Policy-making: European Union Healthcare Services Policy

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European Union health care policy looks like an important and growing field from the perspective of Brussels: case law, legislation, lobbyists, intra-Commission disputes and all of the other signs of a European Union policy sector. From the perspective of health systems, it seems rather less dramatic: considerable worries, but very little practical effect. This chapter resolves the paradox of impact in Brussels and limited consequences by arguing that EU health care law is a case of destabilization rights and restabilization politics. Health care decisions by the ECJ destabilized the legal environment for member states and their health care systems. They responded with limited compliance and considerable lobbying, putting their focus on changing the destabilizing law in Brussels. This has implications for theories on three different topics: European integration, European policymaking, and Europeanization. For European integration, it is a perfect case of political neofunctionalism; the Court created an EU policy issue, and opponents were obliged to lobby and legislate in Brussels. For theories of European policymaking it shows the extent to which the EU broadly maintains inequalities of power, though giving some policy networks new opportunities. For studies of Europeanization, it shows the extent to which it depends on political coalitions in the member states that seek change.

Keywords: health policy; destabilization rights; restabilization rights; lobbying; ECJ

Chapter.  10067 words. 

Subjects: European Union

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