Beyond the Spanish state? Relations between the EU, central government and domestic actors in Spain


This thesis examines relations between domestic actors and central government or the state during the EC accession negotiations and EC/EU membership in Spain. It presents three theoretical perspectives on the role of the state: a state-centric approach which focuses on the state as autonomous actor; a two-level game framework which considers the state as gatekeeper between the European and domestic arenas; and a multi-level governance perspective where the state becomes an arena in which a number of different actors participate. A dynamic approach to the analysis is adopted, highlighting sets of changing conditions in the Spanish political system expected to influence the access to policy-making for actors other than central government, which it terms the domestic opportunity structure. The analysis of the high level of state autonomy during the EC accession negotiations acts as an essential baseline for an examination of the policy process during EC/EU membership when the state's autonomy is expected to be reduced by a more open opportunity structure. This changed context is explored in the specific areas of cohesion policy and fisheries, when the input of domestic actors is seen to depend on the particular policy setting, the policy-making stage and the type of decision, termed the EU opportunity structure. A combination of theoretical approaches is considered necessary to explain the changing levels of opportunity. Given that considerable evidence exists for the state's retention of its role as key decision-maker in the policy process, this thesis concludes that the state-centric approach is still relevant to the case of Spain. However, at certain stages of the process, particular sets of actors have gained greater access to policy-making during EC/EU membership, as illustrated by the increasing involvement of regional authorities in the implementation of the structural funds, thus indicating that theoretical insights which place greater emphasis on the influence of domestic actors other than. the state may be needed to supplement a purely statist approach

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Last time updated on 26/03/2020

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