Agnes Batory, Andrew Cartwright and Diane Stone
In this introductory chapter to the volume, the authors examine on the one hand the concepts of policy transfer and policy diffusion and, on the other, the concept of policy failure and success within the general context of Europeanization in Central and Eastern Europe. They invite contributors to address two main sets of questions: To what degree was the policy/institution/idea under consideration transferred intact or modified? And did the resulting policy or institution come to be viewed as a success or failure, or somewhere in between? The chapters that follow highlight that policy ‘transfer’ processes are often non-linear and fuzzy and sometimes counter-intuitive, and point to the central importance of the views, interests and constellations of the domestic actors that filter and interpret international influences. In this sense, the CEE experience in the years since accession is as much about active and sometimes strategic policy imports and policy distortion and perhaps less about simple receipt and incorporation of external models.
Achim Kemmerling and Kristin Makszin
The recent literature on international policy diffusion and cross-border transfer mainly focuses on innovation and adoption of practices from abroad. But how sure are we that these transfers are stable over time? Whereas practitioners and academics are often concerned about too little change and political gridlock, problems of excessive policy change have received less attention. We define excessive policy change as a type of policy failure and ask how it is related to international policy diffusion. We investigate this relationship by looking at instances of (non-)reforms in welfare policies in Eastern Europe (including aspects of health, family, and pension policy). While not all cases of excessive policy change are due to diffusion and trans-border learning, we see that in many instances diffusion greatly contributed to the excessive policy volatility.
Dragos Adascalitei and Stefan Domonkos
This chapter analyzes pension privatization strategies and outcomes in two late-reforming countries: the Czech Republic and Romania. Using a set of pairwise comparisons between the Czech Republic and Slovakia, and Romania and Bulgaria, the chapter shows that privatization was initially imported into the region with the help of international actors and local policy-makers who perceived it as the only solution to demographic aging. Thus, early privatizers adopted variations of pension privatization closest to the World Bank’s ideal. By contrast, through learning, late reformers have deviated from early privatizers. While the decision to privatize among late reformers was determined by the ideological preferences of the policy-makers in charge of pensions, the specific policy choice in each case was adapted to fit the critiques raised by opponents of pension privatization. Late reformers specifically focused on problems experienced by their early-reformer neighbors, whom they perceived as best examples to learn from.
This chapter looks at norms translation processes in the field of domestic violence. Using data from five countries of Central Eastern Europe (CEE)—Bulgaria, Croatia, Hungary, Poland and Romania—it proposes a multi-pronged cross-directional international influence model that challenges traditional top-down understandings of international influence. The author argues that international influence is not direct, linear and top-down but constructed and negotiated in processes of interaction between international actors and domestic agents, where translation processes influence the direction of policy change. International influence provides content to reforms through defining, communicating and monitoring norms, and through facilitating the production of evidence for domestic violence as a policy problem. In order to understand the nature of international influence, we have to look beyond norms transfer at two additional mechanisms through which it impacts domestic policy processes. First, international influence can create ‘political opportunities’ to enable domestic mobilization for policy change. Second, domestic agents are key in the translation of international norms. Enabling such agency becomes critical in processes of norms translation. The chapter shows how international influence understood along these lines contributes to the variation in policy progress achieved in different contexts.
The chapter examines policy formations that are driven by the EU Framework and the National Roma Integration Strategies in 2011–2015 in four new member states of the EU: Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania, and Slovakia. It addresses the converging trends emerging in the four countries. It is argued that, by the time the EU Framework was established, the new member states had moved to selected learning modalities and pragmatic experimentalisms in the broader field of social inclusion. In the current European policy environment, in the field of Roma inclusion policies residual outcomes are generated by resilience and renewal of horizontal non-governmental networks, selective involvement of knowledge holders in policy decisions, and general governmental interest in the member states in avoiding large-scale and systemic governance failures.
In order to maximize access to the funds of the European Union (EU)’s cohesion policy, central governments have to adapt their regional development policies to EU regulations. This chapter traces this process of policy transfer in two Eastern member states, the Czech Republic and Hungary, since the early 1990s. The chapter shows that, in spite of the different initial conditions, the regional policies of both countries have converged over time while flexibly responding to the changing EU requirements. However, it was not the EU’s influence but domestic political interests that shaped policy convergence. The chapter demonstrates that similar policy responses can be adopted under the same external stimuli even when domestic circumstances differ and the external influence is not coercive. This also reveals the limitations of the EU in triggering domestic policy changes: in the absence of highly specified supranational legal requirements, member states are free to translate external expectations according to their own interests.
A new type of institution that appeared in post-communist Europe in the 1990s was the “Euroregion,” an association between local or regional authorities located close to a national border in two or more European countries. Most Euroregions in Central and Eastern Europe were modeled closely upon Western European examples, but the chapter argues that the motivations of the stakeholders at national and local government levels have become more important for the understanding and impact of these institutions than the original policy ideas behind the transferred institution, potentially leading to counter-productive effects in certain areas, such as the creation of nationality-transcending European identities. Whether the transfer (and translation) of this particular institution is judged as “failure,” “conflicted success” or “precarious success” is to some degree “in the eye of the beholder,” whether that be a transnational actor or a local agent.
The European Union has played a major role in restarting the international development policies of the East Central European member states of the European Union. However, questions remain as to whether the adoption of the new policies of international development cooperation can be regarded as a policy success or failure. Focusing on Hungary, this chapter introduces the reader to Hungarian international development policy since its (re-)creation prior to the accession to the European Union, and details to what degree the best practice recommendations by international organizations are being put into practice. The chapter concludes that Hungarian international development policy is showing signs of progress, for instance by slowly increasing aid volumes since 2012, codifying the Hungarian international development law, finding sectors of genuine comparative advantage and providing support through these sectors multiannually.
Liviu Matei, Daniela Craciun and Simona Torotcoi
The chapter addresses inconsistencies in understanding and evaluating the Bologna Process as an instance of policy transfer, of historic relevance, in post-communist Central and Eastern Europe. Ranging from resounding success to colossal failure, the assessment of the Process among both scholars and practitioners is highly incongruent. The chapter argues that these contradictory evaluations arise due to the existence of discrete, reductionist understandings of the Process which ignore its complex, almost ‘kaleidoscopic’ nature. Therefore, the chapter puts forward a comprehensive framework of reference which takes into account the nature, scope, intended objectives and means of the Process. Using this heuristic tool, it analyses the experience of Central and Eastern European countries in adopting Bologna-based policies, illustrating instances that are sometimes a definite success indeed, and sometimes a downright failure. The chapter shows the effectiveness of a particular heuristic tool in evaluating policy transfer success and failure.