The paper “ Decision Making in the European Union - towards a Framework for Analysis by Peterson John” is an excellent example of an article on politics. Peterson's article details how policy networks can be used to analyze the European Union policy-making process. This is informed by the fact that there exist gaps between the theoretical models that have tried to explain the varied patterns of European integration. This is happening behind the backdrop of the growing literature on policy-making within the EU. His article states that many types of policy networks exist in the EU mainly due to lack of institutions that can facilitate bargaining in addition to the fact that most decisions developed at policy formulations have a great influence on the final outcome of the policy.
The article groups the decision-making process at the EU into three levels. These include super systemic which are involved in history-making, systemic which is involved in policy setting and sub systemic which is involved in policy-shaping. Each of these levels uses different theories in carrying out its mandate. This paper reviews Peterson’ s article outlining main arguments, uniqueness, the strengths and weaknesses of the article.
Based on this review the paper makes a conclusion. The main argument of the articlePeterson argues in his article that in spite of the fact that there has been much literature on EU policies; the literature available does not address the problem of lack of coherent and theoretical framework necessary for understanding the policymaking process in European countries. He notes that the process and patterns of making policies vary from sector to sector. He provides a solution to this problem by suggesting the need for dissecting the policymaking process in the EU for a better understanding of the process.
He argues that macro frameworks have dominated the integration of the EU even though neo-realism is at the center of international relations. The domination of macro frameworks is viewed by Peterson as a way of overshadowing the process of decision making since people are concerned with making history which mainly sheds light on the system of governance that is in place in the EU. He further argues that sectoral analysis has relied mainly on explanatory models of policy networks in explaining networks instead of conceptualizing policy networks.
Thus Peterson concludes that due to this, discrepancies in theories that explain European integration patterns and those which explain the decision making at sectoral level in EU are wide. Peterson also criticizes the existing literature for failing to realize that as a form of governance EU needs to be compared to another system instead of assuming that it can only be compared to itself. Thus, Peterson's article proposes the use of policy networks for analyzing EU governance and integrates these policy networks within a theoretical framework to assist in comparing EU governance systems with other systems of governance.
He argues that this will ensure formidable bargaining between different participants at the sectoral level. In addition, he believes that this will ensure that decisions used to formulate the policies will determine the policy outcome. Peterson's article analyses the level, type of decision, dominant actors and rationality of the policymaking process. He points out three levels which include super systemic which are involved in history-making, systemic which is involved in policy setting and sub systemic which is involved in policy-shaping.
Actors at super systemic level include European council, national governments in IGCs and European court of justice. Actors at the systemic level include the council of ministers and committee of permanent representatives (COREPER). On the other hand, meso level actors include commission, committees and council groups. Peterson argues that policy formulation and eventual policy outcome linkage has been ignored in EU governance. He associates this neglect to over-reliance on theoretical tools that are associated with international relations instead of relying on theoretical tools associated with public administration.
He argues that many scholars who have applied rational choice have ignored meso level decision making because of its difficulty. Therefore, these scholars failed to realize the importance of the sub systemic level which is involved in policy-shaping. Peterson argues that the importance meso level decision making in the EU cannot be understated like in other systems of governance in the determination of policy outcomes and therefore it should not be ignored. Due to the lack of formal institutions that can help in bargaining, policy networks are very essential in the EU for this purpose.
Furthermore, Peterson argues that a better understanding of meso level decision making can help realize the usefulness of the network concept.