Changing Incentives and Strategies of National Governments in Multilevel Governance across the European Union

Changing Incentives and Strategies of National Governments in Multilevel Governance across the European Union

Busygina I.M.,

Director of the Center for Comparative Governance Studies, Professor, Department of Applied Politics, National Research University Higher School of Economics in Saint Petersburg,

elibrary_id: 250043 | ORCID: 0000-0001-9866-9738 | RESEARCHER_ID: R-6747-2017

Filippov M.G.,

Professor, Department of Political Science, State University of New York in Binghamton, USA,

ORCID: 0000-0001-8551-6724 |

DOI: 10.17976/jpps/2020.05.11

For citation:

Busygina I.M., Filippov M.G. Changing Incentives and Strategies of National Governments in Multilevel Governance across the European Union. – Polis. Political Studies. 2020. No. 5. P. 148-163. (In Russ.).

This article is an output of a research project implemented as part of the Basic Research Program at the National Research University Higher School of Economics (HSE University)


Decision-making mechanisms are becoming increasingly complex in the era of globalization, including more and more actors of different natures. The multilevel governance approach, as a promising analytical instrument that focuses on adapting decision-making processes to territories/sectors with multiple jurisdictions, has been recognized both due to its limitations in the explanatory power of normative integration theories as well as due to empirical studies of European integration. This approach provides better explanations for the strategies of political actors in the European Union in situations when the same actor uses different strategies at different institutional levels – supranational, national, and regional. Being autonomous, these levels are strategically interconnected: key actors take into account the consequences of interaction at all levels, but attach different priorities (weights) to the results of various “games”. Depending on the opportunities for collaboration at various levels and the perceived relative importance of the achievable results at each level, such links between games can lead to strategies that may seem suboptimal to outsiders. In this article, we consider the strategies of the national governments of EU member states, studying the cases of external decision-making as well as cohesion policy using the multilevel governance approach. 

multilevel governance, European Union, national governments, cohesion policy, sanctions.


Bache I. 1998. Politics of European Union Regional Policy: Multi-Level Governance or Flexible Gatekeeping? Sheffield, UK: Sheffield Academic Press.

Bache I., Bartle I., Flinders M. 2016. Multi-Level Governance. – Handbook on Theories of Governance. Ed. by C. Ansell, J. Torfing. Cheltenham, United Kingdom: Edward Elgar Publishing. P. 486-498.

Benz A., Zimmer C. 2010. The EU’s Competences: The ‘Vertical’ Perspective on the Multilevel System. – Living Reviews in European Governance. Vol. 5. No. 1. P. 1-31.

Borzel T.A. 2003. Shaping and Taking EU Policies: Member State Responses to Europeanization. – Queen’s Papers on Europeanisation. No. 2.

Borzel T.A., Risse T. 2019. Grand Theories of Integration and the Challenges of Comparative Regionalism. – Journal of European Public Policy. Vol. 26. No. 8. P. 1231-1252.

Bruszt L. 2005. Governing Sub-National/Regional Institutional Change: Evolution of Regional (Sub-National) Development Regimes-Challenges for Institution Building in the Cee Countries and Sub-National Institutional Experimentation. Budapest: Central European University.

Bruszt L. 2008. Multi-Level Governance – the Eastern Versions: Emerging Patterns of Regional Developmental Governance in the New Member States. – Regional & Federal Studies. Vol. 18. No. 5. P. 607-627.

Busygina I., Filippov M. 2008. EU–Russian Relations and the Limits of the Northern Dimension. – The New Northern Dimension of the European Neighbourhood. Ed. by P. Aalto, H. Blakkisrud, H. Smith. Brussels: Centre for European Policy Studies. P. 204-220.

Cairney P., Heikkila T., Wood M. 2019. Making Policy in a Complex World. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Chacha M. 2020. European Union Membership Status and Decentralization: A Top-Down Approach. – Regional & Federal Studies. Vol. 30. No. 1. P. 1-23.

Cowles M.G., Caporaso J.A., Risse-Kappen T. 2001. Transforming Europe: Europeanization and Domestic Change. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.

Crescenzi R., Giua M. 2020. One or Many Cohesion Policies of the European Union? On the Differential Economic Impacts of Cohesion Policy across Member States. – Regional Studies. Vol. 54. No. 1. P. 10-20.

Cross M.K.D., Karolewski I.P. 2017. What Type of Power Has the EU Exercised in the Ukraine–Russia Crisis? A Framework of Analysis. – JCMS: Journal of Common Market Studies. Vol. 55. No. 1. P. 3-19.

David M., Romanova T. 2019. The EU in Russia’s House of Mirrors. – JCMS: Journal of Common Market Studies. Vol. 57. No. S1. P. 128-140.

Dornisch D. 2002. The Evolution of Post-Socialist Projects: Downsizing, Diversification and Investment in a Polish Region. – Regional Studies. Vol. 36. No. 3. P. 307-328.

Garben S. 2019. Competence Creep Revisited. – JCMS: Journal of Common Market Studies. Vol. 57. No. 2. P. 205-222.

Giumelli F. 2013. Beyond Intergovernmentalism: The Europeanization of Restrictive Measures? – Journal of Contemporary European Research. Vol. 9. No. 3. P. 390‐405.

Goetz K.H. 2000. European Integration and National Executives: A Cause in Search of an Effect? – West European Politics. Vol. 23. No. 4. P. 211-231.

Gower J., Timmins G. 2013. The European Union, Russia and the Shared Neighbourhood. New York: Routledge.

Harmes A. 2019. The Politics of Fiscal Federalism: Neoliberalism Versus Social Democracy in Multilevel Governance. Montreal, Canada: McGill – Queen’s University Press.

Heisenberg D. 2005. The Institution of ‘Consensus’ in the European Union: Formal Versus Informal Decision-Making in the Council. – European Journal of Political Research. Vol. 44. No. 1. P. 65-90.

Herranz-Surralles A. 2014. The Eu’s Multilevel Parliamentary (Battle)Field: Inter-Parliamentary Cooperation and Conflict in Foreign and Security Policy. – West European Politics. Vol. 37. No. 5. P. 957-975.

Hooghe L. 1996. Cohesion Policy and European Integration: Building Multi-Level Governance. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Hooghe L., Lenz T., Marks G. 2019. A Theory of International Organization. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Hooghe L., Marks G. 2003. Unraveling the Central State, but How? Types of Multi-Level Governance. – American Political Science Review. Vol. 97. No. 2. P. 233-243. Polis. Political Studies. 2020. No. 5. P. 148-163

Hooghe L., Marks G. 2016. Community, Scale, and Regional Governance: A Postfunctionalist Theory of Governance. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Hooghe L., Marks G., Schakel A.H. 2020. Multilevel Governance. – Comparative Politics. Ed. by D. Caramani. Oxford: Oxford University Press. P. 193-210.

Huber W. 2011. Federal Coordination: Policy Making Beyond Command and Control. Ostroda, Poland: Seminar on Territorial Dimension of Development Policy.

Jorgensen K.E., Aarstad A.K., Drieskens E., Laatikainen K., Tonra B. 2015. The Sage Handbook of European Foreign Policy. New York: Sage.

Lehne S. 2017. Is There Hope for the EU Foreign Policy. Carnegie Endoement for the International Peace.

Leibfried S., Huber E., Lange M., Levy J.D., Nullmeier F., Stephens J.D. 2015. The Oxford Handbook of Transformations of the State. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Leon S., Jurado I. 2020. Multilevel Governance in Spain. – The Oxford Handbook of Spanish Politics. Ed. by D. Muro, I. Lago. Oxford: Oxford University Press. P. 224-240.

Lewis J. 2019. Eu Council Networks and the “Tradition” of Consensus. – Decentring European Governance. Ed. by M. Bevir, R. Phillips. New York: Routledge. P. 122-143.

Macaj G., Nicolaidis K. 2014. Beyond ‘One Voice’? Global Europe’s Engagement with Its Own Diversity. – Journal of European Public Policy. Vol. 21. No. 7. P. 1067-1083.

Marks G. 1993. Structural Policy and Multilevel Governance in the Ec. – The Maastricht Debates and Beyond Ed. by A. Cafruny, G. Rosenthal. Boulder: Lynne Rienner. P. 391-410.

Marks G., Hooghe L., Blank K. 1996. European Integration from the 1980s: State‐Centric V. Multi‐Level Governance. – JCMS: Journal of Common Market Studies. Vol. 34. No. 3. P. 341-378.

Mastenbroek E. 2018. Europeanization of Policies and Administration. – The Palgrave Handbook of Public Administration and Management in Europe. Ed. by E. Ongaro, S.V. Thiel. Berlin, Germany: Springer. P. 823-840.

McDermott G. A. 2002. Embedded Politics: Industrial Networks and Institutional Change in Postcommunism. Ann Arbor, Michigan: University of Michigan Press.

Moravcsik A. 1994. Why the European Community Strengthen the State: Domestic Politics and International Cooperation. CES Working Paper. No. 52. Center for Economic Studies.

Panizzon M., van Riemsdijk M. 2019. Introduction to Special Issue: ‘Migration Governance in an Era of Large Movements: A Multi-Level Approach’. – Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies. Vol. 45. No. 8. P. 1225-1241.

Portela C. 2012. European Union Sanctions and Foreign Policy: When and Why Do They Work? New York: Routledge.

Sapir A. 2003. An Agenda for a Growing Europe: Making the EU Economic System Deliver: Report of an Independent High-Level Study Group Established on the Initiative of the President of the European Communities. Brussels: European Commission.

Saurugger S. 2013. Theoretical Approaches to European Integration. New York: Macmillan International.

Schakel A.H., Hooghe L., Marks G. 2015. Multilevel Governance and the State. – The Oxford Handbook of Transformations of the State. Ed. by S. Leibfried, E. Hube, M. Lange, J. D. Levy, F. Nullmeier, J.D.P. Stephens. P. 269-285.

Scharpf F.W. 2001. Notes toward a Theory of Multilevel Governing in Europe. – Scandinavian Political Studies. Vol. 24. No. 1. P. 1-26.

Schumacher T., Marchetti A., Demmelhuber T. 2017. The Routledge Handbook on the European Neighbourhood Policy. New York: Routledge.

Shapovalova N. 2019. Lobbying and Interest Group Influence in EU Foreign Policy. – Lobbying in the European Union: Strategies, Dynamics and Trends. Ed. by D. Dialer, M. Richter. Berlin: Springer. P. 425-434.

Sjursen H., Rosen G. 2017. Arguing Sanctions. On the EU’s Response to the Crisis in Ukraine. – JCMS: Journal of Common Market Studies. Vol. 55. No. 1. P. 20-36.

Smith M. 2004. Toward a Theory of EU Foreign Policy-Making: Multi-Level Governance, Domestic Politics, and National Adaptation to Europe’s Common Foreign and Security Policy. – Journal of European Public Policy. Vol. 11. No. 4. P. 740-758.

Stephenson P. 2013. Twenty Years of Multi-Level Governance:‘Where Does It Come From? What Is It? Where Is It Going?’. – Journal of European Public Policy. Vol. 20. No. 6. P. 817-837.

Stetter S. 2004. Cross-Pillar Politics: Functional Unity and Institutional Fragmentation of EU Foreign Policies. – Journal of European Public Policy. Vol. 11. No. 4. P. 720-739.

Szep V. 2019. New Intergovernmentalism Meets EU Sanctions Policy: The European Council Orchestrates the Restrictive Measures Imposed against Russia. – Journal of European Integration. P. 1-17.

Tatham M. 2011. Devolution and Eu Policy-Shaping: Bridging the Gap between Multi-Level Governance and Liberal Intergovernmentalism. – European Political Science Review. Vol. 3. No. 1. P. 53-81.

Thomson R., Torenvlied R., Judge A. 2019. Incentives to Comply: The Impact of National Governments’ and Stakeholders’ Preferences on Compliance with Eu Laws. – Journal of European Public Policy. P. 1-18.

Todtling-Schonhofer H., Radzyner A., Frangenheim A., Bachtler J., Mendez C., Charles D., Granqvist K. 2013. An Assessment of Multilevel Governance in Cohesion Policy, 2007-2013. Brussels: European Parliament.

Tulumello S. 2016. Multi-Level Territorial Governance and Cohesion Policy: Structural Funds and the Timing of Development in Palermo and the Italian Mezzogiorno. – European Journal of Spatial Development. No. 62. P. 1-23.

Van Elsuwege P. 2016. The Northern Dimension. – The European Neighbourhood Policy in a Comparative Perspective: Models, Challenges, Lessons. Ed. by S. Gstohl. New York: Routledge. P. 92-104.

Voltolini B. 2015. Lobbying in EU Foreign Policy-Making: The Case of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. New York: Routledge.

Warleigh A. 2006. Conceptual Combinations: Multilevel Governance and Policy Networks. – Palgrave Advances in European Union Studies. London: Basingstoke Palgrave Macmillan. P. 77-95.

White J. 2014. Politicizing Europe: The Challenge of Executive Discretion. – Democratic Politics in a European Union under Stress. Ed. by O. Cramme, S.B. Hobolt. Oxford: Oxford University Press. P. 87-102.


Busygina I., Filippov M. 2010. European Union: from Specific to General. – Russia in Global Affairs. No. 1. P. 121-133.

Gromoglasova E.S. 2009. Theory and Practice of Political Governance in the European Union. Moscow: IMEMO RAS.

Novosad T. 2019. EU Decision-Making Mechanisms: Current Trends. – Contemporary Europe. No. 3. P. 190-196.

Savorskaya E.V. 2012. Policy Networks in the European Union. – Vestnik of Lobachevsky University of Nizhni Novgorod. No. 4. P. 368-373.

Strezhneva M.V. 2009. International Organizations and International Integration. – Moscow University Bulletin. Series. 25. International Relations and World Politics. No. 1. P. 28-45. URL: (accessed 12.07.2020).

Chikharev I., Romanova M. 2011. The Idea and Basic Concepts of Multi-Level Governance in a World Political Discourse. – Moscow University Bulletin. Series 12. Political Science. No. 5. P. 3-16. 

Content No. 5, 2020

See also:

Strezhneva M.V.,
Make-up of fiscal integration in the European Union. – Polis. Political Studies. 2024. No2

Strezhneva M.V.,
European Union in political management of global finance. – Polis. Political Studies. 2014. No2

Suvakovic U.,
Political parties as traditional mechanisms of representation in modern societies. – Polis. Political Studies. 2010. No2

Chimiris Ye.S.,
The Policy of the European Union in International Conflicts: with the Attempted Settlement of the Relations between Serbia and Montenegro as Example. – Polis. Political Studies. 2007. No4

Ratz M.V.,
Policy, management, power: a conceptual project of the system of (the state’s) organizational/managerial activities. – Polis. Political Studies. 2013. No2



   2024      2023      2022      2021   
   2020      2019      2018      2017      2016   
   2015      2014      2013      2012      2011   
   2010      2009      2008      2007      2006   
   2005      2004      2003      2002      2001   
   2000      1999      1998      1997      1996   
   1995      1994      1993      1992      1991