The EU maritime transport policy in the 1990s : economic environment, policy actors and the common policies on safe seas and shortsea shipping.
This study sets out to investigate the factors that have determined the progress and
development of the Common EU Maritime Transport Policy (CMTP) in the 1990s, using
two case-studies which examine the progress of common policies on safe seas and shortsea
Drawing on the theoretical strands examining European integration, in particular
suggestions that an analytical emphasis on the involved policy actors is a helpful way to
understand the progress of the EU policies, the research concentrates on both the economic
environment of maritime transport and the interaction of policy makers and organised
interests during the policy making process. Employing insights from the neoinstitutional
account of comparative politics the thesis sets out to test the validity of accounts of EU
policy-making that put particular stress on the critical role of the EU institutions within this
process and, consequently, the advancement and content of EU level policies.
The research findings suggest an explanatory model of the progress of the CMTP which
focuses on the distinctive institutional dynamism of the EU, without being reductionist
insofar as the other policy actors or the economic context are concerned. It takes into
account, first, the vital role of the EU decision-making institutions and, second, the
mediation of the extant institutional framework on the activities of all the involved policy
actors. While the contextual economic internationalisation and the ineffectual policy
responses of the non-EU policy making levels have provided the stimulus for discussing
EU policy developments, the progress of the CMTP is found to be the outcome of a
dialectic relationship between national governments, interest groups, the EU institutions,
and their ideas. Within this relationship the EU institutions play a decisive role. These
results challenge previous conceptions of the CMTP as the outcome of intergovernmental
bargaining, or the product of an arena dominated by the variable powers of private actors.
Reflecting on the theoretical debate on European integration, the thesis concludes that an
internal EU policy arena with its own characteristics and complexity has grown
considerably and commends the neoinstitutionalist perspective as a useful analytical tool in
conceptualising EU policy developments.