Bologna Process, Jessica Kingsley, Commission, London, Europe, higher education policy, the Council, European University, Lisbon strategy, agenda setting, Education Committee, Council of Ministers, policy development, universities, BFUG, European Union, Maurice Kogan, European Community, European Commission, Continuity and Change, education and culture, action programme, Community, European Journal of Education, European Higher Education Area, European Integration, institutions, EU institutions, higher education policy developments, Bologna, Comparative Study, policy developments, Transforming Higher Education, Ministers of Education, J. Wittenbrinck, European Communities, national frameworks, European Public Policy, European University Institute, Baden-Baden, University of Chicago Press, European Cultural Convention, Eds S. Andersen, Hywel Ceri Jones, European Parliament, International Public Management Journal, The Commission, higher education institutions, education system
Higher Education as a Form of European integration
: How Novel is the Bologna Process? Anne Corbett Working Paper No. 15, December 2006 Working Papers can be downloaded from the ARENA homepage: http://www.arena.uio.no
2 Abstract This paper argues that at a time in which higher education has become central to the concerns of EU institutions as well as national government
s, it is helpful to understand current policy initiatives - both the spin offs from the EU's Lisbon strategy and the intergovernmental Bologna Process in the comparative terms of the dynamics of policy-making. Drawing on institutionalist frameworks biased towards process (Kingdon 1984, March and Olsen 1989, Barzelay 2003) and comparative historical analysis, it presents policy initiatives from the period 195587, including the supranational European University proposal and the Erasmus programme, as both historical events, and theorised configurations of agenda setting, alternative specification, and choice. It suggests that such a framework can be helpful to both those interested primarily in European integration and those whose interests lie in the dynamics of higher Education policy
-making in a multi-level setting.
3 1. Introduction Studies of the dynamics of policy change in the European Union
have in general ignored the dynamics of higher education. Although there are signs of change in research now under way not least here in Norway and among colleagues networked with your research centres 1- the literature has been lacking in the studies which can set the Europeanisation processes in higher education in a comparative policy context. The literature is also poor in studies which help us to relate the current higher education policy development
s to previous policymaking in higher education at a European level. 2 Yet as the Commission regularly reminds us,3 higher education has never been so high on the agenda of European governments. A significant EU momentum in favour of stronger university systems has emerged from the instrumental concerns of EU institutions with the Lisbon strategy to create a `Europe of Knowledge'. Universities with their mass of intellectual resource and their functional involvement in the knowledge creation
, the teaching, the training in techniques of learning and research, and the stimulus they can give to local and regional economies, hold many of the keys to an expanding knowledge economy. They are avidly courted by the Commission which has expanded its higher education activities out of all recognition thanks to linkage to the Lisbon strategy, and some long-awaited synergy between its education and its research arms.4 However it is not only the EU member states which view universities as strategic resources. Since 1999, in signing up to the Bologna Process, the governments of a greater Europe, stretching east to Russia and Azerbaijan, are part of an astonishing consensus favouring a degree of regional integration of their higher education system
s. They all want to raise the quality of national systems. Most want to attract the best foreign students and scholars. They believe they will achieve their aims best by cooperating and competing in a European Higher Education Area which is characterised by some common characteristics. How and why has this European dimension of higher education policy developed and been expanded? The literature, in general, sees no Community interest in higher education before the early 1970s. EC education interest is seen to start in 1971, when ministers of education of the member states met for the first time within EC institutions and made the decision to cooperate, or in 1974 76 when ministers of education took the first steps on a path which was to lead to the creation of the well-known Erasmus programme for student mobility, and other programmes since re-grouped under the umbrella of the Socrates programme.5 Major research interest in higher education did not emerge till the 1980s. It was inspired by policy developments in higher education being authorised on the basis of an unexpected range of Community law, following on European Court of Justice rulings. The issue of whether and how education 1 Bleiklie, 2005, Musselin, 2005; Gornitzka and Olsen, 2006, 2 This is work in progress. An earlier version was presented at the Douro6 seminar. 3 Figel, 2006; European Commission,2003,2005, 2006 4 Gornitzka,work in progress. Commission webpages: http://europa.eu/scadplus/leg/en/cha/c11087.htm 5 These programmes will become part of the Integrated Action Programme in lifelong learning
4 might feature in the Treaty of European Union, was also a source of interest.6 These events drove two major questions. Were the nation states able to retain their sovereignty over education? Or were we witnessing, in Mark Pollack's phrase, the `creeping competence' of the Community?7 The Treaty of Maastricht, 1991, which for the first time defined an EU role in relation to education, provided at least a formal and dual answer. Sovereignty was confirmed; and the EU had a promotional role in developing `quality' in education. A number of later studies have continued within the same frame of concern about nationally sensitive areas.8 My questions, in contrast, are primarily concerned with policy-making processes and some of the issues which arise when policy-making is studied over time. How and why have the EU and other forms of European governance, developed and continue to develop a higher education policy? Might the findings be of interest to those studying the Bologna Process, and Europeanisation more widely? I follow the view of those who argue that we severely limit our understanding of higher education policy developments if we do not bring conceptual lenses to bear from mainstream political science
,9 and, furthermore, we lose the opportunity for comparison between policy sectors. Hence in this paper I suggest that a way of judging the `novelty' of the Bologna Process and other higher education developments is to link them to a major theoretical preoccupation of political science, and to treat European policy development in higher education as a case of policy change. The obvious theoretical frame might have been historical institutionalism. In any study which is likely to cover a significant time period, there are obvious benefits in understanding a flow of policy as path-dependent, and how and why critical junctures appear.10 But as Dyson and Featherstone observed in their study of EMU11 - a book I have regarded as an inspiration - if you immerse yourself in the historical material, traditional causal models of decision-making offer little guidance.12 Among the challenges they identified was how to incorporate into an account of the process `flesh and blood people' whose beliefs and knowledge and likes and dislikes were important to policy dynamics. I have taken a more structuralist view than they do, in trying to understand how political processes structure the relationship between institutions and individual action, and taken as the default, a view of the decision-making which assumes a match between situation, action and identity.13 I have argued elsewhere that the Kingdon model of multiple streams and windows of opportunity14 is both compatible with this framing, and an effective 6 de Witte 1989,1993, Beukel 1993, 2000, Field 1996, Shaw 1998 7 Pollack 1996 8 Beukel 2000 9 Bauer et al 2000, Kogan 2000, Bleiklie and Kogan 2000, Bleiklie 2005 10 Thelen and Steinmo 1993; Pierson 1996 . See also Ravinet 2005 11 Dyson and Featherstone 1999:ix 12 A possible line for future work is to see these issues in terms of comparative historical analysis as argued in social science terms by Thelen,2003, Mahoney and Rueschmeyer. 13 March and Olsen 1989. 14 Kingdon  1995 conceives of the policy process as three streams; problems, policies and politics, each with their own dynamics. These are problems to which governments understand they
5 way of marshalling material for such a study.15 The Kingdon model sets out to explain how a policy idea advances through linkages between three processes (or `streams') with different dynamics: problem definition, policy formulation and the evolution of political mood. The model assumes a broad conception of institutions characterised by informal, as well as formal, rules, and has a conception of actors' interventions as governed by both opportunity factors they do not control and frames of meaning which they do. I take a valuable part of the Kingdon model to be not the famous `streams',16 but the interactive conception of the policy process as a policy cycle in which ideas are formed and re-formed as the policy idea designed to resolve a problem advances (or stumbles) through categorically different components of the cycle. These components are agenda setting, alternative specification and choice. The model assumes that how and why a policy idea advances, or not, depends on the political and policy opportunities for ambitious and well-placed individuals (policy entrepreneurs) who expend exceptional amounts of energy and skill to push an issue towards decision. The richness of the model is that it combines the systemic and the situational.17 So under the umbrella of `what accounts for the dynamics - stability and change - in EU and Bologna HE policies' this account sets out to answer `Kingdon' questions to help us to assess past policy-making in alight which might be appropriate to Bologna policy-making too.. Those raised here are `how does the agenda setting process work? How does the policy development process (alternative specification) work? How are policy alternatives selected during the decision phase? In this paper, I first introduce the Bologna Process, then apply the research questions to three policy cycles identified in my earlier research on higher education policy-making by European institutions. The dynamics of policy initiation, evolution and outcome are compared. The discussion which follows focuses on the aspects of the process which seem most relevant to the Bologna Process. 2. The Bologna Process The Bologna Process was launched in 1999 as an intergovernmental process distinct from any EU (and in particular Commission) activity on higher education. It took the form of a declaration by ministers responsible for higher education that they would create a European Higher Education Area by 2010.18 By signing up to the Declaration, then and later, ministers have specifically committed their governments to support the values of academic freedom, autonomy and social responsibility
incorporated in the universities' own Magna must devote attention, policies as solutions to the problems (whether formulated before or after the problem is noticed) and politics being the political climate. 15 Corbett 2005. 16 Zahariadis 1999 takes a different view. 17 Barzelay and Gallego 2006 who use the phrase `institutional processualism' to characterise an approach which re-works Kingdon to understand policy-making and policy change in public management with more attention to policy making phases, social mechanisms and agency. 18 This followed a call from four ministers of higher education, on the occasion of celebrations for the 900th anniversary of the Sorbonne, to create a European Higher Education Area.
6 Charta of 198819 and to introduce six measures into their national higher education systems. The Declaration immediately attracted 29 signatories, including a number from non-EU governments. Their commitments were to adopt a system of `easily readable and comparable' degrees; a degree system based on two independent cycles, differentiated between undergraduate and postgraduate study (a commitment later revised to three cycles, differentiating masters and doctorate levels); to underpin a system of credits, to promote cooperation in quality assurance; and to promote a European dimension to higher education, for example introducing a European element to curriculum development, and establishing joint degrees. Ministers agreed to meet two years later in Prague. In Prague, in 2001, ministers - by this time 33- agreed to support the strategy of lifelong learning as it affected higher education, to recognise higher education and students as partners in the process of creating the European Higher Education Area, and to promote the attractiveness of the EHEA to other parts of the world. Furthermore they responded to widely expressed fears about privatisation by declaring that higher education was to be considered a public good.20 In Berlin, in 2003, 40 ministers committed to developing synergies between the European Higher Education Area and the EU's Education Research
Area, by including the doctoral cycle as the third cycle of the Bologna Process. They also recognised the importance of the social dimension in higher education policy. In Bergen, in 2005, ministers made a mid-term assessment of the process their priority. They took as core issues the degree system, quality assurance and recognition of degree and study periods. The synergies between higher education and research, the social dimension as `a constituent part of the EHEA and a necessary condition of the attractiveness and competitiveness of the EHEA'; mobility; and cooperation with other parts of the world were all categorised as further challenges.. Ministers foresaw that by the time of their subsequent summit, fixed for London in May 2007, they would have completed the implementation of the three priorities for contributing to Europe's competitiveness. Mobility and the social dimension would feature as the next priorities. This would be in the spirit of a European Higher Education Area, based on the principles of quality and transparency, a cherishing of Table 1a: The Bologna Process commitments Introduced in the Bologna declaration 1999 1. Adoption of a system of easily readable and comparable degrees 2. Adoption of a system essentially based on two cycles 3. Establishment of a system of credits 4. Promotion of mobility 5. Promotion of European co-operation in quality assurance 19 The Magna Charta Universitatum signed in Bologna in 1988 www.magna-charta.org 20The ministerial communiquйs are to be found on the official Bologna website for 2005 www.bologna-bergen.no . The secretariat website for the upcoming London conference is at www.dfes.gov.uk/bologna/
7 6. Promotion of the European dimension in higher education Introduced in the Prague Communiquй 2001 7. Lifelong learning 8. Higher education institutions and students 9. Promoting the attractiveness of the European Higher Education Area Introduced in the Berlin Communiquй 2003 10. Doctoral studies and the synergy between the EHEA and ERA (educational research
Area) The social dimension of higher education might be seen as an overarching or transversal action line Table 1b Bologna Process intermediate priorities introduced in the Berlin Communiquй 2003 Quality assurance The need to develop mutually agreed criteria and methodologies. National systems to include a system of accreditation The two-cycle degree system The development of an overarching framework of qualifications The recognition of degrees and periods of study The Lisbon Recognition Convention to be ratified by all countries participating in the Bologna Process. Every student graduating from 2005 to receive a Diploma Supplement automatically, and free of charge Stocktaking report to be presented at Bergen 2005 Table 1c Bologna Priorities Introduced in the Bergen Communiquй 2005 Quality assurance Almost all countries have made provision for quality assurance system based on the criteria set out in the Berlin Communiquй. However there is still progress to be made in particular as regards student involvement and international cooperation
...We urge higher education institutions to ..enhance the quality of their activities through the systematic introduction of internal mechanisms and their direct correlation to external quality assurance. We adopt the standards and guidelines for quality assurance in the EHEA as proposed by ENQA The two-cycle degree system We note with satisfaction that the two-cycle degree system is being implemented on a large scale with more than half the students being enrolled in it in most counties. We adopt the overarching framework of qualifications comprising three cycles (including within national contexts, the possibility of intermediate qualifications), generic descriptors We underline the importance of ensuring complementarity between the overarching framework for the EHEA and the proposed broader framework for qualifications for life long learning The recognition of degrees and periods of study We note that 36 of the 45 participating countries have now ratified the Lisbon Recognition Convention to be ratified by all countries participating in the Bologna Process...We commit ourselves to the full implementation of its principles.. We call on all participating countries to address recognition problems identified by the ENIC/NARIC networks Every student graduating from 2005 to receive a Diploma Supplement automatically, and free of charge
Table 1d Stocktaking report to be presented at the London ministerial meeting, 2007 · Implementation of the standards and guidelines for quality assurance as proposed in the ENQA report · Implementation of the national frameworks for qualifications as proposed in the ENQA report · Implementation of the national frameworks for qualifications · The awarding and recognition of joint degrees, including at the doctorate level · Creating opportunities for flexible learning paths in higher education, including procedures for the recognition of lifelong learning · The presentation of comparable data on the mobility of staff and students, and the social and economic situation of students in participating countries · We shall have to consider the follow-up process beyond 2010
`the rich heritage of Europe' and its cultural diversity, the principle of public responsibility and the necessary autonomy for higher education institutions. The rule-making associated with the Bologna Process is that decisions are non-binding and intergovernmental, made in the ministerial summits which take place every two years. The follow-up process, the overall steering and the preparation of subsequent summits is entrusted to the Bologna Follow-Up Group, which meets twice a year. The BFUG consists of representatives of all the signatories and the Commission, which became a member in 2001, and the consultative bodies.21 The chair is held by the EU presidency, with the host of the forthcoming ministerial summit as vice chair. A Board carries responsibility for the Bologna Process between meetings of the BFUG. Its composition is the triumvirate of EU presidencies (past,
Table 2: The Bologna Process: signatories and conditions
Signatories numbers States
Sorbonne 1998 4
Bologna 1999 29
Prague 2001 33
France, Germany, Italy, United Kingdom
Belgium (Fr), Czech Rep,
Finland, Greece, Hungary,
Iceland, Ireland, Latvia,
Malta, the Netherlands,
Norway, Poland, Portugal,
Romania, Slovak Rep.,
Slovenia, Spain, Sweden,
+Croatia, Cyprus, Turkey
Berlin 2003 40
Bergen 2005 45
+ Armenia, Azerbaijan , Georgia, Moldova
21 These are the representatives of higher education institutions (EUA and EURASHE) and of students (ESIB) representatives, the Council of Europe
, CEPES -the UNESCO higher education centre in Romania, and since 2005, representatives of the social partners (the EU employers' body, UNICE and the European grouping of the academic representative body, EI) and also the European umbrella body for quality assurance, ENQA.
Special status Consultativ e members Conditions for signatory status
Parties to the European Cultural Convention
+ EI ENQA UNICE
present and future), three participating countries elected by the BFUG for one year, and the Commission. The consultative members also have a place on the Board. Both Board and BFUG can convene working groups. There is no permanent secretariat. The task is assumed by the host of the forthcoming ministerial conference. Given that the Bologna Process is fundamentally inter-governmental, its decision-making is non-binding. It does not directly address the transformation of the national higher education settings within Europe. It does not try to modify the status of universities. It does not aim to transform state-university relationships, nor the management of the academic profession. It does not state how to allocate budgets. Its aim is to change the `products' of higher education (degrees etc) by transforming the process of higher education.22 This model for change is being imposed in a domain where there is already significant higher education policy activity, under the auspices of the EU. How and why the EU has become involved is the issue for the next section.
3. Policy development: 1955 -1987 In taking a Kingdon-style policy cycle view of the development of higher education activity at EU level, four major policy `events' can be observed in the years 1955 and 1987: a cycle trying to establish a supranational European University ended in failure in 1961; a cycle to establish more modestly a European University Institute culminated in the 1972 Treaty establishing such an institute in Florence; a cycle to create an action programme in education, under EC and intergovernmental rules, emerged as a `dual' resolution, and the cycle dedicated to creating a EC programme for student mobility and exchange emerged triumphantly in the Erasmus Decision of 1987.23 I present here a brief account of the policy activity designed to produce the European University, the action programme in education and the Erasmus decision.
22 Cf C. Musselin: paper presented at Douro6 seminar, Sept 2006. 23 EC Bulletins 1961/7-8, 1971/11; Official Journal C 38, 19.02.1976; Official Journal L 166, 25.06.1987
10 The European University proposal In 1961, heads of government ended the power of the EC over education. At a meeting in Paris of heads of government, called by General de Gaulle in February 1961 and the Summit held in Bonn on July 18, 1961, heads of state
and government agreed that education and culture and inter alia the European University - should be treated as matters for national, not supranational policymaking, just like foreign affairs and defence. At the July meeting, they made two decisions affecting education. The first, made over the head of the Italians, was that a project for a European University should be their exclusive responsibility, i.e., they would have to shoulder any costs and all the responsibility - not a bonne dйcision for the Italians as their ambassador remarked.24 The second one was that the ministers of education of EC member states should meet periodically to negotiate intergovernmental conventions on issues affecting higher education. Those 1961 decisions can be seen as the outcome of a major policy cycle which started in 1955. The foreign ministers meeting in Messina in June 1955 to consider whether there was enough common ground between their governments to try setting up two new European Communities, in addition to the European Coal and Steel Community, received a late paper from the government of the Federal Republic of Germany proposing the establishment of a European University. It stated that the `Federal Government
hopes to show that tangible testimony to young people of the desire for European union through the foundation of a European University to be created by the six ECSC states'.25 The case was developed with some determination by the chief German negotiator, Walter Hallstein, himself a public law specialist, former rector, and the future president of the first European Commission. Although it initially looked doubtful if the issue would get on to the foreign ministers' agenda, it did survive to the Treaty stage. Since the Belgian chairman, Paul-Henri Spaak, did not rule the proposal out of order, under the procedures it became an issue for negotiation. Faced with the determination of Hallstein, and the French, who were backing a proposal for an atomic energy training and research institute,26 officials worked on a formula which would cover the two. They also made a choice with far-reaching consequences. They linked the issue of a Community university institution to the Atomic Energy Community rather than the Economic Community. We have all forgotten the Euratom Treaty. But its Article 9 (2) should be recognised as part of European higher education history. It reads `an institution of university status shall be established, and the way in which it will function shall be determined by the Council acting by qualified majority on a proposal from the Commission.' Moreover, article 216 called on the Commission to submit proposals within a year of the treaty coming into force. Once the Treaty was operative, the question of policy formulation was a priority. The ambiguities of Article 9(2) designed to avoid conflict were difficult 24 The words of the head of the Italian foreign office are quoted in Palayret 1996:121 25 Palayret 1996:43 Palayret, director of the ECHA, gives an archive-based account (Palayret 1996), of Messina and the early years as they affected the European University Institute, an account for which all students of these years must be grateful. 26 Similar to that set up under the ECSC,see Palayret
11 to turn into a concrete proposal. In May 1958, after a first discussion showing some goodwill, the Council of Ministers had gone on record agreeing that it was `planned to found a European university as an autonomous institution for teaching and research, bringing together professors and students coming chiefly from the Community countries',27 but that it required further study. Two policy proposals were made during 1958 but divided the Six. While Germany and Italy were in favour Italy had been disappointed not to have already been the base for a prestigious Community institution - the rest were against the idea or were lukewarm about it, arguing against the cost or, in the case of the French, claiming that there was no Treaty competence. One reason for the political lack of enthusiasm was that their own universities had been fiercely against the proposal from the beginning. Within Germany the proponent country - there was powerful opposition from the West German rectors, leading the German foreign ministry to back off the issue. But attitudes shifted somewhat between late 1959 and spring 1960 in response to major efforts to formulate a consensual policy on, specifically, a European University. An inspirational and hardworking new chairman of the European Atomic Energy Commission, Etienne Hirsch, and in addition a Frenchman and a friend of Jean Monnet, made a new attempt to find a solution. He headed a committee which came up with a plan for a model European university to be at the centre of a web taking in all Europe's university and research institutions.28 Consensus was achieved at official level which might have augured well for a decision. The committee went public in April 1960 with much ceremony in Florence.29 Their aim, they said, was to strengthen `the common heritage of European cultures and civilisations, of high-level institutions which the Community needs, and of universities extending their brilliance and influence beyond national frontiers. In adding to the existing structures, the original and essential characteristic of the European University would be its role in reinforcing Europe's cultural and scientific potential'. Even the French had taken an active part, persuaded by their director of higher education that Europe was an opportunity to improve their national research institutes. If there were to be mobility of professors and students between the research institutes of Europe, national institutions could become more dynamic, opened up to new ideas. Hence a proposal that a `European label' should be awarded to institutions on the basis of their scientific standing and taking account of their commitment to exchange deals for students and professors. This commitment should be backed by EC funding. Furthermore all universities should encourage their students to be more European by undertaking part of their studies elsewhere.30 However the policy proposal lacked the elements which would have made it viable. Ministers would not decide what sort of legal base the EAEC or EEC could provide, and what Community resources might be available. As they all 27 Corbett 2005:39; Palayret 1996:53 28 Officially this was the Interim Committee on the European University: Report to the Councils of the EEC and EAEC, Florence, 1960 ECHA: CECA (ie EAEC) 29 Hirsch 1988:163-Muller-Armack 1972:178 30 Palayret 1996:57-59
12 knew, Charles de Gaulle of France had by 1960 become an implacable opponent of a supranational university as symbolising the Community's unquenchably expansionist ambitions. He refused to back the strategy that French officials had developed on the Hirsch committee.31 For other governments, the fate of the European University was minor compared with the fate of the Community. As they grew increasingly nervous about French opposition to many aspects of Community policy, the European University project unravelled. On 22 October 1960, at the joint meeting of the Councils of Ministers of the EEC and the EAEC, the French suggested a counter-ploy which, in effect, demanding the suspension of Community involvement in the European University. They suggested the question of the University should be tackled in the framework of the cultural cooperation agency should it be set up.32 The process was back to an alternative specification phase. In February 1961, the French came up with a counter proposal for education, to be included in a strategy of strengthened intergovernmental cooperation that would also include foreign affairs and defence.33 There were no dissenters. A personal battle between de Gaulle and Hirsch gave the story a further twist. When the French discovered that Hirsch was advising the intergovernmental sub-committee designed to put many of his committee's proposals into effect, de Gaulle used the Bonn Summit dinner to `punish' Hirsch. He got backing from the German chancellor, Konrad Adenauer, to push the other leaders to agree that the European University should be the exclusive responsibility of the still enthusiastic Italians.34 It was to take the Italians ten years to devise a project which could command assent as we shall see in the next section. If we think of the events just described as a policy cycle, albeit incomplete, we can uncover the political battles which dogged the proposal to develop a supranational university. We can see how the 1960 supranational higher education plan for Europe was developed as an alternative. We can see also why the proposal failed. Member states could not agree on the rules which would have legitimised Community intervention, But we can also see something which has been hidden from history but which is highly relevant today. The idea, or ideas, of a university dimension to the EU, are coterminous with the Community's existence. The ideas were not only present from the beginning; they persisted. Others were to take up the issue of a European policy for universities emphasising one of other of the motivations that had been aired in the 1950s. Was the main idea to educate and train European elites in a supranational university? Was it to develop European research and manpower capacity in the Nuclear Science
s? Or more generally were the universities to be linked in to efforts to boost Western Europe's economies. Was it, as the later events suggested, to give a new dynamic to national institutions? A second observation is that from the EU's earliest days, there were well-placed figures in the process who not only saw a role for 31 Interim Committee 32 Palayret 1996:109 33 This was the Fouchet Plan after the chairman, the French diplomat, Christian Fouchet. 34 Palayret 1996:118-19
13 universities - or a special Community university. They were prepared to make efforts beyond the call of duty to try to turn the vision into a concrete decision. The Action Programme in Education 1973-76 In February 1976, the ministers of education of the nine member states endorsed an Action Programme of 36 action in eight pilot projects in education and studies for which the Commission had obtained funding.35 These included projects to strengthen cross-border links between universities Joint Study Programmes and Short Study Visits for academics and administrators. The action programme was as innovative procedurally as it was substantively. It packaged `soft' or intergovernmental issues, such as improving mutual understanding of each other's education system, with `social' issues such as the education of migrant workers' children. Such a ruse gave education an access to a Treaty base, and hence access to Community funding. The legal framing followed: the Action Programme in the Field of Education was a mixed process resolution of the Council and of the Ministers of education meeting within the Council. Furthermore the process was to be developed by a `mixed process' committee. A committee under Council control had the Commission as a full member. The Education Committee
pioneered `dual' policy- making in Community institutions. When EC Ministers of education passed their first resolution on education in 1971, education was back onto a Community agenda. A summit in Paris in October 1972 celebrated the coming accession of Britain, Ireland and Denmark36 to the EEC in January 1973. The euphoria surrounding this first enlargement had produced a summit communiquй proclaiming that the EEC was not simply a common market and implying there was a role for it in education and culture: `In the European spirit special attention will be paid to non-material values'.37 In 1973, when enlargement became effective, there was a consensus within the Commission that education Need
ed some serious policy capacity. A directorate for education, training and youth was set up. The issue was made a portfolio of the Research and Science Commissioner. The first desk officer with responsibility for defining the EC role on education was a young Welshman, who had come straight from an administrative job in the new and innovative University of Sussex. His name was Hywel Ceri Jones, a name which for 20 years was to denote the `Mr Education' of the Commission. With the hands-on responsibility for policy formulation, Jones worked on the basis that the Community not as a regulator but as a resource - a resource which could inspire innovation in national systems. This was an original approach, which did not dispense him from challenges. One trap his paper had to avoid was of running into the sand, like a 1971 inter-governmental initiative under the Council. The other was to avoid frightening those, including his Commissioner boss, Ralf Dahrendorf, who wanted minimal action from the 35 Council of Ministers 1988:21. 36 The Norwegian people refused the offer. 37 Neave 1984:7.
14 Community, and opposed anything which looked like the harmonisation or convergence processes as advocated by Henri Janne.38 The conundrum as to how education could be both a sovereign issue, and a policy sector in which the EC could intervene, was brilliantly solved by the Commission, in essence, Jones. His double strategy accepted by the Commission, and by the Council of Ministers (Education) - was to seize an opportunity to extend EC activity in education beyond ministers and officials. He involved a large number of practitioners and encouraged the European Cultural Foundation to give promising developments financial support. A novel policy-making committee emerged from this process. The Education Committee, as a body of the Council, formally reflected the intergovernmental status of education, yet had the Commission as a full member. The Commission made itself acceptable with the argument that the aim was common action, not the conventional Community common policy, which operated for Treaty issues and was underpinned by binding and non-binding legislation. A number of national policy-makers, both officials and educationists, recognised that the Commission could feed in expertise and ideas, and to find ways of getting Community funding. That needed a mixed EC/intergovernmental process. The Ministers of education, though making some amendments, accepted the innovative principle of dual membership of Council and Commission - a decision with important policy-making consequences. In June 1974, the Ministers of Education signed up to the Commission proposals for a programme of cooperation, stressing that `on no account must education be regarded merely as a component of economic life'.39 In handing over the responsibility to develop a programme to the newly constituted Education Committee, they inaugurated a two-year period of work. Although there were moments when the sovereignty issue was raised, the mood of the time was sympathetic. 40 The events above can be seen as a powerful example of how the alternative specification process offers opportunities to an entrepreneurial official or politician ready to make efforts to discuss widely, to operate the advisory or coordinating of change-instigating bodies, and playing a coordinating role between officials and ministers.41 If the official or politician concerned has also been able to help frame the issue, the opportunities are likely to be the greater. In this case the framing of the issue as one in which the Community should offer resource but not the `Community method' was an innovative choice which not only provided opportunities at the time but a lesson for those who later would grapple with a `delicate issue'.42 38 Corbett 2005:76-97 39 Neave 1984:7 40 Corbett 2005:100 41 Barzelay 2003:256 42 Gornitzka 2005
15 The Erasmus decision, 1985-87 On June 15 1987, the twelve ministers of education of the EC agreed for the first time to use exclusively EC law and EC funding for an education project, despite the fact that there had been no modification to the Paris Summit deal of 1961 that education was a matter for intergovernmental cooperation. This was the famous Erasmus programme for student mobility. The programme envisaged broader and more intensive cooperation between universities of the member states, and more academic mobility, with the aim of producing `greater interaction between citizens' and a pool of graduates for the European labour market who would have direct experience of intra-Community cooperation. The Commission also put in a proposal for experimental credit transfer (the future ECTS). Agenda setting on the issue of student mobility had been scarcely necessary. The idea had deep roots in the past. It had featured in the Hirsch Plan of 1960 and was repeated with force in reports to the Commission in the 1970s. Furthermore the years 1973-76 had been a fertile period of `alternative specification' leading up to the action programme in education. The Joint Study programmes had effectively solved the problem of how to enable students to be mobile when every national system had different rules on admission. The JSPs introduced the idea that programmes could work if based on trust. Trust was required between academics in different national systems to take in each others' students and, ideally, give them credit for study periods spent in another European system. in addition, the Community had been able to finance the action on a scale, which if it was never enough, was much more generous than anything else in existence.43 The agenda setting for the Erasmus programme was thus agenda setting for a decision, and in hands of the Commissioner and closely associated officials. For the Commissioner (Peter Sutherland) it was primarily a matter of calculation. How could he expect to carry the proposal with the Commission, which would not a priori support a proposal with no obvious link to the EEC Treaty? Events intervened to suggest that there could be a Treaty connection. The timely jurisprudence of the European Court of Justice in the Gravier case44 interpreted university education as vocational training, for which the Community had some responsibilities.45 But the historical evidence suggests that the Commissioner was prepared to take the risk before the Gravier case on the basis of the solid experience built up by Jones and his team, and his own conviction he could link the case for Erasmus to the need for a more qualified, more European-minded labour force which the completion of the single market would stimulate.46 The alternative specification in this phase, involved the Sutherland cabinet convincing the `resource' directorate generals the legal and finance directiongenerals of the Commission that the Erasmus proposal had a chance of becoming law. This was a task led by the Commissioner's education policy specialist, Michel Richonnier. By all accounts he spurred the education officials, 43Cerych, 1980 44 ECJ 1985: Case Gravier v City of Liиge  ECR 593 45 See Lenaerts 1989 46 Corbett 2005
16 as they recount it, to `think big' and make the conceptual jump from pilot projects to a fully fledged exchange programme. The Commissioner's efforts were successful. In December 1985 the Commission approved the Erasmus draft decision and sent it forward to the Council. Getting the Erasmus draft decision approved by the Council of Ministers took longer and was harder than officials in the Commission and the Council would have believed. The process included several dramatic incidents. In December 1986 , the date at which the Decision was timetabled for approval, the Commissioner in post, Manuel Marin, withdrew the draft decision in protest at attempts by the Council, under a British presidency, to rewrite the decision. He went on to give a press conference at which he declared that Erasmus himself would have been shocked to see the Community unprepared to spend money on students, yet prepared to spend a fortune on its cows. The rectors of the oldest universities lobbied the European Council to intervene. The decision was brought back into the decision process by finance ministers in December 1986. Five months later, the new presidency, that of the Belgians, had a deal. The necessary conciliation was exclusively legal. Whereas the Commission's strategy over the years had been to clothe the education issue in the maximum ambiguity, a number of the member states wanted legal clarity. There had been a foretaste of this difference in 1978 within 18 months of the action programme resolution. The Danes believed that the Commission was going beyond its Treaty competence, mainly in its action in education but also in other areas. This had three consequences. The education ministers refused to meet for two years, and then refused to meet in the `mixed process' until the Erasmus Decision was taken nine years later. The Commission's education directorate and the other policy directorates involved were ordered by the Commission presidency to restrict their action to what the Treaty unambiguously made possible. Jones, faced with this unpromising situation, manoeuvred to get his directorate switched from its base in the Research Directorate General to the more accommodating Social Affairs DG, where - as he put it - Ministers were used to taking decisions.47 His strategy became one of equating education and training to bring education closer to Community opportunities, and to align education initiatives with Community priorities the opposite of what the Ministers had wished for in their resolution of 1974. This increased suspicion between the Council and the Commission. In 1986-87, the deal which eventually carried the day with ministers was that they should use two Articles of the Treaty of Rome EEC (Articles 128 and 235) instead of the normal reliance on a single legal base. Article 128, designed to produce general principles for implementing a common vocational training policy, was hugely attractive to the Commission, and the expansion-minded Mediterranean states (also not net contributors to the EC budget) since it enabled them to outnumber the usually blocking and generally unenthusiastic combination of Britain, France and Germany. 48 But concerns about legitimacy in relation to the Treaty, and fear that they would be outmanoeuvred on the 47 Corbett 2005:106-10 for an account based on internal documents. 48 It provided for a vote by simple majority rather than qualified majority voting
17 budget for the programme, drove other states to insist that the proposal be put to the test of unanimity voting under the reserve powers of Article 235. This allowed the Commission to make a proposal on an issue not covered by the 1958 Treaty of Rome, if it could be judged necessary to the attainment of one of the objectives of the Community, and it allowed the Council to adopt it after consulting the European Parliament. But such a vote had to be unanimous however. A further difficulty was that historically the Commission was opposed to double jurisdiction and warned the Council that it would challenge the Decision. In its role as guardian of the Treaties, it sought to have the clearest possible legal base. However almost the actors wanted a solution, short-term if necessary, to allow the programme to get off the ground. They succeeded: the programme was launched in 1987. The Commission did challenge the Council decision to use a double base. The European Court of Justice did produce a judgement of Solomon, exonerating the Council but making it practicable to move ahead on the basis that the Commission wanted, of Article 128. The revised Erasmus programme decision, agreed in 1989, on this basiswas to precipitate the case for a treaty definition of the role of the Community in education as opposed to training, and planned to end the ambiguities.49 As a policy cycle, the Erasmus Decision outcome is significant in being the first Community initiative to be approved under EC legislation.50 Its contentious passage signals how much of the EU policy process in its mature predecision phase is concerned with how to win under the rules, rather than with the substantive decision. Are there general policy process lessons from this experience? This is the issue for the next section. 4. What do we learn about the dynamics of EU higher education policy-making? The three policy cycles narrated here have produced very different configurations of agenda setting, alternative specification and choice. But they can be evaluated within a common frame which not only analyses the contextual features which distinguish particular policy-making episodes, but searches for causal power in the generic processes inherent in phases of policy-making phases, and linkage with social mechanisms, made familiar in an organisational literature. Agenda setting Opportunism fails to shift a low status idea. Kingdon suggests that policy ideas which reach the attention of an executive and secure a place on the agenda have usually become familiar to a policy community because they have been floating around in a `policy soup' for some time. Coalitions can be formed. But in the 49 The Treaty of Maastricht 1991 Articles 126 (education) and 127 (training). 50 A programme Comett was approved six months earlier on the same legal base. But it was overtly concerned with training rather than the universities. Council of Ministers 1988; Official Journal L 08.08.1986
18 case of the European University, the opportunistic proposal made by the Germans in 1955 at Messina was an immediate surprise to the other foreign ministers, and was then revealed to be a surprise to the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs
and the German rectors' organisation. There had, as far as we can tell, been none of the routine policy-making activities characteristically associated with agenda setting, such as discussion and analysis in epistemic communities, nor media campaigning or lobbying except with in a very restricted circle of high level officials in the German government. But two elements account for the continued presence on the agenda of the European University proposal. The policy advocate, Walter Hallstein, was undoubtedly motivated by strong beliefs, a factor associated with successful policy entrepreneurship. Furthermore, by seizing the opportunity to hang his proposal onto the main issue of the possible creation of two new European Communities, he was able to mobilise the spillover mechanism. Being carried along with the main issue can increase the survival chances of a minor issue significantly. But in the medium term the lack of a clear problematisation and of any indication that there was already a viable policy model, weakened the prospects for the European University idea. The situation had been made more difficult by placing the issue in an inappropriate venue.51 The issue had never been convincingly presented as one with which the Community should deal urgently. Its status was always low until it became contentious and out of the policy entrepreneur's control. A stabilised idea leads to pressure for policy formulation. The case of the 1976 Action Programme was quite different. The idea of educational cooperation on a Community basis was widely welcomed since the early 1970s, and especially since 1973, as exemplary of the newly re-launched Community. Its status was high within the policy sub-system in which Brussels officials and enthusiasts had been campaigning for some few years and getting their message back to national governments. Ministers of education `meeting within the Council' (intergovernmentally) had given the matter their attention. They had authorised the principle of cooperating on a Community basis - twice.52 The policy-making challenge was no longer a matter of agenda setting but of policy development. Reframing an issue to maximise support. Setting the agenda for the Erasmus decision produced yet another policy-making configuration. Since a policy model to achieve the substantive goal of encouraging student mobility was already in existence, the policy challenge was how to problematise the case for the Erasmus decision. The issue was how to persuade commissioners and ministers attending the Council that they positively wanted to carry the issue through the legislative process, despite the known difficulty of trying to get legislation on an issue which was not explicitly linked to a Treaty policy competence. There was one option of fighting for a potentially popular programme under the exceptional legislation article,53 and another, following a conveniently timed judgement by the European Court of Justice, to present the programme as vocational training. 51 Some bureaucratic tidying up during the negotiations for the Treaty of Rome placed the European University proposal within the atomic energy treaty (Euratom) which was being developed in parallel with the EEC Treaty 52 Resolutions of 1971 and 1974. See Council 1988. 53 EEC Treaty Article 235
But the Commissioner who had to make the case believed linkage to the priority policy of the EEC was likely to carry most weight. Other policy-makers in the process were at different times to problematise the Erasmus proposal as primarily education or primarily vocational. But it got under the decision-makers agenda in the Commissioner's terms: as of benefit to the Single Market which would come into operation in 1993.
Alternative specification Winning everything but an authoritative allocation. With Kingdon's identification of the alternative specification process as separate from agenda setting, we can see new dimensions to the dynamics of higher education. In the case of the European University, there were three failed attempts at to produce a viable policy proposal to provide for a supranational university before the decision in 1961 removed the issue from Community competence. The fact that there was no recognised policy domain of higher education was an undoubted handicap in framing the issue. Decision-makers
Table 3: Three higher education proposals in the EU policy process: the European University, the Action Programme in education and the Erasmus programme
Process/event Agenda setting Issue inclusion Agenda status
Opportunity in policy Opportunity in
in macro political subsystem: high issue in political system through
linkage to high status macro
spillover from main Policy entrepreneur issue.
issue. Low issue effort in political and Policy entrepreneur effort in
Policy policy streams.
political and policy streams
limited to political
Repeated failure to Policy entrepreneur Policy entrepreneur effort in
produce viable policy effort to control policy presenting a viable policy
Policy formulation, and to solution developed before the
entrepreneur effort in produce innovative problem was articulated.
policy stream unable solutions
on Policy entrepeneur effort in
resolve substantive issues, reframing issue to attach it
financed to core EC policy. Policy
programme as well as entrepreneur effort to secure
and authority and resources.
highly Some contention but Issue contentious on
Why did the contentious to policy policy
subsystem `authoritative allocation
D/Ms agree fail community and to proposals accepted as grounds' at policy subsystem
decision makers - on Policy
capacity level but at macro level
legal and financial authorised on pilot strong political support..
and as idea. No base
Accepted and with full
Modest deal 16 yrs Existed in
v A popular success but existed under strong budgetary limits
had little appropriate knowledge, beyond their personal or national experience of universities. The contentiousness of the issue did however rise its status, which is why we see one extremely well -placed actor, the president of the Euratom Commission, take up the European University issue. By reframing the issue as one of Europeanising all higher education,54 the official concerned, Etienne Hirsch, succeeded in getting some momentum for his plan. But while he kept a coalition in being by reducing the unpopular European University to a small part of plan, he failed on the components needed to make a policy viable: he could not get agreement to the legislative authority which would have provided the institutional frame and the funding. Managing a policy monopoly situation. The policy formulation for the Action Programme looks, in contrast, to be a classic case of a policy entrepreneur taking advantage of a policy monopoly position (Baumgartner and Jones). Policy entrepreneur effort could be dedicated for a period to producing innovative solutions on substantive issues, and controlling the policy formulation until judged mature enough to be presented to the decision-makers. It is plausible to see the combination of opportunity for `sense-making' (Weick) of policy alternatives, the high agenda status of the issue, and the presence of a coalition within the relevant committee, and around the Commission, as factors which explain the production of a policy proposal so solidly framed that it was the source of much later EU initiative in education. Securing viability and political focus for a mature proposal. The distinctive feature of the alternative specification for the Erasmus decision was the team effort involved. We see the policy entrepreneur effort to devise a viable policy developed before the problem was articulated, much as Kingdon observes. We see in parallel the policy entrepreneur effort to secure authority and resources to 54 Hirsch encouraged national officials to bring their ideas to the table.
21 transform a pilot experiment into a potential EC programme. And we see, in another parallel, the importance of the policy entrepreneur effort to reframe a potentially difficult issue for EC legislation in the light of core EC policy, `tweaking' the rationale for the programme, to make it compatible with the maximum number of ideas favoured by Community policy, including those which had attracted the policy community over the years. Decision-making With decision-making as a core activity of the political stream, different policy mechanisms are at work from those in an agenda setting or alternative specification phase. A successful outcome is likely to depend on a mix of political strategising, mediating with top advisory bodies, ensuring (in the case of the European Commission) policy coordination between the DGs (in the case of the Council) cooperation with key ministers. Decision-makers look to the opportunity of making sense of /comparing policy alternatives under conditions of ambiguity and risk in an institutional and political setting.55 Policy leadership is at a premium. Actors in general look to `certified' actors to assume the task.56 Given the incomplete policy formulation, the continued opposition of university rectors and many member state governments, and the determined leadership of Charles de Gaulle to destroy the project, there was little chance of a successful outcome for the European University project. The one factor likely to have advanced the policy and alone it was not enough was the strategic thinking about the Community and universities contained in the Interim Report. Decisions on the Action Programme involved less risk. It was merely a pilot, and the legal formulation was a simple non-binding resolution. The Erasmus Decision, in contrast, carried what some decision-makers perceived as high risks of setting an unfortunate precedent. If the decision was made to grant the `authoritative allocation' required by EC law, would that mean that the Community could make an education, or higher education, a common policy? As we have seen, despite the stable issue image57 of the mobility project and cooperation, despite the careful development of a viable policy option, the decision-making was highly contentious at the sub-system level, and required some macro-political intervention in the shape of the European Council. Policy entrepreneurship Running through all the policy episodes is the dynamic of opportunity and policy entrepreneurship. This account has presented a number of `flesh and blood people'58 as part of the explanation of policy change. In Dyson and Featherstone terms, they were energisers of policy change and advocates of ideas in an agenda setting phase, and animateurs and ingйnieurs in the decision process.59 I have seen them more theoretically as fulfilling a function about which generalisations can be made. A `situation/action/identity' explanation drawing on identity and life experience can account for why in particular situations they were ready to make 55 Weick (2001), March (2000) 56 McAdam, Tarrow and Tilly (2001) 57 Baumgartner and Jones (1993) 58 Dyson and Featherstone 59 Dyson and Featherstone 1999: 59
22 an exceptional effort.60 Accounting for the effectiveness of policy entrepreneurs requires that the opportunity structure is analysed more closely. In a policy-making context there are almost always politically skilled individuals to respond to the opportunity provided by a specific context to advance policy ideas. But as this account suggests, the opportunities are not simply those of political context, spillover from a macro-political events. Institutional resources and the policy-making process create opportunities too, which the expert entrepreneur can exploit. Agenda congestion61 as well as the political mood62 opens the door to Hallstein to get the European University proposal on the table at Messina. Bandwaggoning as well as the macro-political context helps to defeat it, as the governments of the five member states side with France in their opposition to the supranational university project. The interaction of a strong issue image and a protected venue for policy development provides the window for the development of the Action Programme and the early stages of the Erasmus programme. In the case of Erasmus, where the policy formulation was an issue for the highest levels of the Commission, the opportunity that entrepreneurs could exploit derives both from a change in administration63 and from the big issue in the political stream for the Commission, that is to say the single market project. The fact that in the Erasmus episode policy entrepreneurs had long had a `solution' ready to hand out when the political leaders perceived they had a `problem' about university mobility is another facet of their expertise in linking processes.64 5. Conclusions A purpose of this paper has been to structure an account of a little known European policy area within a comparative framework, in order to make sense both to those studying European integration and those studying contemporary higher education developments within the Bologna Process, or the Lisbon strategy. This account has chosen to answer a question about the significance of the Bologna process in terms of a better understanding of how and why Community institutions have, on and off, over five decades backed the development of a higher education policy, along with intergovernmental structures operating within the EU. This has produced a narrative which is theoretically based on a model of the, largely, pre-decision policy process. One of the products of such a conceptualisation has been to reveal a policy history of the years 1955-71 never before seen as part of the policy initiatives affecting higher education. But it has also shown elements of continuity with policy cycle needing to resolve, in ways which are linked to context, questions of roles, resources and instruments. Methodological issues arise from the use of a long time frame. The first is why stay close to the historical facts? One justification for the long time frame is that it gives us a bigger sample of policy episodes in which to observe different 60 See Corbett 2005 Chapter 9 61 Kingdon, Baumgartner and Jones 62 Kingdon 63 Kingdon 64 Kingdon
23 configurations of policy processes devoted to the same issue. There are telling examples of the way the issue of advancing a European higher education policy is shaped by context, by its treatment in different institutional settings and different phases of the policy process, and by the multifarious roles of the policy entrepreneur in driving the issue forward to a decision. But history itself has some causal force. This account reveals a significant policy-making difference between the pre-1971 period, when there was no recognised policy domain of education within Community institutions, and the post-1971 era when policy capacity was created especially for education. This can be explained by the accumulation of experience shaping the decisions which created a new policy arena. Historical knowledge also contributes to policy learning. Some striking parallels could be evoked in modern context. Those who know the history of the proposal for a supranational European University will not be surprised by the hostility to a proposal for a supranational European Institute of Technology. Those who know the long history of education
initiatives taken within the EC but not by it the story of the 1976 Action Programme, for example - will not have been surprised that the Commission was invited to the intergovernmental Bologna process, which by definition was going to be weak on policy capacity. A second issue and it is usually addressed as a criticism- is why stay close to identifiable individuals? I have set out to demonstrate that a recognition of the role of individuals is both a consequence of using historical data, and of using a theoretical approach which assumes a causal force for policy entrepreneurs. But the view that this is to take a `great man/woman' view of history is misplaced. These individuals are locked into a policy process. Their activities could be enlightening for further study of structure and agency. A final point should be made about the supposed novelty of the Bologna Process. Is it conceivable that the 45 country strong Bologna Process, with its ten action lines and its battery of procedures to develop, to monitor and to evaluate, has much in common with the small scale initiatives of 20 or 50 years ago? The answer contained in this paper is that a focus on the dynamics of European policy-making in higher education can lead us to interpret the Bologna Process as but the latest attempt to solve the problem of how to act on a European scale in a way which is compatible with national control of university systems. The mobilising force of ideas, institutions and the opportunity mechanisms, exploited by policy entrepreneurs, must operate. Nevertheless questions arise about the institutional capacity of the Bologna Process in a context in which the EU has a rival and overlapping project through activities which spin off from the Lisbon strategy. Where higher education is concerned, both the Bologna actors and the Commission may be using procedures which have such contemporary hallmarks as being voluntary, open, consensual, deliberative and informative.65 But a continued existence in parallel does not look likely. Bologna does not even have a permanent secretariat, whereas the Commission has a record of assuming leadership where none is formally constituted, and it has a battery of other instruments at its disposal through linkage of higher education to other EU policies.66 We can expect to see 65 Caporaso, J and Wittenbrinck, J 2006 66 Soysal 1993
24 an increased interlocking of the intergovernmental and EU institutions on higher education and in ways which may not be too dissimilar from contemporary EU processes geared to `diverse systems and shared goals'. But events may decree otherwise. All this heralds a political interest which makes the dynamics of the Europe of Learning a topic worthy of further investigation by Europeanists and higher education experts alike. It will ve clear from this paper that the author's hope is that such framing will be sensitive to elements of continuity as well as change.
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