Theorising top-down Europeanisation - examining the implementation of the 1992 maternity directive in Denmark

Siri Bentzen

Studenteropgave: Semesterprojekt


Since the 1990’s, Europeanisation theory has attempted to theorise the impact of the EU on the member states (MS). It is a self-ascribed ‘adolescent’ field of theory, struggling to account for the great empirical variation in the effects of the EU across the MS with coherent, testable and ‘new’ theories – without even a consensus on the definition of the term Europeanisation. In this project, Europeanisation is operationalised as processes of domestic change arising from EU level policies, and the challenge is to develop a theoretical framework within this understanding which can be applied at a case. The framework refers to relevant factors both at the EU and MS level, including the type of EU pressure applied, the domestic culture of compliance, the existence of veto players, and the degree of misfit between EU requirements and MS arrangements. Reference is made to prominent scholars of Europeanisation such as Knill & Lehmkuhl, Radaelli, Haverland and Falkner, all having written on the subject in the European Integration online Papers. To link the variables of EU policies and domestic impact, the framework makes use of the new institutionalisms, specifying relevant processes of change, as in Börzel & Risse 2000. The theoretical framework is applied on the case of the Danish implementation of the maternity directive from 1992. The Danish reaction to the directive is analysed in terms of the role played by the social partners as veto players, the Danish culture of compliance and the misfit between the directive and Danish law. Denmark seemingly implemented the directive correctly and timely by 1994. It is argued that although policy misfit was low, a misfit of norms was significant, both relating to the tradition of labour market regulation and the approach to gender policy. Regarding the veto players, it is argued that the trade unions react both to the challenge posed to their privileged position in the Danish labour market and the prospect of EU law strengthening the position of their members. In the discussion of the case the theoretical framework is substantiated on several accounts, first and foremost by noting that Europeanisation theories are middle range theories, valid under certain conditions and with regard to other factors, i.e. in conjunction. It is pointed out that case selection on the basis of policy misfit risks exclusion of potentially interesting cases of norm misfit, and that veto players should be considered in a broad sense and over time.

UddannelserEU-studies, (Bachelor/kandidatuddannelse) Basis
Udgivelsesdato25 jan. 2010
VejledereHans-Åke Persson


  • Denmark
  • Europeanisation
  • Maternity directive
  • Implementation