Progetti di ricerca

SocialEsti - Socializzazione del semestre europeo attraverso la formulazione, l'implementazione e la valutazione

SocialEsti - Socializing the European Semester through Formulation, Implementation and Evaluation

Finanziato dall’Unione Europea – NextGenerationEU e dall'Università degli Studi di Padova nel quadro del programma STARS Grants@Unipd 2021

Ambito disciplinare Macroarea 3

Area scientifica Area 16 - Scienze politiche e sociali

Tipologia finanziamento Altro

Tipo di progetto Internazionale

Stato progetto Aperto

Responsabilità scientifica Principal Investigator

Data avvio: 15 March 2022

Data termine: 14 March 2024

Durata: 24 mesi

Importo: € 120.000,00


Trajche Panov

Principal investigator:

Igor Guardiancich


The European sovereign debt crisis and, more recently, the COVID-19 pandemic have had devastating economic effects, placing major strains on the European Union’s (EU) member states. Confronted with these challenges, the member states reshaped the economic governance of the EU and the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU). Increased coordination of national budgetary and structural policies through the European Semester and the agreement on Next Generation EU (NGEU), an unprecedented stimulus package,which was embedded into the Semester’s governance structures,represent critical junctures that will shape EU governance for years to come. While research on the Semester has addressed its socialization, i.e. the balancing of economic and social objectives, it has so far focussed on the ‘EU level’ of institutional and policy changes. A systematic examination of the ‘domestic level’ and its perception at the EU level are largely missing in the literature. SocialESti will fill this gap by employing a mixed-methods approach, combining the quantitative analysis of all EU member states with the application of process tracing to the critical case of Italy. The project aims to assess the impact of the European Semester on domestic socioeconomic policies, thereby providing guidance to the implementation of NGEU. SocialEStiwill be ground-breaking in three ways. At the theoretical level, it will conceptualize and model the emerging multilevel policymaking process; at the empirical level, it will map the EU’s impact on domestic socioeconomic policies; at the methodological level, it will define a ‘gold standard’ to study reform events in a comparative manner. Finally, SocialESti will produce sound knowledge for the stakeholders operating at the intersection between domestic and EU-level policymaking by showing the conditions under which the new multilevel process is effective, efficient and equitable.


SocialEStistrivestoanswer the followingresearch question (RQ):
(RQ1) What has been the impact of the Semester on social and economic policy reforms in EU member states?SocialESti sets out to examine the political-economy factors that influence the formulation, implementation, and evaluation of, first, the NRPs (National Reform Programmes) drafted since 2011 by the EU member states.The three policymaking stages generate three related research sub-questions:
(RQ1.1) What political and economic factors shape the design of NRPs?
(RQ1.2) What determines the modalities, policies and extent to which countries implement NRPs?
(RQ1.3) Does the Commission employ objective or other, chiefly political criteria in its assessments of the implementation of NRPs?

The following hypothesis will be tested:
Formulation - RQ1.1:
H1: The more focussed and consistent EU advice towards a member country (Country specific recommendations, CSRs), the more likely the content of NRPs will reflect the policy priorities identified by EU institutions.
H2: The higher the number of party and government veto players, and fragmented socioeconomic interests, the more the content of NRPs will tilt towards distributive rather than structural reform priorities.
Implementation - RQ1.2
H3: Countries subject to higher external (political and economic) pressures will implement more than countries subject to lower pressures.
H4: Implementation of NRPswill be higher for regulatory policies thanfor redistributive policies.
Evaluation - RQ1.3
H5: The higher the degree of implementation of individual policies within the NRPs, the higher the Commission’s evaluation score.

Piano delle attività:

Testing of the hypothesis:

H1: Data gathering – 2datasets: i) CSRs for all countries (2012-20); ii) NRPs for all countries (2012-20). CSRs and NRPs will be coded by policy area following Guidi & Guardiancich (2018).Data analysis and expected result–statistical analysis. Variation is expected in the extent to which countries: a) commit to implement CSRs; b) address the Commission’s priorities.

H2: Data gathering–semi-structured in-depth interviews with the actors who access the decision-making process (politicians, interest group representatives, policy entrepreneurs, etc.) in Italy.Data analysis and expected result–process tracing. Uncovers the mechanisms through which party, cabinet, and societal veto players influence the content of NRPs.

H3 - H4
Data gathering–1 dataset: iv) reform events (2012-23) in four areas where the frequency of CSRs is highest, achieving a balanced mix of regulatory and redistributive policies (see Guardiancich & Guidi, 2020). In-depth interviews with the actors who access the decision-making process in Italy.Data analysis and expected result–statistical analysisand process tracing. Compares the effective implementation rates in different policy domains. Uncovers two institutional dimensions of implementation: i) political accountability of the actors in charge; ii) efficiency of governance structures delivering the NRP objectives.

Data gathering–1 dataset: v) 5-point scale evaluation in Country Reports for all countries (2012-20), based on Efstathiou & Wolff (2018). In-depth interviews with EU officials in charge of evaluations. Data analysis and expected result–statistical analysis with qualitative data support. Assesses whether: a) the Commission’s evaluation matches the member states’ self-reporting; b) the same evaluation criteria apply to all member st’ self-reporting; b) the same evaluation criteria apply to all member states and policy domains; c) criteria change over time.