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Conference papers

Mainstreaming: a hero of lost causes?: Diffusion and transfer of a policy instrument in three EU policy domains

Abstract : The creation of instruments of cooperation and coordination is a classic policy response to rationalise public policy. We argue that mainstreaming is one of those policy instruments. Indeed, considering recent negotiations on the EU's budget, mainstreaming has emerged as a policy instrument dedicated to the rationalisation of European finances and policies. In that sense, mainstreaming can be considered as an innovative instrument, whose introduction and diffusion in different policy sectors took place when other stronger mechanisms of coordination have failed. Based on a longitudinal and a comparative analysis of mainstreaming, its diffusion across several EU policy domains (environment, gender and urban), and its restructuring, we assume that this policy instrument has contributed to shaping this process of rationalisation. The diffusion of mainstreaming between the UN and the EU - or the international and the European arenas - is a pendulum process with back and forth movements. The policy instrument approach therefore contributes to understanding how diffusion processes progressively led to the emergence of mainstreaming at EU level as a meta-instrument and as such, as a major driving force behind the rationalisation of European finances and policies. The paper firstly starts by an analysis of mainstreaming as a policy instrument, its origins, characteristics, and instrumentation in EU policy making. On the EU side, two main sequences can be distinguished in this diffusion process towards the EU: a first moment of emergence of mainstreaming, during which the actors of the development policy community play a prominent role; a second moment of systematisation and diffusion of the instrument in new policy sectors, during which the link with "new governance" is central. Secondly, taking mainstreaming as the independent variable, we look at its effect in three policy sectors. The paper shows that policy mainstreaming has been introduced by the Commission as a meta instrument in the sense of Hood (i.e. definition) to rationalise a policy domain, leading to the marginalisation of the policy domain, not to enhance the political priority hence our analysis of policy mainstreaming as a hero of lost cause.
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Contributor : Charlotte Halpern Connect in order to contact the contributor
Submitted on : Wednesday, February 1, 2012 - 11:54:15 AM
Last modification on : Sunday, June 26, 2022 - 9:27:41 AM


  • HAL Id : halshs-00665159, version 1



Halpern Charlotte, Sophie Jacquot, Patrick Le Galès. Mainstreaming: a hero of lost causes?: Diffusion and transfer of a policy instrument in three EU policy domains. ECPR 6th General Conference, Aug 2011, Reykjavik, Iceland. ⟨halshs-00665159⟩



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