chapter  2
23 Pages

Uploading in the EEA

Uploading involves making systematic use of resources, strategies and opportunities in order to exert influence and advance national preferences at the EU level (Bulmer and Burch 2005: 867; McGowan 2005: 996). Research has shown that actors actively engage in uploading in order to avoid having to download undesirable policies, and so uploading is now seen as an important aspect of the Europeanization process. Therefore, it is necessary to assess Iceland’s uploading capacity in the context of the EEA Agreement, which relates to the first research question posed in this volume: can a non-member state such as Iceland develop uploading capacity? In other words, is it correct to assume that third countries undergo a completely unilateral adjustment to EU policy requirements, with uploading capacity a phenomenon unique to EU member states, or do domestic institutions and organizations in nonmember states develop mechanisms and strategies to ensure their input into EU policy-making as a result of prolonged structured relations with the EU? Although the majority of the EU legislation that the EFTAns are required to adopt is uncontroversial, instances do come up in which EU policies go against their preferences.1 This question is therefore an important one. It is clear that the EEA Agreement encompasses considerable asymmetries

in the power of actors and their access to the policy-making process. Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein are allowed to participate in the EU’s internal market and, in return, they adopt the relevant acquis. The EEA Agreement does not, however, grant the EFTAns much formal access to EU decisionmaking institutions and does not accord the parties to the Agreement equal rights as regards the evolution of EEA law. Some have even gone so far as to characterize the EEA as ‘legalized hegemony’ (Pederson 1994: 70-71), highlighting the dominance of the EU pillar of the Agreement at the expense of the EFTA pillar.2 As one Commission official noted: ‘It is strange to take over so much legislation without access to decision-making.’3 Yet the EFTA states frequently put a positive spin on their participation in the EU policy process, referring to their contribution as ‘decision-shaping’ as opposed to decision-making (EFTA Secretariat 2009). Although the term decision-shaping is not specifically referred to in the EEA Agreement, it has been coined so frequently by the EFTA states that an Internet search yields almost

exclusively articles related to the EEA. According to a special bulletin on decision-shaping published by the EFTA Secretariat, the term refers to ‘the process of contributing to and influencing policy proposals up until they are formally adopted’ (EFTA Secretariat 2009: 20). But is Iceland really an effective decision-shaper? In addition to non-member status, Iceland’s small size may also hamper its

ability to make its voice heard effectively at the EU level. Larger states have more resources to develop capacity to project their preferences. It is therefore hypothesized that Iceland’s participatory and contact networks may be less developed than in the EU member states, particularly the larger ones. The first section of this chapter explores the structural features of the Icelandic administration, taking into account the hurdles faced by small states in their attempts to influence EU policy. The following sections focus on Iceland’s non-member status, discussing the framework of the EEA Agreement in terms of uploading. Iceland’s formal access points to EU institutions are identified as well as more informal channels and strategies that may have been developed over the years to enable it to project its preferences at the EU level. The Commission is the main formal point of access granted through the

EEA Agreement. However, in recent years the Council and particularly the Parliament have begun to play an increasingly important role in the European policy process, and so the EFTA states have had to adapt their strategies to take these developments into account. The EFTA-3 also rely on internal collaboration to gather information and promote their views. Finally, the EEA framework sometimes allows for the negotiation of adaptations and exemptions for the EFTA states before acts are incorporated into the Agreement. Each of these potential uploading points will be explored in the following sections. While this chapter refers to various specific examples of uploading attempts, the practical application of Iceland’s mechanisms and strategies is tested in greater detail in the case studies in Chapters 4 to 7. This chapter, along with the case studies, thus aims to give some insight into the larger question of whether an interactive model of Europeanization, which takes uploading into account, is indeed appropriate for non-member states such as Iceland.