From Dual to Collaborative Federalism – A Constructivist Reading of Intergovernmental Policy Coordination in Canada and the European Union

  • Abstract:

    Despite the over fifty years of integration and federal institutionalization, the European Union (EU) lives through a renaissance of intergovernmentalism, as it attempts to address the tension of further coordinating member-state jurisdictions without formally transferring any more responsibilities to the federal / European level. The economic crisis highlighted the growing interdependence among member-states that leads to the divergence between jurisdictional and actual policy boundaries. This, however, is not an EU specific problem, but can also be witnessed in other federal political systems. As a result, the constitutional distribution of legislative powers needs to be balanced with a deliberative procedure of intergovernmental policy coordination that may alter the actual allocation of powers as well. Consequently, this paper asks how, and under which conditions do constituent units of federal political systems turn to intergovernmental policy coordination instead of the traditional governing methods based on legislative decision making. In order to be able to understand this turn to a renewed and reformed intergovernmental activity, this study advances a constructivist approach to federal theory that attempts to finetune the idea of ‘collaborative federalism’ (Cameron and Simeron, 2002) by blending it with the ‘deliberative turn’ (Neyer, 2006). Focusing on different aspects of the creation of economic union in Canada (internal trade) and the EU (economic governance), this comparative study argues that the ‘deliberative capacities’ in the system influences the emergence of intergovernmental coordination, and provides with a complementary development path to legal coordination. The paper sums up the findings based on a number of interviews conducted with government officials and public servants in Canada and the EU.