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Towards Territorialisation? Understanding Conflict in a Post-Crisis European Parliament

Martin Wirtz

In the context of the 'Euro-Crisis', scholars have noticed an increasing importance of national interests in EU politics, leading to an obstructive territorialisation of conflict. The European Parliament (EP) has so far been characterized by ideologically structured conflict, however, and might thus be considered more resistant to national interests. Noteworthy, the extant literature on conflict in the EP is very good at explaining the predominance ideological conflict in the EP, but does not explain under what conditions exactly this conflict is territorialised. The paper thus develops a theoretical framework for this purpose, focusing on politicisation, distributional effects and certainty. The theory is tested by means of a policy frame analysis, as national party delegations can be expected to frame their way around territorialisation. Indeed, it can be shown that they strive to avoid the conflict between ideology-based policy-seeking and territory-dependent vote-seeking on cases such as the debate on 'welfare tourism'. This strategy is abandoned, however, when the cross-national distributional effects of a policy are all too apparent, as in the case of the 2013 Reform of the Common Agricultural Policy. Thus, in a post-Crisis political climate, even the supranational EP is not entirely safe from territorialisation.

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