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Europeanisation through the prism of regime complexity: the case of French aid

Cumming, Gordon D. 2016. Europeanisation through the prism of regime complexity: the case of French aid. European Politics and Society 17 (1) , pp. 12-27. 10.1080/23745118.2015.1075763

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The challenge of isolating the impact of Europeanisation is an arduous one, which explains why analysts have preferred complex rather than parsimonious explanations of this phenomenon. Given this predilection among scholars, it is surprising that the concept of regime complexity has not been meaningfully applied in the Europeanisation literature. This article lays some initial groundwork for assessing whether regime complexity has weakened or reinforced the impact of Europeanisation, with reference specifically to French aid. France constitutes a ‘hard case’ in that it was the original architect behind the common European development policy and has retained the capacity to resist EU pressures on its bilateral aid. This article begins by highlighting the limited impact of Europeanisation on French assistance in the early decades of European integration. Next, it demonstrates how the climate became more propitious as from the late 1990s following domestic reforms, increased EU pressures and the emergence of an aid regime complex. Drawing on elite interviews, it shows how France has become more receptive to Europeanisation, while also using regime complexity to reframe EU norms. Finally, it explains why and how France has resisted Europeanisation and explores the wider significance of the French case and of regime complexity.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Modern Languages
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DC France
J Political Science > JN Political institutions (Europe)
J Political Science > JX International law
Uncontrolled Keywords: Regime complexity, French aid, Europeanisation, EU development policy, policy coherence for development, aid effectiveness
Additional Information: This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Publisher: Taylor & Francis (Routledge)
ISSN: 2374-5118
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2016
Date of Acceptance: 9 June 2015
Last Modified: 08 Mar 2021 12:00

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