EU-driven public sector reforms

Ongaro, Edoardo and Kickert, Walter (2019). EU-driven public sector reforms. Public Policy and Administration, 35(2) pp. 117–134.



This paper is the introduction article to the special issue on EU-driven public sector reforms. European Union (EU) governance has dramatically changed since the outburst of the financial, economic and fiscal crises in 2007–2008. The dramatically changed circumstances have led to heightened EU influence in the field of the organization of the public sector of Member States, leading to major reforms of the public sector of Member States under conditions of radical fiscal consolidation. We call these ‘EU-driven public sector reforms’. The Greek, Hungarian, Irish and Italian cases of reform of the public sector in recent years accounted for in special issue: EU-driven public sector reforms are different instances, with diverse outcomes, of this phenomenon. This article reviews the theoretical perspectives that can be employed for the study of EU-driven public sector reforms – these include notably the policy of conditionality; Europeanization; and a combination of learning, leadership and multiple streams theories – and the evidence about the features, doctrinal contents and effects of such reforms arising from the four case studies in the special issue.

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