Working papers

A Politically Independent Executive Arm? EU Commissioners' Ideological Alignment and Budget Allocation in the European Union

This paper investigates the effects of the political distance between European Commissioners and heads of government on the allocation of funds flowing from the European Union to EU member states. The EU’s agricultural and regional budgets offer two particularly interesting case studies due to the discretion exerted in these domains by the Commissioner for Agriculture and the Commissioner for Regional Policy, respectively. Leveraging the difference in timing in the turnovers of Commissioners and heads of government, I test whether the political distance between EU commissioners and heads of administrations affects the share of agricultural and regional funds countries receive from 1979 to 2006. Results show that greater ideological distance is a strongly significant deterrent of funds being channelled. The effects are strongest in pre-election years, for countries providing the Commissioners in charge of the given portfolios, and for countries that are single-party ruled, as opposed to coalition ruled. These findings suggest the behavior of European Commissioners follows similar principles to nationally elected leaders and are important given the salience of agriculture and regional funding at the European level and ongoing debates surrounding EU integration and the political independence of the EU’s executive body.

Migration and Redistributive Spending: Evidence from Local Authorities in England

The inflow of migrants can impact on public spending through its effect on local preferences for redistribution and through changes in demand for local services brought about by migrants' distinct characteristics. In this paper, we analyse the effects of the migration wave from Central and Eastern European countries following their EU accession in 2004 on local level redistribution in England, specifically disentangling these two channels. We apply a difference-in-differences estimation strategy and find that migrants did not have an effect on local authorities’ total service provision per capita. Once we zoom in on the different expenditure items, we find that local authorities experiencing relatively larger migration inflows saw their spending on means-tested social care services decrease in relative terms, while spending on education services increased. Analysing changes in local Council compositions and internal migration flows in response to the arrival of outsiders, we find no evidence that spending shifts are driven by a change in the local willingness to redistribute income. Rather, our results suggest that, due to migrants’ young age at the time of arrival, migration following the 2004 EU enlargement alleviated some of the pressure social care spending in England faces.