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.
Essential Work, Migrant Labour: What Explains Migrant Employment in European Key Sectors?
Amidst the COVID-19 lockdowns, it became obvious that migrants play a critical role in economic sectors that are essential to the functioning of everyday life. Are they over-represented in these sectors, and how is the use of migrant labour linked to structural factors in the provision of essential services? Using micro data from the EU Labour Force Survey (EU-LFS) 2011-2020 for 17 countries, this paper investigates the extent and the drivers of migrants’ over-representation in key sectors (e.g. health, long-term care, food supply) relative to the rest of the economy. We measure the difference in the probability of working in key sectors for various types of migrants to similar natives across countries of destination. Our results show that in most countries, migrants are over-represented with respect to native-born workers after accounting for individual characteristics. We also provide an overview of the correlation between this residual over-representation and potential structural factors. We find a strong and robust correlation between migrants’ relative employment probability in key sectors and precarious job conditions, the degree of autonomy and flexibility at work, as well as attitudes to migrants, both at the country-level and across sub-national regions.