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By Rachel Jones (auth.)

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The liberal perspective adopted by Moravcsik (1993a) represents a more systematic approach to domestic influences on decision-making. He regards the identity of domestic groups, the nature of their interests, and their influence on policy decisions as essential for a fuller understanding of the policy process, although still emphasizing the bargaining power and autonomy of national governments. However, in a later paper, he argues that ‘international co-operation … tends on balance to strengthen the domestic power of executives vis-à-vis opposition groups’ (Moravcsik, 1994, p.

Its use as a tool for analysing EU decision-making is therefore not unproblematic. Multi-level theorists have recognized that, even in the area of cohesion policy, regional mobilization could be considered largely symbolic. It is significant that, in the 1993 reforms of the structural funds, member states were considered to have regained much of the autonomy that they had formerly lost vis-à-vis subnational authorities (Hooghe and Keating, 1994). The resilience of state political and bureaucratic elites cannot be underestimated, particularly during the policy initiation and decision-making phases.

The concept of the political opportunity structure is a notion originally developed by Herbert Kitschelt (1986) to refer to the level of access to national policy-making for key domestic actors (in his case, protest groups). Key studies by multi-level theorists provide illustrations of increasing opportunities for domestic actors to gain access to the policy process, for example the widespread analysis of the principle of partnership within the 1988 reform of the structural funds (see Chapter 5).

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