STEP 1. OVERVIEW
In this unit, you are going to learn about the UE policy-making process and its main actors. Through a guided tour of its main steps, you will get to know how the process works: agenda-setting, decision
making, implementation and feedback. You will get acquainted with the role of actors in each of these steps and you will learn about EU main decision and policy-making procedures. If in the previous units we have focused on the analysis of politics (EU’s main institutional actors and their interaction) and on the analysis of polity (the representation of interests and voices from EU polity), here we will focus on the last key element which makes up EU political system: the policy.
In unit 1, we have defined the word ‘policy’ in terms of the public actions adopted by a government for governing public topics, solving problems and addressing citizens’ demands. More specifically, a public policy can be defined as ‘whatever governments choose to do or not to do’ (Thomas Dye, 1972). It means that every action adopted by a government is a specific policy, in terms of key outputs to address citizens’ inputs and demands. However, also inaction is a specific policy. If in a certain geographic area, there is a high level of pollution and the government decides not to act, this represents a key decision which contributes to shape the government’s environmental policy.
Another broader definition defines public policy as “a set of inter-related decisions taken by a political actor or group of actors concerning the selection of goals and the means of achieving them” (Jenkins, 1978). This means that a policy is a set of actions and decisions pertaining to specific goals to be achieved and the related means to do so.