Understanding European integration
: explaining the Commission’s growing competence over telecommunication services

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


I argue that the evolution of the Commission’s de facto competence over telecommunication services occurred when the Commission had greater ability to pursue institutional change as a result of its successful use of its agenda-setting power, informational advantages, its use of implied competence, mobilization of support from the industry, and strategic use of judicial review; or when there were shifts in at least some member states’ preferences concerning institutional change. Nevertheless, the Commission only achieved more legal competence when member states’ preferences were closely aligned.

This thesis sought to develop an understanding of how and why the Commission gained increasing competence over new trade issues, including trade in services, foreign direct investment (FDI) and trade-related intellectual property. It accomplished this through examining telecommunication services as an example of new trade areas and made a detailed study of how the Commission gained increasing competence over this area.It established a synthetic analytical framework by combining insights from both historical institutionalism (HI) and actor-centred institutionalism (ACI) and presented a hypothesis deriving from this framework.

To assess the validity of the hypothesis, the thesis traces throughout history and examines policy-making instances, which shaped the EU’s de facto and legal competence over telecommunication services since the 1980s. It examines the Commission’s representation of member states in the Uruguay Round and in the basic telecommunication negotiations. It also analyze debates on the Commission’s legal competence in the IGCs on the Amsterdam, Nice and Constitutional Treaties as well as legal proceedings before the European Court of Justice.

While the Commission’s ability to pursue institutional change and member states’ preferences concerning institutional change are two independent variables, I argue that the institutional setting of the EU’s telecommunication policy making and the international economic environment indirectly affected institutional change by exerting influence on these independent variables.
Date of Award1 Jun 2020
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • King's College London
SupervisorAdam Chalmers (Supervisor) & Anand Menon (Supervisor)

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