Submitted Master Theses – University of Copenhagen

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Submitted Master Theses

The Department of Political Science at the University of Copenhagen is lucky to have some of the best students in Denmark. Many students finish their degree by writing an excellent final thesis. CEP believes that these theses should be read by as many as possible. Consequently, CEP has decided to publish the best final theses about EU/Europe (awarded grade 10 or 12) from the Department of Political Science here on CEP's website.

If your thesis lives up to the above standard, we would like you to send CEP an email with your name and information stating grade and supervisor (grade and supervisor's name will not be published on the website). Please write a short summary in Danish and in English, which will be published on CEP's website along with the thesis. Please note, that most theses are written in Danish, but have an English abstract.

If you have any questions, please contact our student assistants at

Towards Double Multilateralism
This thesis examines how the small state Denmark operates through the EU to pursue influence in the UN. The Lisbon Treaty and the creation of the European External Action Service (EEAS) has enhanced the ability of the EU to act on behalf of the 28 member states. The thesis tries to explain how institutional reforms of the EU in relation to the UN have affected the diplomatic practice for Danish diplomats operating in this set up of two multilateral organizations.

The thesis introduces the concept ‘double multilateralism’, which is constructed on a theoretical framework of existing state-centric definitions of multilateralism and the potential of small states to become smart states punching above their weight in international relations. In order to explore how the small state can act smartly to further its interests in double multilateralism, we conduct a case study comparing the diplomatic practice in the Danish UN Missions and the EU delegations in the UN headquarters in New York and Geneva.

As a small state, Denmark can use various EU-coordinated strategies in order to gain influence through a double-multilateral approach to the UN, and the thesis concludes that a small state can indeed benefit from choosing the double-multilateral route. Influence in the UN, however, depends on the small state’s ability as well as the EU’s ability to live up to the preconditions for influence, which this thesis also uncovers.

Read the thesis here (in English).

The procedure for enhanced cooperation - Towards a stronger European Union?
The thesis by Esben Bjørn Kristensen and Andreas Plum Forrest examines the negotiation process surrounding two seemingly unconnected EU legislative acts, namely the unitary patent and the rules regarding divorce and legal separation. The two legislative acts are however the (currently) two only examples of law, within the EU, concluded via the decision making procedure referred to as enhanced cooperation. The analysis of these two cases is carried out through a domain of application approach that uses liberal intergovernmentalism, rational choice institutionalism and sociological institutionalism to analyse different parts of the negotiation process.

Through this the thesis finds that while none of the identified mechanisms are in themselves sufficient to explain the outcome of the negotiation processes, certain characteristics are the same for the two cases. First and foremost both negotiation processes involved the necessity of unanimity within the regular decision making process for a decision about enhanced cooperation to be taken.

The thesis won the 2014 CEP prize for best thesis on EU.

Read the thesis here.


Climate-mainstreaming in the European Commission - Is the internal administrative setup compatible with the external ambitions?
This thesis by Mette Ransfelt suggests that the institutional setting of the Commission does not encourage horizontal policy-making, and the DG has not been given the necessary instruments to avoid major coordination problems. The thesis investigates the type of coordination problems that will dominate the coordination process between DGs in the area of climate-change. It looks at whether the problems vary across DGs and how the variation can be explained. The thesis systematically investigates these based on survey evidence from a questionnaire to all Commission officials at management level who ought to have a climate dimension in their work. The survey-evidence is supplemented and validated through a number of interviews with Commission officials.

The evidence suggests that the most dominant problem concerns disputes between sectors on how different objectives should be prioritised. There seems to be a prevalent understanding of climate-considerations as being in contrast with economic objectives. Many DGs perceive climate as an imposed burden, dismissing the idea that there could be a synergy between the objective of their DG and climate-concerns. Additionally, disputes arise over the most appropriate instruments to be used to handle climate-change. Furthermore, turf-wars and disputes rising from member states interest are prevalent, but cannot be said to dominate the coordination process.

Read the thesis here.


Powerful brokers: An analysis of Poland and Denmark's EU presidencies' promotion of national interests in the climate change policy area
Although the national Council Presidencies are expected to act neutrally as 'honest brokers', the holder can use the Presidency helmet to promote national interests. With a focus on Poland’s and Denmark's EU Presidencies in the fall 2011 and spring 2012, this
thesis illustrates, how the Council Presidency can use its power position to shape EU’s climate policies to its own benefit. Additionally, the thesis shows under what structural constrains, the Presidency operates.

The thesis argues that both Poland and Denmark did benefit from the Presidency position, while simultaneously performing their roles as honest brokers. However, to what extent a Presidency manages to successfully promote national interests, depends on the nature of the Presidency’s national position. Perceived as the ‘green leader’ of EU, Denmark could easily push for an ambitious national climate agenda, without being considered as a controversial Presidency. As the outsider in the EU climate negotiations Poland had more trouble protecting its own concerns against this agenda, although it did
manage to secure its most vital national interests.

Read the thesis by Sidsel Korsgaard here.

Small States' Strategy of Influence: Lobbying Legislators
While the small states of the European Union are more numerous than ever, recent institutional developments suggest that their ability to exercise influence in the EU decision-making process is becoming more constrained. This master thesis by Sofie Grønbek Jørgensen sets out to explore how small states can counter the power imbalance currently favoring large states by taking advantage of an alternative approach to influence. More specifically the aim is to shed light on how small member states are using a lobbying strategy towards the European Commission and the European Parliament in order to maximize their influence on EU-decisions.

The thesis takes the Smart State Strategy and Venue Shopping approaches as the theoretical point of departure, combining them with Exchange Theory and Resource Dependency perspectives. Empirical data on the behavior of small states was collected through a survey showing that these states do indeed engage in lobbying of the Commission and Parliament. States use informal contacts with personnel inside these institutions to further their interests by engaging in a mutual exchange of resources. The analysis indicates that the lobbying strategy generally increases small states’ influence on proposals drawn up in the Commission and Parliament, but it also sheds light on differences in the application of the elements of the strategy and their results.

Read the thesis here.

From Luxembourg to Lisboa - The Development in EU Budget Procedures from 1970 to 2011
This thesis by Asbjørn Brink examines the development of the EU budgetary procedure from the first permanent budgetary procedure was established in the Luxembourg/Brussels Treaties in 1970/75 to the adoption of the Lisbon Treaty in 2009. The theoretical foundation is the rational choice institutionalism, primarily represented by Pollack (2003), Tallberg (2008) and Lindner (2008). 

The thesis finds that the member states have somewhat been able to contain and limit the budgetary powers of the European Parliament and of the European Commission by gradually instating certain administrative- and surveillance procedures, delegating limited amounts of budgetary power and by controlling the agenda-setting powers. Especially the introduction of the multi annual financial framework in 1988 and the Lisbontreaty's annulment of the division between compulsory and non-compulsory expenses have significantly reduced the European Parliament's real influence on the composition of the EU budget. Although especially the European Parliament has been able trough the years to use its budgetary powers to expand its influence into other fields within the legislative areas, the member states have (contrary to the general belief) been able to contain and gradually limit the European Parliament's formal budgetary powers.

Read the thesis here.

Fundamental Rights and the EU's Implementation of UN Targeted Sanctions in the Light of Kadi - A political study of the implications of the Kadi case
The so-called Kadi case, which includes several judgements of the European Court of Justice (ECJ), relates to the protection of fundamental rights under EU law and the EU's interaction with the international system, in the Kadi case exemplified by the UN. On September 3rd 2008 the ECJ delivered a powerful judgement annulling the EU's implementation of UN individual sanctions on the basis, that the sanctions did not respect the EU's protection of fundamental rights. With this judgement, the ECJ questions whether the EU as an independent legal system could or should subject to the legal system of the UN. With a theoretical approach combined of historical and discursive institutionalism, this thesis seeks to give a political analysis of the implications of the Kadi case and to explore the ECJ's influence on the interaction of the EU with other international legal orders.

Read the final thesis by Ragna Petersen here.

Double Play? - An Analysis of the Europeanization  of the Danish Family Reunification Policy
The European Union (EU) has from its very beginning had an objective to grant its workers a right to free movement across the European borders. A secondary effect has since then been the right to bring the family along. As the Union has evolved, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) has functioned as the primary generator of rights when it comes to securing the union citizens' right to family reunification. On the other hand, the Danish legislators have been tightening the domestic rules regarding family reunification for numerous years. In other words, there has been a clear discrepancy between EU law and domestic law on the family reunification area for a long time.

The present dissertation analyzes this discrepancy while trying to gain an insight into the EU's effect on Danish family reunification policies. The historical institutionalism is basis in explaining the dynamics, which characterizes the transitions happening on the domestic level. The Europeanization theory is necessary to obtain a more complete understanding of the process, which the domestic transitions are coined to handle, both regarding institutions and policies. Europeanization theory is expanded by including Conant's model of the ECJ's innovative judicial interpretations of EU law. This focus adds a broader and more accurate insight into the possible policy responses made by the authoritative domestic actors when it comes to the Danish Europeanization process on the area of family reunification.

The analysis shows, that a slow Europeanization of the Danish family reunification policies has happened, but that especially two conditions have been crucial to the process. Firstly, it is the Danish perception of sovereignty; family reunification has traditionally been seen as a purely domestic matter, which is why the Danish authoritative actors still finds it difficult to accept the EU's influence on such policies. In continuation of this point, an institutionalized double game has been taking place, in which the Danish decision makers have tried to meet both EU demands regarding more lenient family reunification policies and domestic demands for tighter policies.  These actions have been an attempt to act politically and pragmatically in a cross-pressure between domestic and European policies that have pointed in opposite directions.

This final thesis by Laura Madum and Maria Bøegh-Lervang won the CEP Final Thesis Prize 2010.

Read the final thesis here (in Danish).  

The European Welfare States: United in Diversity?
Since its founding in the 1950's, the EU has been constructed upon an idea of free movement, including that of persons. Alongside this idea has followed a range of social rights for those EU-citizens using their right of free movement. As the free movement in the first place was confined to workers, these social rights gave none or few problems for the host states' welfare models. The thesis show how the right to free movement and the following rights to social benefits have been expanded to include economically inactive EU-citizens, who thus are given access to social benefits in a host country, where they neither are nationals nor or only in a lesser scale have contributed economically. First the background to this development is analysed by showing how the EU over time has secured a still better access to social benefits for economically inactive citizens; thereupon is shown how five Danish, social benefits all have been more or less altered as a result of this.

This thesis won CEP's annual dissertation award in 2012.

Read the final thesis by Simon Pasquali and Morten Jarlbæk Pedersen here.

Europe's Permanent Paradox? Sovereignty Games in Brussels by the EU's Overseas Countries and Territories
Scattered around the oceans lie what have been termed ‘Europe's Permanent Paradox': formerly colonized islands constitutionally linked to an EU member state without formally being of part of the EU. In this final thesis, Ida Hannibal og Kristine Holst uncovers how these Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs) have achieved a peculiar, but favorable ‘in-betweeness' in relation to the EU. Asking whether this puzzling favorable position could be the result of agency on the part of the OCTs, the thesis investigates whether the OCTs, who are blind spots in political science and escape easy categorization as international actors, can gain influence on the EU's OCT policy. It argues that instead of opting for full independence and sovereignty, these OCTs have used their ‘in-betweeness' strategically and achieved considerable political results in Brussels by forming close alliances with their former colonizers.

Read the final thesis here.

The Judicial Construction of a Political Concept: The European Court of Justice and EU Citizenship
The judicial construction of EU citizenship by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) has granted it increasing importance and an autonomous content. There is disagreement about what EU citizenship actually comprises though. Therefore this thesis by Søren Høgsbro Larsen examines the ECJ's understanding of EU citizenship, as expressed in written opinions of the Advocates General, and traces it in the Citizenship Directive. The opinions are contextual influential assessments of key cases and have not been systematically analyzed before with a focus on EU citizenship. It is concluded that the EU citizenship concept constructed by the Advocates General from 1992 to 2010 is rather 'thin' and passive, but has an evolving 'thick' component associated with a common European identity. This underlines the inherently political role of the ECJ.

Read the final thesis here

Sentenced to integration
The European Court of Justice (ECJ) is regularly criticized for judical activism or politized rulings - criticism that was renewed following the Metock case ruling in 2008. What is the actual reason for this criticism? Did the ECJ overstep its jurisdiction in the Metock ruling or is there, rather, a need for better public understanding of the separation of powers in the EU? In a new final thesis, Freja Fischer-Møller og Gry Midttun analyze seven rulings from the theoretical perspectives of rational and historical institutionalism on the right of third country nationals to reside as family members within the EU. By advancing a theortical model on how the ECJ exerts its political space to manoeuvre, Fischer-Møller and Midttun make an assessment of whether one can actually talk about activist interpretations by the ECJ that lead to a strengthening of third country nationals' right to reside.

Read the final thesis here.

Euro scepticism in a European perspective
This final thesis by Kim Møller Mikkelsen examines the phenomenon of euro scepticism across the current EU member states. Through the last decades, different studies have discussed the nature of this phenomenon, its prevalence and universality. In light of the disagreement in the literature, euro scepticism are analyzed through a statistical analasis on several levels that makes it possible to compare country and individual determinants in the same anylsis- The thesis concludes that Europeans are in fact quite similar in regards to the phenomenon of euro scepticism, and that one risks making an ecological fallacy without the completion of a statistical analysis on several levels if the differences between EU countries are compared. Furthermore, the existence og different types of euro scepticism is confirmed. These differences are best limitations that are created by the globalization processes.

Read the final thesis here.

The European Council - how new-institutional theory explains that agreements on increased integration are reached in an intergovernmental forum
This final thesis by Martin Juul Nielsen is about the European Council. Both practitioners' and researchers have seen it as a paradox that the most intergovernmental institution in the EU, the European Council, has been the most important factor for moving forward integration. This final thesis seeks to explain this paradox. Rational choice institutionalism points to the rotating presidency and the role of the Commission as importnat, as well as a norm about succesful meetings and a norm about a neutral presidency. Finally historical institutionalism points to the significance of the fact that the European Council considers itself to be bound by earlier conclusions.

Read the final thesis here.

An adabtable model of agreement. An Europeanization study of Denmark's implementation of the EU's Posting of Workers Directive
This final thesis by Louise Funder Kristensen won the Centre for European Politics' prize for the best EU thesis in 2009.

Read the thesis here.

When the Community Patent was Thrown into the Garbage Can 
This thesis written by Xenia Hesting aims to explain the failure of EU negotiations regarding the Community Patent in 2004, evaluating the failure against the successful negotiations on the Service Directive in 2006. The thesis centres on the decision making process, and investigates the role of the Commission in order to gain a better understanding of its ability to steer European integration. Drawing on insights from the garbage can model, the analysis demonstrates how the decision making process is affected by parallel events, and how the Commission can make use of these events to promote its proposal. However, drawing on network theory, the ability of the Commission to steer the decision making process is also shown to be contingent upon the network of actors in the European Parliament and the Council that process the draft proposal.

Read the thesis here (abstract is in English)

Denmark as a Green Leader ? A Eupeanization study of Danish Environmental Policies from a Discursive Institutionalist Perspective
The thesis, written by Pernille Husby, presents four case studies in which Danish environmental- and climate policies have strong Europeanization processes. The thesis states that discourse and ideas have had a major importance in relation to Denmark's reputation as a "green leader". The thesis also questions whether Europeanization theory and discursive institutionalism can disregard material matters, among others, in implementation processes.

Read the thesis (abstract in English). 

Lobbyism in the EU: An analysis of the contact between Danish Business Associations and the Danish Members of the European Parliament
Mutual dependency is a determining factor in why contact is established between the Danish business associations and the Danish members of the European Parliament. A work overload in the European Parliament implies that the parliamentarians are dependant on help from the business associations. If we turn to the process concerning the establishment of contact, the analysis points to the existence of an unstructured process characterized by coincidences. This is the conclusion of a new final thesis by Johanne Daugaard Thomsen.

Read the final thesis here (abstract in English).