From Window-dressing to Windows of Opportunity: Civil Society Actors in the EU Security Regime—The Case of DG HOME

Georgios Kolliarakis

Setting the Stage: Civil Society Organizations in a Contentious Policy Field

The present chapter examines the positioning of civil society organizations (CSOs) in the institutional and organizational context of the European Union Security Research Programme (ESRP). This policy area, despite having emerged after 2001, has stirred controversies in the context of current counter-terrorism and crisis management practices in Europe with regard to the appropriateness, accountability, and compliance of securityrelevant technologies with fundamental rights. Civil society engagement in security research is something distinct, yet closely intertwined with engagement in security policy. Security research can been seen as a crucial form of proactive security policy, and, in this respect, intimately connected with its production and provision mechanisms (Kolliarakis 2014b).

G. Kolliarakis (H)

Institute for Political Science & Cluster of Excellence, Goethe University, Frankfurt, Germany

© The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s) 2017 215

R. Marchetti (ed.), Partnerships in International Policy-Making, International Series on Public Policy,

DOI 10.1057/978-1-349-94938-0_11

The technological trajectories opened during the research and innovation process provide a pool for future security responses. A good number of CSOs are active in crisis management, emergency response, community integration and anti-radicalization, but also in the fields of civil rights and cyber liberties. CSOs are often practitioners and critical activists in the broader spectrum of security provision and consequently their ‘hands-on’ approach renders them potential key actors in research. CSOs have the capacity to ground security R&D in the concerns and requirements of the citizens, while at the same time enhancing compatibility with societal norms and values, and contributing to acceptability and sustainable operative success.

Recent technological advances have given a novel twist to the contentious politics of security. For example, pattern recognition and detection technologies used in public surveillance through CCTV or by Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (drones) can be used for other, unsolicited purposes, compromizing civil liberties and fundamental rights, or discriminating against social groups, while not actually raising the levels of security in society. Defence technologies applied in the military battlefield should be scrutinized in terms of ethical and legal compliance before being transferred to civil protection or border management applications. After recent revelations about massive unsolicited and untargeted mining and storage of citizens’ online transaction data by state authorities and private companies, the pressure has risen for a more transparent and accountable governance of security (research) policy (Kolliarakis 2016a). Security policy seems to systematically resist parliamentary and judicial control, even in liberal democracies, let alone admitting citizen and CSO participation in decision-making (Council of Europe 2016).

The European security research policy landscape is dominated by national and international organizations which engage partners and experts primarily from the high-tech (defence) industry, as well as from Research and Technology Organizations (RTOs) promoting high-tech ‘fixes’ and engineering solutions for comprehensive and complex threats and risks (Statewatch 2009). Public investment in security research should ensure that development and deployment of technological and nontechnological security solutions deliver on their primary objective, that is to serve documented needs of society, and minimize, if not preclude, non-intended undesirable impacts on citizens, who should be the ultimate beneficiaries of research and policy (EC 2014: 2012c). Conceiving the societal dimension of policies on civil security not as an ‘add-on’ to technology development, but as the de facto context of security seems to be an absolute prerequisite for policy effectiveness. This, in turn, needs to be premised upon the conviction that security and its provision are public goods. However, competing policy priorities make it hard at the moment for the European Commission to see the value of engaging a broader and more balanced mix of stakeholders, including CSOs in the ESRP, despite the documented impact of security technologies on ourway of life. This discrepancy is the point of entry for this chapter.

In the following I focus on the positioning of CSOs in the EU Security Research regime within the context of the evolving EU Security Strategy. This is a relatively new, and as of now rather under-researched field of study, albeit politically contentious and deeply consequential (Kolliarakis, 2014a, 2016a). The literature has so far tackled issues of democratic governance in the context of European Security (Eriksen 2011), the role of civil society and CSOs in EU politics (Jobert and Kohler-Koch 2008; Kohler-Koch et al. 2013; Ruzza 2007; Steffek et al. 2007), and the role of CSOs in research (Fondation Sciences Citoyennes 2009; Brodersen et al. 2014; Ferretti and Pavone 2009), but not of CSOs in the specific field of security research.1

In such a turbulent environment, security policy at the European Commission is a challenging multilateral exercise, since it has to strike a path across established policies in other policy areas such as justice, industrial and market policies, communication, transport, and also research and innovation, and also to mobilize stakeholders from all 28 EU member states. Recent research in public policy has pointed at the fact that multiplicity and ambiguity of goals in public organizations may lead to self-serving, ineffective policies, and to implementation paralysis (Ackrill et al. 2013; Rainey and Jung 2015). How goals are formulated is a task embedded in institutional mandates, interdependent with problem definitions, and consequential for relevant stakeholders engaged in the process of policy formulation and implementation.

A number of scholars have convincingly demonstrated that the nonlinearity of the policy process, along with its non-deterministic, and often also non-intended outcomes, can be captured as an interplay between the institutional, organizational, and normative dimensions, conducive to certain constellations in a given policy field (Ackrill et al. 2013; Zahariadis 2008, 2013). What has become known as Multiple Streams Framework (MSF) examines the above three dimensions as they find concrete expression in policies, politics, and problem framings respectively within a given field. These shape the transactions, which, when successfully coupled, lead to the opening or closing of opportunity windows, and enable agency margins for policy entrepreneurs to promote and set their agenda. Often, policy makers under time constraints and diverging interests cannot attend to all (or most crucial) problems, and opt for policies that merely satisfy rather than optimize or solve the problem, and they are subject to random and not strictly ‘rational’ choices (Ackrill et al. 2013, p. 872). The MSF is sensitive to agenda manipulation as the interplay of policies anchored at bureaucracies and institutions, and the more fluid dimension of opportunistic politics by powerful actors struggling to gain traction for their problem frames and their promoted solutions (Daviter 2011). In this regard, the decision to go or stay along one policy path and not take another, is the outcome of all three above dimensions or ‘streams’ coming together.

Subsequently, for the sake of analysis, I will try to address the three streams separately in order to trace openings and closures of opportunity windows for CSO engagement in the ESRP. I will thereby examine three closely intertwined aspects: first, the what dimension, mirrored by the institutional background of an array of policies manifesting the goal ambiguity at the European Commission (EC); second, the what-for dimension as mirrored in dominant EU framings of technology and innovation in tackling threats and security, which impose a series of blinkers and favour certain stakeholders’ constellations at the cost of others. Third, I will turn to the how dimension, as reflected in the politics of key stakeholders in the organizational ecology of the ESRP in order to analyse relationships of competition, opportunistic cooperation, but also co-optation. Finally, I will comment on the conditions and current chances for the emergence of a window of opportunity for the constructive engagement of CSOs in security research and policy.

Based upon the triple MSF framework, I will examine CSOs in security (research) policy-making not merely in the relationship to the EC, but, moreover, within the nexus of policies, framings, and politics. I intend to make, in this regard, a series of observations concerning compatible and competing goals which tend lock-in the ESRP agenda into a supply-driven path within a technology-centred ecosystem of stakeholders. What often tips the balance of staying or abandoning the policy path in contentious ‘wicked’ fields, such as that of security, are stakeholder communities of practice which successfully promote a certain epistemic frame, and make other stakeholders’ agendas appear of lower priority, or even of limited relevance. Therefore, departing from rationalist approaches in policy analysis, where the what-dimension of the policy problem dictates how (and with

whom) to proceed during policy implementation, I will, instead, following the MSF, demonstrate, vice versa, that how is premised upon engagement of certain (influential) stakeholders in the policy ecosystem, who open or close opportunity windows by bringing together problem definitions with institutional resources.

In this context, I advance two arguments, providing tentative answers to a core question raised in the introduction to this volume, that is, what are the enabling and constraining conditions facilitating or impeding CSO engagement in a given policy field? The first one is the (indirect) power of mainstream EU understandings of innovation in relation to R&D, and their impact in making policy paths compatible for certain stakeholders’ interests. Norms, in this context, are often retrospectively instrumental- ized, particularly within ‘wicked’ policy fields such as that of security, in a selective and opportunistic manner in order to justify policy choices against competing ones (e.g. industrial competitiveness and growth, as opposed to the Precautionary Principle and Responsible Research and Innovation) (Rittel & Webber 1973; Richtey 2011). The second argument advanced here relates directly to the overlooked dimension of intra-stakeholder relationships. The policy ecosystem perspective in studying CSOs in the ESRP allows for going beyond the direct relationship of EU institutions and CSOs, by considering their antagonistic or symbiotic relations with other, more powerful stakeholders in the security research landscape, which may lead to competing, ‘fig-leaf’, ‘parasite’, or substantial relationships.

 
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