Tackling the Eyjafjallajökull Volcanic Ash Crisis: How the EU influenced the International Civil Aviation Organization

University essay from Lunds universitet/Statsvetenskapliga institutionen

Abstract: The goal of this single-case study is to contribute to understanding of the Eyjafjallajökull volcanic ash crisis from the institutional perspective. The Eyjafjallajökull eruption in April 2010 and the subsequent volcanic ash crisis grounding the flights across Europe demonstrated certain procedural inadequacies in the international aviation regime. This prompted the two institutions responsible in the area of civil aviation - the EU and ICAO - to interact with each other in order to tackle the crisis. The EU, supported by the expertise of the European aviation bodies adopted an approach to volcanic ash that allowed resuming the flight operations in Europe. This approach was afterwards incorporated by ICAO into its amended volcanic ash procedures. Process-tracing technique is employed in order to analyze the EU - ICAO interaction by examining all their initiatives undertaken in the context of the crisis. As a result it is concluded that the EU exerted causal influence on ICAO in adoption of the new procedures through causal mechanism based on commitment. The theoretical framework, constructed on the basis of the approaches that complement each other: regime theory, epistemic communities, normative institutionalism and the conceptual framework of institutional interaction, provide interpretations for the case analysis.

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