Interest Coalitions and Multilateral Aid Allocation in the European Union


  • Authors' note: We thank the anonymous reviewers, the editors of International Studies Quarterly, Marc Busch, Mark Copelovitch, Christian Dippel, Simon Hug, Robert Hutchings, Joe Jupille, Katharina Michaelowa, Helen Milner, Dan Nielsen, Richard Nielson, Willem Schudel, Branislav Slantchev, Randy Stone, Mike Tierney, Dustin Tingley, Johannes Urpelainen, Erik Voeten, Jim Vreeland, Nick Weller, Joseph Wright, and the participants of seminars at the Colorado European Union Center of Excellence, Princeton University, Georgetown University, University of Virginia, as well as participants of the Political Economy of International Organizations (PEIO) workshop for their helpful comments on earlier drafts of the paper. The paper was presented at the International Studies Association conference, the Midwest Political Science Association conference in 2009, and PEIO in 2010. Schneider gratefully acknowledges financial support from the UC Berkeley European Union Center of Excellence. A replication package can be found in the ISQ data archive.


This paper analyzes multilateral aid allocation in the European Union (EU). We argue that EU members can influence the aid allocation process toward their national interests if they form powerful coalitions that bias the European Commission's development policies. When EU members' preferences over aid allocation are heterogeneous, the Commission can implement multilateral aid according to its programmatic goals. Greater homogeneity of EU members' goals, however, increases the likelihood that members can form powerful interest coalitions and induce the Commission to allocate aid according to their own national interests. The empirical analysis provides robust support for our theoretical argument, and the findings generally indicate that interest coalitions play an important role in multilateral aid allocation.