Open skies, closed markets: Future games in the negotiation of international air transport
Review of International Political Economy
GB : Routledge
918 - 941 p.
ambiguity, European Union, historical institutionalism, International aviation, multi-level games, United States
How can we explain an international agreement that appears to run counter to the declared objectives of one of the key players? This article examines the US-EU Open Skies agreement signed in 2007 and asks why Europeans accepted the agreement after having rejected a comparable version three years earlier. Theoretical approaches that explain time inconsistency in international negotiations tend to focus on reasons why states can be constrained to accept suboptimal solutions. In multi-level bargaining, principal-agent and bureaucratization theories focus on loss of control and constructivists suggest that governments can become trapped in rhetoric. This article shows that paradoxical agreements can be voluntary and explains them by showing the rationale behind multi-games that include ambiguity about the future. In particular, increasing the flexibility of the agreement allowed negotiators to escape present-day constituent pressures by remaining ambiguous and betting on shifting coalitions.