A Not So Technocratic Executive? Everyday Interaction between the European Parliament and the Commission

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Series Details Vol.37, No.1, January 2014, p1-18
Publication Date January 2014
ISSN 0140-2382
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The European Commission, although generally portrayed as a technocratic, non-majoritarian institution, or as an agent of EU member governments, has become increasingly linked to the European Parliament (EP) through a range of semi-parliamentary measures intended to increase the executive’s legitimacy and accountability. In this article we argue that in addition to several highly visible and often treaty-based control instruments, an almost symbiotic, less visible, routine relationship can be observed between the two institutions. Based on an online survey of EP staff, as well as on minutes from EP committee meetings, this article examines the daily interaction taking place between the Commission and the EP, particularly at the level of officials. Although mutual interdependence in the legislative process may trigger daily interaction, the theoretical argument proposed is that the latter is facilitated and reinforced under two particular conditions: (i) if the two institutions share similar organisational patterns, and (ii) if they share similar behavioural patterns. Three such patterns are emphasised: sectoral, ideological and supranational.

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