Controlling covert integration in EU politics

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Series Details No. 27
Publication Date 2016
ISSN 1028-3625
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Without the prospect of new treaty revisions, integration in the European Union is often believed to come at a standstill. However, recent research suggests that deepening integration still continues, albeit in more covert ways. The risk associated with such covert integration is that it is not mandated by the member states and may thus have a major backlash on the legitimacy of the European project.

This paper argues that such fears may be unfounded. Building on prior insights of the principal-agent model in the context of European integration, we argue that any shift in the nexus of decision-making towards the supranational level is accompanied with the installation of control mechanisms. This takes the form of informal governance and increased oversight. The plausibility of this argument is probed on the EU’s propensity to negotiate deep and comprehensive trade agreements. Insights are complemented from the Open-Skies agreement and the role of the European Central Bank during the Eurozone-crisis.

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