EU-level agencies: New executive centre formation or vehicles for national control?

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Series Details No.12, November 2010
Publication Date 2010
ISSN 1890- 7741
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The jury is still out with respect to whether EU-level agencies act primarily as tools of national governments or not, although parts of the literature as well as the legal framework of EU agencies seem to favour the former interpretation. We argue that EU agencies which might be able to act relatively independently of national governments and the Council, but not necessarily independently from the Commission, would contribute to executive centre formation at the European level, and thus to further transformation of the current political-administrative order.

By measuring along several dimensions, we demonstrate that the Commission constitutes by far the most important partner of EU agencies. EU agencies deal (somewhat surprisingly) to a considerable extent with (quasi-) regulatory and politicised issues. When engaging in such areas, national ministries and the Council tend to strengthen their position, however, not to the detriment of the Commission. In addition to the Commission, national agencies make up the closest interlocutors in the daily life of EU agencies, indicating how EU-level agencies become building blocks in a multilevel Union administration, partly by-passing national ministries. We build our analysis on an on-line survey among senior officials in EU agencies.

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