From governing the EU to guarding the governors? Some reflections on mechanisms of accountability and executive power in the EU

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Series Details No.26, Spring 2003, p61-74
Publication Date March 2003
ISSN 1371-0346
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Article abstract:

The approach taken in the work of the Convention on the Future of Europe cuts across many of the tired categories of federalism versus intergovernmentalism and attempts to tailor a Constitution to fit the unique institutional configuration of the European Union (EU). A central issue is the separation of executive power from that of legislative power and the recognition that such power is exercised not only by the Commission and the Member States, but by the Council and its various 'satellites'. In this context, one of the key challenges is to ensure that mechanisms of accountability are developed which ensure that the exercise of executive power is subject to adequate and appropriate scrutiny and control. The problem in this regard is a fundamental under-recognition of the power and role acquired quietly and incrementally by the Council as an institution, particularly the General Secretariat and more specifically the High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP). In the context of ensuring the accountability of such power, the discussion on a possible double-hatted President of the EU takes on a different dimension and presents a clear challenge when compared to the (politically opportunistic) prospect of dual and competing Presidencies.

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