How time empowers agency: combining the EU Commission’s political powers and its administration’s advantage of acting from a long-term perspective

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Series Details Vol.39, No.3, April 2017, p303-317
Publication Date April 2017
ISSN 0703-6337
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Politics in time has recently gained in scholarly attention, particularly in the area of EU studies.

This article adds to this literature by arguing that differences in administrative and political actors’ time horizon are particularly pronounced in the EU multilevel system and showing how this can be used strategically by actors. This matters because unlike national administrations with long-term perspectives, the EU Commission is endowed with powers in policy-making. This combination allows it to turn time into power by opting for strategies that yield benefits after a couple of years.

The argument is illustrated with two long-term strategies employed by the Commission in controversial EU equal treatment policy-making.

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