Introduction: Agency and influence inside the EU institutions

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Series Details Vol.17 (2013), No.3
Publication Date 2013
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The recent structural changes introduced by the Treaty of Lisbon exemplify the dynamic and constantly evolving nature of the European Union (EU)’s institutional system. Given the gradual empowerment of EU institutions, this Special Issue focuses on bringing agents and agency into the study of EU politics and influence. The objective is to explore the roles and activities of specific groups of actors inside the institutions and investigate actors’ capacity to influence (policy-making) processes beyond the analysis of outcomes. To enhance our understanding of influence inside the EU institutions, we believe it is necessary to go beyond outcome-focused formal modelling and quantitative research. We propose an innovative range of theoretical approaches based on qualitative methods, which enable a detailed and in-depth exploration of EU institutions, processes, and the role of actors. This introduction proposes new avenues to conceptualise agency and influence inside the EU institutions – by paying more attention to hidden actors and processes of decision- and non-decision-making. We argue it is particularly important to open up and pursue a new research agenda now that the economic crisis has further underlined citizens’ lack of knowledge of and declining trust in the EU institutions.

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