The many faces of EU committee governance

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Series Details No.2, 2003
Publication Date 2003
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Committees linking national administrations and the EU level play a crucial role at all stages of the EU policy process. The literature tends to portray this group system as a coherent mass, characterised by expert-oriented 'deliberative supranationalism', a term developed through studies of comitology (implementation) committees. This article builds on survey data on 218 national officials in 14 Member States who have attended EU committee meetings. We show that these groups do indeed exhibit important common features. Firstly, expert knowledge rather than country size plays a pivotal role in the decision making process. Secondly, across types of committee, participants evoke multiple allegiances and identities. Although loyalty to various national institutions is most frequently expressed, a considerable proportion also has a sense of belonging to the committees as such. However, we also demonstrate that there is significant variation among types of committee. Council and comitology groups both display behavioural patterns that are strongly intergovernmental in character, while Commission committees seem more multi-faceted in this respect. Although our primary aim here is to give a unique empirical account, our main observations are interpreted from an institutional and organisational perspective.

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