The ‘parallel administration’ of the European Commission: National officials in European clothes?

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Series Details No.25, 2001
Publication Date 2001
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This paper poses the following question: Do the Commission manage to transform the loyalties and identities of Commission officials seconded on short-term contracts? Secondment refers to national civil servants hired on temporary contracts within the European Commission (from 3 months up to 3 years). Studying the mix of national and supranational loyalties amongst Commission officials is important in order to assess the integrative and transformative power of the European Commission. Moreover, the 'parallel administration' of the Commission is an important laboratory for studying integration across the EU/nation-state interface. This study applies an institutional middle-range approach to analyse and assess the transformative power of this 'parallel administration'. Arguably, supranational allegiances are likely to be evoked among seconded personnel under three conditions: (i) intensive and sustained participation within the Commission at large, and within different DGs; (ii) non-compatibility in organisational structures and institutional core-values between national administrative systems and the EU Commission; and finally (iii) particular social and physical environments embedding seconded personnel while staying in Brussels. Based on these scope conditions this paper outlines a middle-range research agenda for future empirical studies.

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