From Agent to Political Institution

In the latest issue of Public Administration, Morten Egeberg reviews four recent books on the European Commission, the only supranational executive in the world.

The European Commission is a unique institution within a unique polity, and is probably also one of the most investigated executives in the world, Egeberg writes. In the book review essay, he reviews four books on the Commission which have recently been published. The focus is on how the different publications ’shed new light on the extent to which the Commission has become more of an institution in its own right, rather than an agent or instrument’. Egeberg notes that the four books build on an impressive collection of data, which includes documentary sources, over 600 interviews with policy-related staff, and an online survey with nearly 2000 respondents.

Egeberg concludes that 'the four books have added substantially to our knowledge about the only supranational executive in the world. The European Commission today is probably better described as an institution with its own will than as a mere agent or instrument for someone else. It is probably more of a political body than a typical technocracy. So far the Commission has shown considerable resilience in spite of extensive enlargement of the EU. Nevertheless, there may be "limits to growth". Arguably, the existence of a professional bureaucracy and relatively distinct administrative and political roles as we have observed in the Commission cannot be entirely independent of certain civic culture qualities within the member states.'

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Morten Egeberg
'The European Commission: From Agent to Political Institution'

Public Administration, vol. 92, no. 1, 2014, pp. 240-246
DOI: 10.1111/padm.12094

 

Published Apr. 28, 2014 9:52 AM - Last modified Apr. 28, 2014 9:53 AM