The Commission's influence in EU foreign and security policy is surprisingly high

The European Commission has exerted a surprising level of influence over decisions in EU foreign and security policy, Marianne Riddervold finds in a new study.

Operation Atalanta (photo: European Union)

Exploring the two cases of the EU naval mission Atalanta and the adoption of an EU Maritime Security Strategy (EUMSS), Riddervold has studied how the Commission influences the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP). Not only in the area of security and defence, but also in maritime policies, member states have been particularly keen to protect their sovereignty, she argues. One would therefore not expect the Commission to have influence beyond its formal competences in these cases.

However, her research, which is published in Journal of Common Market Studies, suggests not only that the Commission was strongly involved in decision-making, but that it also influenced EU policies in both cases. Its influence was the strongest in the EUMSS case, which was redefined by the Commission from a security and defence oriented strategy to a cross-sectoral strategy, which in turn served to increase the Commisson's leverage. In the Atalanta case, the Commission actively cooperated with the French presidency in getting the member states' support for an autonomous EU mission.

Riddervold's findings lend support to the claim that the EU does not behave as a classic international organisation in the domain but rather that the CFSP is moving beyond intergovernmental cooperation. More broadly, they illustrate how social factors such as informal cooperation, expertise and the ability to present convincing arguments all are factors that may have integrative consequences even in cases where member states have strong interests.

Read the blog post: The Commission exerts far more influence over EU foreign and security policy than is commonly recognised

EUROPP (European Politics and Society) Blog, 10 September 2015

Published Sep. 15, 2015 12:37 PM