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Expertization of public inquiry commissions in a Europeanized administrative order (EUREX) (completed)

EUREX looks into the role of scientific expertise in the preparation of public policies. What are the consequences for democracy of increased expertization and Europeanization?

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About the project

Public inquiry commissions are a core element of policy-making in the Nordic countries. Previous research suggests that these commissions function both as an extension of public administration, as a way of including interest groups in policy formulation, and as a channel for incorporating expert advice in decision-making.

However, ongoing changes in conditions for governance are challenging the traditional role of inquiry commissions. Both expertization, the increasing reliance on experts in politics and public administration, and Europeanization, the processes by which national governance systems adapt to European-wide norms and EU-level bodies, have put existing policy advice mechanisms under pressure. These processes raise fundamental questions about the continued functioning and legitimacy of inquiry commissions: Is the investigation of policy problems and solutions increasingly left to a small elite of national and international experts? Are processes of expertization and Europeanization eroding the democratic and governance credentials of inquiry commissions?


EUREX will provide a study centered on the Norwegian system of public inquiry commissions, known as NOUs (Norges offentlige utredninger) where two main research questions will be examined:

  1. How has the NOU system changed in response to processes of expertization and Europeanization?
  2. What are the consequences of these changes for democracy and good governance?

These questions will be addressed within a multi-dimensional, multi-method research design that incorporates historical, comparative, European and normative dimensions. The project will analyze the transformation of the NOU system over time in light of expertization and Europeanization, across policy areas, in contrast to simultaneous changes in other countries, and from the perspective of competing normative goals.

Partner institutions

  • University of Oslo, ARENA Centre for European Studies, Cathrine Holst (project coordinator)
  • Leiden University, Institute of Public Administration, Johan Christensen (project coordinator)
  • Aarhus University, Department of Political Science, Peter Munk Christiansen
  • Heidelberg University, Max Weber Institute of Sociology, Kathia Serrano-Velarde


Funded by the Research Council of Norway's DEMOS programme.

Project period: 1 July 2016 - 31 October 2020

Published July 15, 2016 11:00 AM - Last modified July 12, 2021 12:00 PM



Cathrine Holst

ARENA Centre for European Studies, University of Oslo

Johan Christensen

Institute of Public Administration, Leiden University