Executive Politics as Usual: Role Behaviour and Conflict Dimensions in the College of European Commissioners

This paper aims at understanding role behaviour and conflict dimensions in the College of European Commissioners.

ARENA Working Paper 17/2005 (pdf)

Morten Egeberg

While role behaviour and conflict dimensions in the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union have been fairly well documented, studies on the internal functioning of the College of the European Commission have been almost lacking. Thus, highly inconsistent images exist; ranging from portraying Commissioners as mainly independent Europeanists on the one hand, to seeing them as primarily national ‘ambassadors’ on the other. Although the main purpose of this article is to theorise College behaviour, some exploratory data indicate that Commissioners first and foremost champion their sectoral portfolio interests, while at the same time, although variably, being attentive to their collective responsibility within the Commission, their country of origin as well as their political party. Theoretically, Commissioners’ decision behaviour is accounted for by considering the organisational structure, demography, locus and culture within which they are embedded, as well as the type of policy they are dealing with. It seems as if politics in the College has much in common with politics within national cabinets.

This paper has later been published in Journal of European Public Policy 13 (1): 1-15, 2006

Tags: European Commission, organization theory, role conceptions, interest representation
Published Nov. 9, 2010 10:52 AM - Last modified Apr. 12, 2011 1:30 PM