After Hierarchy? The Differentiated Impact of the European Commission and the Council of Ministers on Domestic Executive Governance

How does the EU's organisational structure affect its impact on domestic governments? This paper investigates Council and Commission influence on national governance. By empirical data from Norway and Sweden it is shown that while the Council consolidates administrative hierarchies, the Commission disrupts such traditional structures by by-passing them.

ARENA Working Paper 22/2005 (pdf)

Torbjörn Larsson and Jarle Trondal

This study offers an organisation theory approach arguing that the differentiated organisatational constellation of the European Union contributes to a differentiated penetration of domestic government decision-making processes. It is argued that the European Commission mainly activates the lower echelons of the domestic government hierarchies, notably professional experts within sector ministries and agencies. Furthermore, the European Commission arguably weakens domestic politico-administrative leadership, the Foreign Office and the Prime Ministers Office. By contrast, the Council of Ministers arguably strengthens domestic politico-administrative leadership, the Foreign Office and the Prime Ministers Office. An illustrative empirical analysis of decision-making processes within the central administrations of Norway and Sweden is offered to illustrate the differentiated domestic impact of the Commission and the Council. Based on a rich body of survey and interview data this analysis reveals that intimate processes of interpenetration between the European Commission and the Norwegian and Swedish central administrations occur largely outside the control of the domestic politico-administrative leadership, Prime Ministers Office and Foreign Office. In Sweden this tendency is somewhat counterbalanced by the inter-sectorally interlocking effect of the Council of Ministers.

Tags: European Council, governance, Sweden, European Commission, organization theory, Norway
Published Nov. 9, 2010 10:52 AM