EUROPEAN GOVERNMENT(S) Executive Politics in Transition?
This paper discusses the ‘agencification’ and fragmentation of national governments, and questions whether a ‘methodological nationalism’ has hindered us from seeing the emerging executive centre at the level above, i.e. the European Commission, and the re-coupling of nationally decoupled agencies into a multilevel Union administration.
The paper starts by discussing what I think most students of government hold to be the most characteristic features of development over the last couple of decades; namely ‘agencification’ and fragmentation of national governments. Interestingly, when dealing with the problems such a development might cause for democratic control and agency accountability, one only tends to look at the relationships between agencies and various national stakeholders, in particular ministerial departments. Has a ‘methodological nationalism’ hindered us from seeing the emerging executive centre at the level above, i.e. the European Commission, and the re-coupling of nationally decoupled agencies into a multilevel Union administration? I try to show how the development of the EU, due to its peculiar institutional architecture, takes quite another direction than the intergovernmental cooperation that we have learnt to know so far and thus comes to challenge governments in an unprecedented way. As regards the latter I draw on several case studies in order to illuminate how national agencies in a sense become parts of two administrations; a national as well as a Union administration. Lastly, I will deal with motors of change; the various attempts at explaining what I in this paper have seen as major changes over the last couple of decades, before I arrive at the conclusion.
A later version of this paper has been published in West European Politics, Vol. 31, Nos 1-2, January-March 2008, pp. 235-257