Enlightened Decision Making. The Role of Scientists in EU Governance
In this paper the authors examine empirically the degree of involvement of scientists in EU decision making. In addition they examine a set of conditions that affects the likelihood for scientists to be involved in EU decision making.
Åse Gornitzka and Ulf Sverdrup
A key feature of democratic political systems is their ability to collect, generate and disseminate information and thereby to improve policies and practices. Multi-lateral institutions in general, and the European Union in particular, are often seen as decision making systems where technocratic experts and scientists play a particularly influential role. Access and involvement of technocratic expertise is contested, sometimes it is regarded as an instrument for increasing legitimacy, but it is sometimes interpreted as technocratic rule antithetical to legitimacy. In this paper we examine empirically the degree of involvement of scientists in EU decision-making. In addition, we examine a set of conditions that affects the likelihood for scientists to be involved in EU decision-making. Our observations shows that scientists are involved in a large share of the expert groups under the European Commission (1/3), but scientists are rarely the only participants in such expert groups. We also show that access for scientists is affected by the stages in the policy cycle and by different institutional settings. In general, we find that scientists are more likely to be involved in tasks related to early stages of the policy making process, and in temporary and informal expert groups. Scientists are less likely to be involved in mature policy fields. Our findings suggest that scientists play an important but still confined role in EU decision-making.