Decentring European Governance
Eva Krick and Åse Gornitzka have contributed with a chapter on the governance of expertise production in the EU Commission’s ‘high level groups’ in the new volume Decentring European Governance (Routledge).
About the book
Conforming neither to the hierarchical and bureaucratic organization of the European nation-state nor the anarchical structure of international organizations, the European Union (EU) and its predecessors provide an exemplary site for developing a decentred approach to the study of governance.
The book offers an analysis of the formation and transformation of the EU as an example of governance above the nation-state and is framed by the recognition that the construction of the EU has resulted in variegated and decentred forms of governance. The chapters look at distinct aspects of EU governance to bring to light the influence of elite narratives, scientific rationalities, local traditions and meaningful practices in the making and remaking of European governance. As such, each chapter offers a unique contribution to the study of the EU. In doing so, the book challenges dominant narratives of European integration and policymaking that appeal to reified rationalities and social structures, and uncovers the contingency and conflict endemic to European governance.
This text will be of key interest to scholars and students of European Union politics, European politics/studies, governance and, more broadly, to public management, international organizations, anthropology and sociology.
About the chapter
Governance by committees has been a core aspect of everyday policy-making practices in most political systems. It supplements, and at times challenges, bureaucratic hierarchies by providing organised, collegial and most often, ad-hoc settings through which external actors and networks of actors can take part in policy-making. This is particularly evident in the EU’s political-administrative system (Vos 1997) and in this respect it makes up a core element of decentred EU governance. Within the EU Commission’s (Commission) administration, expert groups1 constitute a central organisational model of linking external expertise to the policy process. Recent research has brought us closer to getting an overview of the scale and configuration of this part of EU policy-making in general and more specifically of the overall patterns of participation in different policy fields (Chalmers 2014; Gornitzka and Holst 2015; Gornitzka and Krick 2017; Metz 2015). Yet, we know much less about the governance and dynamics of committee systems and their relationship with societal developments. One such development that is purportedly taking place in modern societies, is an expertisation of governance, i.e. a growing dependency of contemporary policymaking on specialised knowledge (Jasanoff 2005; Maasen and Weingart 2005; Straßheim 2013; Turner 2013). While this claim has often been made, it is rarely investigated over time. What is more, there are a range of different dimensions and shadings of a such growing authority of expert knowledge. You can find expressions of expertisation in the participation patterns of policy advice structures (actor-related dimension), in experts’ practices of sense-and decisionmaking (behavioural dimension) and in the institutionalisation of expertise production and dissemination (organisational dimension). The expertisation claim can manifest itself in the rise of the academic and of scientific practices (scientisation), but also in an increasing reliance on resourceful business stakeholders for providing indispensable ‘technical’, sectoral information (knowledge marketisation) or a growing emphasis on expertise within government departments and agencies (in-house expertisation).
Ch. 6 'The governance of expertise production in the EU Commission’s ‘high level groups’: tracing expertisation tendencies in the expert group system'
Eva Krick and Åse Gornitzka
In: Decentring European Governance
Mark Bevir and Ryan Phillips (eds)