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Institutions of the European Union

Institutions of the European Union (4th edn)

Dermot Hodson and John Peterson
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date: 28 November 2023

p. 1878. The Commission Services: A powerful permanent bureaucracylocked

p. 1878. The Commission Services: A powerful permanent bureaucracylocked

  • Liesbet Hooghe
  •  and Christian Rauh


This chapter examines the functions and organization of the European Commission services, arguing that they are a bureaucracy with unique agenda-setting powers at the heart of the European Union polity. It begins with an overview of the origins and evolution of the Commission services, focusing on the influence of Jean Monnet, first President of the High Authority of the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC), and how the services were shaped by national bureaucratic models as well as international organization models. The chapter proceeds by discussing the Commission services’ powers, structure, and functioning and what the officials think about the role of the institution with respect to agenda-setting, nationality, and EU governance. It argues that while the Commission bureaucracy has become more circumspect of bold political initiatives, neither its capacity nor its will to play a strong policy role in Europe have been significantly weakened.

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