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Chapter

This chapter examines the European Commission’s functions and structure, along with its role in policy making. The Commission initiates legislation, may act as a mediator, manages some policy areas, is guardian of the Treaties, is a key actor in international relations, and the ‘conscience of the European Union’. The chapter proceeds by discussing the debate on the extent to which the Commission is an autonomous political actor or simply an agent of the member states. Finally, it analyses the increasing challenges faced by the Commission in securing effective implementation of EU policies and its response to concerns over its financial management of EU programmes.

Chapter

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.

Chapter

This chapter examines the inhabitants of, and working visitors to, the Council of Ministers’s headquarters in Brussels. The Council of Ministers has always occupied an important position among the European institutions and in European policy-making. As a European Union institution, it is involved in all areas of EU activity, both by legislating in tandem with the European Parliament (EP) and by coordinating the member states’ policies in particular fields. The chapter first traces the origins of the present-day Council of Ministers before discussing its hierarchy and what the Council does. It then considers how the Council deals with the other EU institutions such as the European Council, the EP, and the European Commission. It shows that the Council embodies the enduring tension between supranationalism and intergovernmentalism as explanatory tools for understanding the construction of the EU.

Chapter

Helen Wallace and Christine Reh

This chapter examines the European Union’s institutional design and how its institutions interact with national institutions in five different policy modes. It first considers the evolving role and internal functioning of the European Commission, Council of the EU, European Council, European Parliament, and Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU). It also discusses quasi-autonomous agencies, in particular the European Central Bank (ECB), institutionalized control and scrutiny, and non-state actors. It concludes with an analysis of five EU policy modes that capture the different patterns of interaction between EU and national institutions: the classical Community method, the regulatory mode, the distributional mode, the policy coordination mode, and intensive transgovernmentalism.

Chapter

This chapter examines the complexity of the European Union as a foreign policy actor by focusing on its so-called Big Bang enlargement. Three of the largest EU members — Britain, France, and Germany — differed in their beliefs about the implications of enlargement for their own national interests, shifts to the existing balance of power within the EU, the impact on the functioning of EU institutions, and the future of the integration process. The chapter first provides an overview of EU foreign policy before discussing the historic decision to enlarge the EU in 2004 and 2007. In particular, it analyses the significance of European norms in reshaping member states’ interests and the supranational role of the European Commission in framing and implementing the decision to enlarge the EU. It also considers the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) as an alternative when the powerful instrument of the EU enlargement is no longer available.

Chapter

This chapter focuses on the European Parliament (EP), the one directly elected institution of the European Union. It first provides an overview of the EP’s composition and functions, before discussing the struggle for increased powers within the EP. It then considers debates and research on the EP. The focus of contemporary research on the EP includes political behaviour and EP elections, the internal politics and organization of the EP, and inter-institutional bargaining between the EP, the European Council, and the European Commission. One theme of the academic debate is the extent to which the EP has become an effective independent actor in the affairs of the EU.

Chapter

This chapter examines the normative question of what kind of organization the College of Commissioners, the European Commission’s most political level, should be: a policy entrepreneur, an honest broker, a manager of decisions taken by others, or an engine of integration. It first traces the origins and history of the College of Commissioners before discussing its structure, focusing on the President, the college itself, and the cabinets. It then considers the Commission’s powers and its influence over most ‘history-making’ decisions about the broad sweep of European integration. The chapter also explores the politics underlying the Presidency by looking at the case of two controversial presidents of the Commission, Jacques Santer and Jean-Claude Juncker. It argues that the Commission and most of what it does have always been highly politicized despite its ambitions to be an honest broker between national interests and an independent guardian of the European Union’s Treaties.

Chapter

13. Environmental Policy  

Contending Dynamics of Policy Change

Andrea Lenschow

This chapter focuses on the European Union’s environmental policy, the development of which was characterized by institutional deepening and the substantial expansion of environmental issues covered by EU decisions and regulations. Environmental policy presents a host of challenges for policymakers, including the choice of appropriate instruments, improvement of implementation performance, and better policy coordination at all levels of policy-making. The chapter points to the continuing adaptations that have been made in these areas. It first considers the historical evolution of environmental policy in the EU before discussing the main actors in EU environmental policy-making, namely: the European Commission, the Council of the European Union, the European Parliament, the Court of Justice of the European Union, and environmental interest groups. The chapter also looks at the EU as an international actor.

Chapter

Richard Corbett, John Peterson, and Daniel Kenealy

This chapter examines five of the European Union’s key institutions: the European Commission; the Council of ministers; the European Council; the European Parliament; and the European Court of Justice. It draws analogies to these institutions’ counterparts at the national level while also highlighting their distinct and unique features. It discusses the structures and formal powers of the five EU institutions and how they ‘squeeze’ influence out of their limited Treaty prerogatives. It concludes by explaining why these institutions matter in determining EU politics and policy more generally, focusing on three central themes: the extent to which the EU is an experiment in motion; the importance of power sharing and consensus; and the capacity of the EU structures to cope with the Union’s expanding size and scope.

Chapter

This chapter examines the new strategy adopted in March 2000 by a special European Council in Lisbon to make the European Union (EU) more competitive, culminating in the signing of the Treaty of Lisbon. The Amsterdam Treaty had scarcely entered into force before further Treaty reform emerged on the agenda. Throughout the year 2000, a new intergovernmental conference met to address outstanding institutional issues that had not been settled at Amsterdam. It concluded in December 2000 with the longest European Council in history, which led to the Treaty of Nice. The chapter first considers the Nice Treaty, before discussing the Lisbon Strategy, the European Security and Defence Policy, the Constitutional Treaty, the issue of enlargement, the European Parliament (EP), and the nomination of a new European Commission. It ends with a discussion of the Treaty of Lisbon.

Chapter

This chapter examines the revival of European integration from the mid-1970s to the late 1980s. It first considers leadership changes in the European Commission before turning to the European Council and the European Monetary System (EMS), the Commission’s southern enlargements, and the British budget rebate. It then discusses leadership changes in the Commission from 1981 to 1982, the Single European Act (SEA), and the European Council meeting at Fontainebleau in June 1984. It also looks at the initiatives of various Commission presidents such as Roy Jenkins, Gaston Thorn, and Jacques Delors. Finally, it describes the implementation of the SEA, widely seen as the big breakthrough in the revival of European integration.

Chapter

16. Trade Policy  

Policy-Making after the Treaty of Lisbon

Stephen Woolcock

This chapter examines the decision-making process in the European Union’s trade and investment policy following the changes brought about by the Treaty of Lisbon. It shows how EU policy competence has been extended progressively over many years due to internal institutional developments, but also in response to demands made upon the EU by external drivers. It also considers the respective roles of the EU institutions and argues that effective policy-making requires that all of the major actors have faith in the decision-making regime. Such a regime involving the European Commission and the European Council was developed by the EU over many years. The challenge for decision-making is for the European Parliament to be integrated into this regime. The chapter explains how the EU has shifted to a policy that includes the active pursuit of free trade agreements in parallel with efforts to promote a comprehensive multilateral trade agenda.

Chapter

This chapter examines two important developments in the history of the European Union (EU): the signing of the Maastricht and Amsterdam Treaties. In June 1989, the European Council agreed to European Commission President Jacques Delors’s three-stage plan for monetary union by 1999, despite British opposition. In 1991, intergovernmental conferences (IGCs) were held on both monetary union and political union. The proposals of these IGCs were incorporated into the Treaty on European Union (TEU), agreed at Maastricht in December 1991. The TEU marked a major step on the road to European integration. It committed most of the member states to adopting a single currency and introduced the concept of European citizenship, among others. This chapter considers the events leading up to the signing of the TEU, from the Maastricht negotiations to the issue of enlargement, the 1996 IGC, and the Treaty of Amsterdam.

Chapter

Morten Egeberg

This chapter provides a general introduction to the European Commission, the main executive body of the European Union (EU). It argues that it is more productive to compare the Commission to national executives or to a government than to a secretariat of a traditional international organization. It begins with a summary of the Commission’s functions within the EU’s policy process. It then considers the question of Commission influence and autonomy, before moving on to look at the structure, demography, and decision behaviour within the organization—that is, at the role of the President of the Commission and the Commissioners, at the Commissioners’ personal staffs, and at the Commission administration. It then examines the committees and administrative networks that link the Commission to national administrations and interest groups, and also deals with the recent growth of EU agencies. The chapter concludes by emphasizing that the Commission is much more of a European(ized) and supranational institution than it was at its inception.

Chapter

13. Environmental Policy  

Contending Dynamics of Policy Change

Andrea Lenschow

This chapter focuses on the European Union’s environmental policy, the development of which was characterized by institutional deepening and the substantial expansion of environmental issues covered by EU decisions and regulations. Environmental policy presents a host of challenges for policy-makers, including the choice of appropriate instruments, improvement of implementation performance, and better policy coordination at all levels of policy-making. The chapter points to the continuing adaptations that have been made in these areas. It first considers the historical evolution of environmental policy in the EU before discussing the main actors in EU environmental policy-making, namely: the European Commission, the Council of the European Union, the European Parliament, the Court of Justice of the European Union, and environmental interest groups. The chapter also looks at the EU as an international actor.