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Cover The Institutions of the European Union

8. The European Commission:  

the cabinets and the services

Frédéric Mérand

Focusing on the services and the cabinets, this chapter analyses the European Commission as a complex organizational, political, and social institution. Organizationally, it describes the Commission as a unique international bureaucracy which puts its French administrative tradition, consensus-based, and law-heavy internal procedures under the growing influence of an Anglo-American style of management. Politically, the chapter shows that the Commission increasingly behaves like a political executive that seeks to establish its own legitimacy vis-à-vis public opinion and member states by addressing partisan dynamics in the European Parliament. In terms of social relations, the chapter draws from the author’s ethnographic work to explore the transnational life of Commission civil servants and cabinet staffers who have made the Berlaymont their home.


Cover European Union Politics

11. The European Council and the Council of the European Union  

Jeffrey Lewis

This chapter examines the components that constitute the Council system: the European Council and the Council of the EU. Together, these institutions form the part of the Union that unabashedly represents national interests in the European integration process. The EU Council is a site of intense negotiation, compromise-building, and at times acrimonious disagreement among the member states. The EU Council is not a single body, but a composite of national officials working at different levels of political seniority and policy specialization. From the heads of state and government to the ministers, down to the expert-level fonctionnaires (officials), the EU Council and the European Council embed governments of the EU into a networked club of collective decision-making that penetrates into the national capitals and domestic politics of the member states. In authority, scope, and procedural methods, the Council system represents the most advanced, intensive forum of international cooperation between sovereign nation states in the modern world.