The European Commission: A Balancing Act Between Autonomy and Dependence

Christian Lequesne

in European Integration After Amsterdam

Published in print March 2000 | ISBN: 9780198296409
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191599989 | DOI:
 The European Commission: A Balancing Act Between Autonomy and Dependence

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Political science studies of European policy usually stress two characteristics: First, they are monographic and empirical, and second, they go beyond a state‐centric approach to European integration. Among the new research tracks, there has been a revisiting of the European Commission, which is no longer viewed as an institutional monolith, but rather as a complex multi‐organization. This chapter adopts an institutional approach and looks at the Commission from the inside without developing any particular case study. It first shows how EU Commission agents can mobilize specific resources to behave as ‘policy entrepreneurs’ in the EU polity with a certain degree of autonomy from the national governments. Second, it defends the autonomy argument by arguing that this policy entrepreneurship is also constrained by endogenous and exogenous factors that make the Commission dependent on the national governments in the EU polity. This balancing act between autonomy and dependence is considered to be the main characteristic of the European Commission. It is also an invitation to look at supranational institutions by linking two analytical perspectives. On the one hand, supranational institutions are the creation of national governments in order to facilitate their interests and bargaining. On the other hand, supranational institutions are also the products of their organizational dynamics.

Keywords: bargaining; European Commission; European integration; European policy; European Union; interests; multi‐organization; national government; policy entrepreneurship; supranational institutions

Chapter.  7264 words. 

Subjects: European Union

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