The Commission as an Agent: Delegation of Executive Power in the European Union

Mark A. Pollack

in The Engines of European Integration

Published in print March 2003 | ISBN: 9780199251179
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191600111 | DOI:
 The Commission as an Agent: Delegation of Executive Power in the European Union

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European Union governments have delegated executive and agenda‐setting powers to the Commission primarily to reduce the transaction costs of policy‐making, and they have designed complex control mechanisms to limit the discretion of the Commission in the policy process. Examines the record of delegation to the Commission throughout the EU's history, measuring the extent of delegation and Commission discretion across 35 different issue‐areas. Almost without exception, member states delegate to the Commission precisely the functions hypothesized by principal‐agent models, including most notably monitoring compliance, setting the legislative agenda and laying down expert and credible market regulations. Similarly, however, the Commission is closely monitored by member governments, which have adopted a carefully designed and calibrated system of appointment and censure mechanisms, ‘comitology’ or oversight committees and administrative law and judicial review by the European Court of Justice.

Keywords: administrative law; comitology; delegation; discretion; European Commission; European Union; executive; judicial review; principal‐agent model; regulation

Chapter.  31504 words. 

Subjects: European Union

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