Conclusions: A Europe of Agents, a World of Agents

Mark A. Pollack

in The Engines of European Integration

Published in print March 2003 | ISBN: 9780199251179
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191600111 | DOI:
 Conclusions: A Europe of Agents, a World of Agents

Show Summary Details


The member states of the European Union have delegated functions to the Commission and the Court of Justice, which correspond closely to the functions predicted by principal‐agent models; delegation to the European Parliament, however, fits poorly with such models, and appears to be driven primarily by concerns about democratic legitimacy. Turning from delegation to the subsequent activities of supranational agents, the evidence suggests that the EU's supranational agents generally act as unitary actors with a preference for further integration, and that the discretion of these actors to realize their preferences varies systematically with the institutional control mechanisms established by member governments. Looking beyond the European Union, the increasing delegation of executive and judicial powers to international organisations, secretariats and tribunals calls for further study using the tools of principal‐agent analysis. Such international delegation promises significant benefits to participating states, but also raises normative concerns about democratic accountability.

Keywords: accountability; delegation; democracy; European Commission; European Court of Justice; European Parliament; European Union; international organisations; legitimacy; supranational agents

Chapter.  15173 words. 

Subjects: European Union

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.