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Delegation of Power and Agency Losses in EU Trade Politics


  • Eugénia da Conceição-Heldt


This paper addresses the problem of agency losses (agency shirking and agency slippage) in the process of power delegation in EU trade policy. The central question is whether a conflictual situation exists between the interests of the member states and those of the European Commission (agency shirking), or whether the structure of delegation in itself stimulates the agent to adopt a different position from the principals (agency slippage). Drawing on the principal-agent approach, I argue that agency losses are due to the structure of delegation and that the existence of multiple principals with diverging preferences facilitates agency. I find empirical evidence that the Council-Commission relationship on trade politics has different dynamics depending on the negotiating stage. In the initial negotiating stage, when defining the negotiating mandate of the Commission, the relationship is cooperative. Conflict between the Commission and the Council only breaks out in a latter stage of negotiations, when the Commission makes concessions at the international level.

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  • Eugénia da Conceição-Heldt, 2009. "Delegation of Power and Agency Losses in EU Trade Politics," EUI-RSCAS Working Papers 18, European University Institute (EUI), Robert Schuman Centre of Advanced Studies (RSCAS).
  • Handle: RePEc:erp:euirsc:p0212

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Andrew Moravcsik, 1993. "Preferences and Power in the European Community: A Liberal Intergovernmentalist Approach," Journal of Common Market Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 31(4), pages 473-524, December.
    2. Patterson, Lee Ann, 1997. "Agricultural policy reform in the European Community: a three-level game analysis," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 51(01), pages 135-165, December.
    3. Alasdair R. Young, 2000. "The Adaptation of European Foreign Economic Policy: From Rome to Seattle," Journal of Common Market Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 38(1), pages 93-116, March.
    4. Paarlberg, Robert, 1997. "Agricultural Policy Reform and the Uruguay Round: Synergistic Linkage in a Two-Level Game?," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 51(03), pages 413-444, June.
    5. Putnam, Robert D., 1988. "Diplomacy and domestic politics: the logic of two-level games," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 42(03), pages 427-460, June.
    6. Magdalena Frennhoff Larsén, 2007. "Trade Negotiations between the EU and South Africa: A Three-Level Game," Journal of Common Market Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 45, pages 857-881, November.
    7. Chad Damro, 2007. "EU Delegation and Agency in International Trade Negotiations: A Cautionary Comparison," Journal of Common Market Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 45, pages 883-903, November.
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    trade policy; agriculture policy; European Council; European Commission;

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