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How external interests enter the European Commission: Mechanisms at play in legislative position formation


  • Hartlapp, Miriam
  • Metz, Julia
  • Rauh, Christian


The European Commission, Europe's central supranational bureaucracy, is often depicted as a playground for external interests. The scholarly literature offers a range of sensible explanations how the Commission position is bound by national, organised societal, or party political interests. Despite substantial contributions, the empirical approach supporting such arguments often focuses on the mere comparison between a particular external interest and the legislative outcome. In this paper, we aim to add a more process-based, mechanismic perspective by empirically focussing the question how certain external interest found their way into a Commission position as captured by a legislative proposal. Against the background of a larger research project which analyses 48 position formation processes in the Commission on the basis of 133 in-depth interviews with participating officials, this paper presents mechanisms linking external interest to the final Commission position and that are transferable across specific drafting processes and across different policy fields.

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  • Hartlapp, Miriam & Metz, Julia & Rauh, Christian, 2010. "How external interests enter the European Commission: Mechanisms at play in legislative position formation," Discussion Papers, Schumpeter Junior Research Group Position Formation in the EU Commission SP IV 2010-501, WZB Berlin Social Science Center.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:wzbpfe:spiv2010501

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Hartlapp, Miriam, 2009. "Learning about policy learning. Reflections on the European Employment Strategy," European Integration online Papers (EIoP), European Community Studies Association Austria (ECSA-A), vol. 13, November.
    2. Miriam Hartlapp & Julia Metz and Christian Rauh, 2010. "The agenda set by the EU Commission: the result of balanced or biased aggregation of positions?," Europe in Question Discussion Paper Series of the London School of Economics (LEQs) 1, London School of Economics / European Institute.
    3. Gerring, John, 2008. "The Mechanismic Worldview: Thinking Inside the Box," British Journal of Political Science, Cambridge University Press, vol. 38(01), pages 161-179, January.
    4. Abdul Ghafar Noury & Simon Hix & Gérard Roland, 2005. "Power to parties: cohesion and competition in the European Parliament 1979-2001," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/7752, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
    5. George Tsebelis & Geoffrey Garrett, 2000. "Legislative Politics in the European Union," European Union Politics, , vol. 1(1), pages 9-36, February.
    6. Abdul Ghafar Noury & Simon Hix & Gérard Roland, 2006. "Dimensions of politics in the European Parliament," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/7750, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
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