The Engines of European Integration: Delegation, Agency, and Agenda Setting in the EU

By Mark A. Pollack | Go to book overview
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Chapter 5 Liberalizing Europe: The Commission, the Court, and the Creation of a European Market

So far, we have seen how the member governments of the European Union have systematically delegated specific functions to the Commission, the European Court of Justice, and the European Parliament, and tailored the discretion of these actors through the use of more or less constraining control mechanisms. More specifically, we have seen that the record of delegation to the Commission and the Court of Justice strongly supports the hypotheses that member-state principals delegate specific functions to their agents in order to reduce the transaction costs of EU policy-making, and that the discretion of each agent reflects issue-specific demands by member governments for credible commitments and for speedy and efficient decision-making. In this chapter and the next, we turn from our initial focus on delegation to a focus on agency, testing two further hypotheses about (1) the preferences of supranational agents such as the Commission and the Court and (2) the conditions under which these agents might be able to influence policy outcomes through their executive, judicial, and agenda-setting powers. Regarding the preferences of supranational actors, I hypothesized in Chapter 1 that supranational agents are characterized by a common preference for greater competences for themselves and for the European Union as a whole, including both the liberalization of the European internal market and the reimposition of social regulations from the European level, and that these organizations represent their preferences consistently vis-à-vis other actors despite the presence of internal conflicts within each organization. Regarding the conditions under which supranational actors may exert an independent causal influence on policy outcomes, the hypotheses put forward in Chapter 1 suggest that the discretion of an

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