The theme of this book is that decision making in the European Union can be seen as a continuous flow of partly interconnected multilateral negotiations. The European Union as a negotiation milieu can be characterized as a mix of cooperative negotiation behaviour and the negotiating parties' efforts at furthering their respective interests. However, even as we look for a specific EU negotiating style, we have to recognize that EU negotiations vary in several respects. We discover this when we compare negotiations in different issue areas. This chapter is comparative, too, but along another dimension: we will compare some aspects of negotiating behaviour in different types of working groups and committees within the EU political system. 1
Our point of departure is the distinction between three major types of working groups and committees: expert groups, Council working groups, and the implementation committees labelled 'comitology' (cf. Schaefer 1996). The expert groups play a part in the Commission's preparation of policy proposals. The Council's decisions are prepared by the Committee of Permanent Representatives (COREPER), and many different working groups prepare the COREPER decisions (cf. Bal 1995; Hayes-Renshaw and Wallace 1997:97-100). The comitology is part of the Commission's implementation of EU decisions. Its role is dual, though, since it was also intended to be the member states' instrument of control over the Commission in the implementation process (Dehousse 2003). Several different types of comitology committees can be discerned (advisory, managerial, regulatory); these committees have different competences and their rules for decision making vary (van der Knaap 1996; Dogan 1997). However, in this chapter we will largely ignore these differences (even though they appear theoretically important, cf. Steunenberg et al. 1996; Pollack 2003) and treat the comitology as one distinct type of EU committee. We do this because in our study we find very few differences between various types of comitology committees.
Members of these three committee types are appointed according to one and the same principle. As a rule, each member state is represented in each committee. The committees can thus be seen as arenas where the member states interact. These