Executive and bureaucratic politics in the European Union : bureaucratic preferences, executive discretion and procedural control of the European Commission
The neofunctionalist literature asserts that supranational institutions play a crucial role in shaping the process of European integration. Yet, it is not apparently obvious why institutions with far less capabilities and resources than national ones can be so effective. The thesis tries to explain this puzzle focusing on the European Commission. It takes up two related questions: Which motives drive this institution. Under which conditions does it reach its objective (and, hence, affect integration). In other words, the thesis applies domestic theories of bureaucratic and executive politics to the European Union. First, it tests Niskanen's and Dunleavy's hypotheses on bureaucratic preferences on the Union competition and regional policies. It asserts the preeminence of the work-related preferences of the Commission, consisting of managerial discretion and broad scope of functions. Second, it uses a formal model of EU legislative politics and the work of Epstein and O'Halloran and of Gilligan and Krehbiel to quantitatively test the factors that increase the statutory discretion delegated to the Commission. The results show that the uncertainty facing Union legislators about policy actions, policy types and informal decision rules are the most important determinants. Finally, it uses the work of McCubbins and Page to quantitatively test the factors that increase the likelihood and the stringency of procedural controls of the Commission's functions. The results show that unanimity, level of conflict among the Union institutions and uncertainty are key determinants for the establishment of these controls. Level of conflict and uncertainty are also important factors affecting the degree of stringency in control. In conclusion, the Commission enjoys broader discretion and, hence, affects integration when 1) qualified majority is used in the Council and 2) only the Commission is in charge of implementation. However, we should be cautious about its actual room of maneuver because broader discretion correlates positively with the stringency of control.