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Article

The European Commission  

Hussein Kassim

Novel in both design and function, the European Commission occupies a central position in the political system of the European Union (EU). Compared to other international administrations in other international organizations, its responsibilities are extensive. The Commission is the principal source of EU legislative initiatives. It manages EU policy and processes, monitors the implementation of EU law, and negotiates trade agreements on the EU’s behalf. Though often decried as an “unelected bureaucracy,” the Commission is in fact a hybrid body. Whereas the services of the Commission form a permanent administration, the College, headed by the Commission president, is political. Members of the College, including the president, are appointed by the governments of the member states and elected by the European Parliament every five years, following popular elections to the latter body. The internal functioning of the Commission has attracted considerable interest, particularly among scholars of public administration and comparative politics. With respect to the Commission’s functioning within the wider EU system, the main debates relate to the role of the institution in the EU’s development; the extent of its influence over policy; its executive responsibilities and interaction with agencies at EU and national levels; and, in the context of a wider discussion of the EU’s democratic credentials, the Commission’s accountability. Few dispute the Commission importance, but there is considerable disagreement on how the Commission’s role in integration should be theorized and how the Commission as a body should be conceptualized.

Article

Multi-Level Governance and Public Administration  

Edoardo Ongaro

The literature on multi-level governance (MLG) and the field of the administrative sciences and public administration (PA) can be fruitfully integrated in order to generate knowledge about “the administrative dimension of MLG.” MLG may be defined by Piattoni as “the simultaneous activation of governmental and non-governmental actors at various jurisdictional levels” and perspectives derived from MLG may be applied to a wide set of issues spanning from political mobilization (politics), to policymaking (policy), to state restructuring (polity). It is along each of these sets of issues that it is possible to delineate the contribution that the field of PA can provide to the development of MLG. To MLG as political mobilization, the PA literature brings insights about participatory approaches and collaborative governance. To MLG as policy in multi-level settings, the PA literature brings insights about the functioning of multi-level administration and the role of a multi-level bureaucracy in policymaking processes occurring in compound political systems; the PA literature also contributes insights on public accountability in systems where decision responsibility is blurred, and issues of legitimacy arise. To MLG as polity restructuring, the PA literature offers insights on the administrative dimension of polity restructuring processes, as well as on the dynamics of systemic change and the change management of public governance arrangements. The study of MLG may benefit from drawing from a range of conceptual tools and models developed in the field of PA. Complementarily, PA as an interdisciplinary field of scholarship may benefit from the perspective of MLG, which provides it with a platform to expand the application of concepts like those of collaborative governance; bureaucratic influence on policymaking; public accountability in multi-actor, multi-level settings; or systemic-level change management. In this sense, the generation of knowledge about the administrative dimension of MLG is an addition to both MLG studies and to the field of PA.

Article

Public Administration, Turbulence, and the European Union  

Jarle Trondal

In a multilevel governance system such as the European Union (EU) policy processes at one level may create challenges and dilemmas at lower levels. Multilevel governance involves a multiplicity of regulatory regimes and succeeding governance ambiguities for national actors. These regulatory challenges and ensuring governance dilemmas increasingly affect contemporary European public administration. These challenges and dilemmas are captured by the term turbulence. The inherent state prerogative to formulate and implement public policy is subject to an emergent and turbulent EU administration. Organized turbulence is captured by the supply of independent and integrated bureaucratic capacities at a “European level.” Throughout history (1952 onwards) the EU system has faced shifting hostile and uncertain environments, and responded by erecting turbulent organizational solutions of various kinds. Studying turbulence opens an opportunity to rethink governance in turbulent administrative systems such as the public administration of the EU.

Article

The European Defence Community  

Richard Griffiths

In 1950, France, West Germany, Italy, and the Benelux countries started talks that would culminate in a treaty for a European Defence Community (EDC), a treaty that was signed but never ratified. The initiative for a common European army was the French response to the American demand for a rearmed Germany. Against the background of the North Korean invasion of the South in June 1950 and the numerical superiority of Soviet conventional ground forces on the European continent, US President Truman wanted to see the major increase in US defense capacity in Europe compensated by an equivalent effort in Europe, including a rearmament of Germany. For France, such rearmament, only five years after the end of World War II, was politically unacceptable. With the support of Jean Monnet, Prime Minister René Pléven proposed a scheme for a European army operating within the framework of a single political and military authority. The plan included a European defense minister, appointed by national governments and responsible to a Council of Ministers and a European Assembly. While each state would retain national defense and command structures, there would be no German defense ministry or army. The German troops would be recruited directly into the European army. The Treaty creating a European Defence Community was signed in Paris on May 27, 1952, by all six negotiation parties (Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, France, Italy, and Germany), but was not ratified by France, the initiator of the initiative. On August 30, 1954, the French Assembly decided not to put the EDC treaty to a vote, meaning that it in effect rejected the proposal for a European army. The problem of German rearmament was ultimately addressed by admitting West Germany into the Western Union, which was renamed the Western European Union, and by welcoming it as a member of NATO.