The Normalization of the European Commission: Politics and Bureaucracy in the EU Executive

ISBN : 9780199665693

Anchrit Wille
256 Pages
162 x 236 mm
Pub date
Jun 2013
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The European Commission started out in the 1950s as a technocratic international organization. Today, it has acquired many of the organizational features and behavioural patterns that are highly typical of the 'normal' executives in national settings. This 'normalization' of the EU executive is due to a series of treaty reforms and internal administrative transformations that were effectuated after the demise of the Santer Commission. Based on a large number of in-depth interviews with commissioners, heads of cabinet, and senior civil servants in the Commission, and on extensive documentary evidence, this study shows how a reinforced regime of political and administrative accountability has profoundly changed the executive relationships between politicians and bureaucrats in the Commission. The book presents a grounded empirical portrait of life at the top in the EU, exposing the Commission's struggle to revive its legitimacy and to turn it into a more transparent, accountable, and efficient organization during the Prodi and Barroso's tenures. Officials and office-holders describe in their own words the imperatives they face and the relationships they maintain, providing readers a rare insight into the day-to-day practices in one of the world's most powerful executives.


Preface: Politics and Bureaucracy in an Evolving Executive
1. Normalized Executive Politics
2. The Reinvention of the European Commission
3. From Technocrats to Politicians: the Commissioners
4. From National Agents to EU Advisers: the Chefs of Cabinet
5. From Mandarins to Managers: the Senior Civil Service
6. An Emerging Politics-Bureaucratic Dichotomy
7. Executive Relationships in a 'Normalized' EU Commission
8. The Normalization of the EU Commission
Epilogue: Quo Vadis?

About the author: 

Anchrit Wille is senior researcher and lecturer at Leiden University's Institute of Public Administration, where she teaches classes in political science, public administration, policy evaluation, research methods, and research design. She holds an MA in Political Science and a PhD in Social Science from the University of Amsterdam. Her research agenda focuses on: executive politics, political-administrative relationships, democratic governance and accountability; and on citizen politics, public opinion, and political representation. She has published in such journals as Public Administration, West European Politics, International Review of Administrative Sciences, Journal of Happiness Studies, European Sociological Review, and Acta Politica.

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