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Contested comitology? The overlooked importance of the EU Commission

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A crucial task of the European Commission is the implementation of EU law, not least to safeguard the functioning of the common market. To this end, it proposes implementing measures, which are adopted via comitology procedures. Composed of representatives from all member states, the comitology committees are the watchdogs that limit the Commission’s political discretion in implementing EU law. Yet, these watchdogs appear very tame, adopting all of the implementing measures proposed by the Commission. This apparent consensus clashes with the institutional skirmishes that characterize the negotiations on the design of the comitology system and the specification of delegation provisions in daily EU legislation.

In the present article, we set up a unique data set to study the interaction between the Commission and the comitology committees. Specifically, we matched data on the Commission’s internal coordination activities with information in the comitology register. Using latent class analysis, we are able to identify two worlds of comitology with this data set. Dealing with technically complex, non-salient cases, the first world is characterised by high levels of specialisation and hardly any dissenting votes. By contrast, the second world includes politically salient cases, mobilising high levels of total expertise in the Commission and about 35% dissenting votes in the comitology committees. In the second part of the paper, we zoom in on this second world, studying under which conditions dissenting votes are likely.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of European Public Policy
Pages (from-to)891-909
Number of pages19
Publication statusPublished - 2022

    Research areas

  • Comitology, European Commission, implementation, negotiations, specialization

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