How does the European Commission use scientific expertise? Results from a survey of scientific members of the Commission’s expert committees
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Given the high levels of uncertainty and complexity of issues considered at the EU level, knowledge from sound and reliable sources of expertise is of a particular importance. To date, literature on the role of scientific knowledge and scientists in EU policy-making is relatively scarce. Furthermore, we know little about the scientists involved in EU policy-making: what attitudes do they hold regarding their contribution to policies shaped and adapted at the EU level? How do scientists perceive their role in EU policy-making? The article relies on new data from a survey of scientific members of the Commission’s expert committees to gain insights into the perceptions held by scientists on how their knowledge is used: the literature on knowledge utilisation suggests that an agent can use knowledge as an instrument to increase its problem-solving capacity (instrumental knowledge utilisation), but also for more strategic purposes such as support for predetermined policy preferences (substantiating knowledge utilisation), or as a way of promoting power and influence (legitimising knowledge utilisation). The study finds that strategic uses of knowledge are not highly prominent in the process of proposal drafting. On the contrary, we find that the instrumental mode is perceived as dominant by scientific contributors. Future research need to show whether this mode of scientific knowledge utilisation is also relevant for other stages in the EU policy-making process.
KeywordsEuropean Commission agenda-setting expert committees knowledge utilisation science policy learning
The article was presented at the Annual Meeting of the Dutch and the Flemish Associations of Political Science in Amsterdam, 31 May – 1 June 2012, the Sixth ECPR-SGEU Pan-European Conference on EU Politics, Tampere (Finland), 13–15 September, 2012 and Ludwig Maximilian University doctoral workshop in Munich, 26–27 November, 2012. The authors thank the participants of these conferences, as well as Berthold Rittberger, Michael Blauberger, Fabio Franchino, Jale Tosun and Sebastiaan Princen for insightful comments and suggestions. Julia Partheymüller deserves credit for methodological advice. We also thank the anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments.
The article was developed under the 7th Framework Programme of the European Union (Marie Curie Action): the Multi-disciplinary Initial Training Network (ITN) on Inter-institutional Cooperation in the EU (INCOOP).
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