The Commission as an Agent

  • Mark A. Pollack


Nearly four decades into its existence, the precise causal role of the European Commission in the processes of European policy-making and European integration remains theoretically contested and empirically unmapped. The standard theoretical approaches are well known, and require little elaboration here. On the one side, intergovernmentalists such as Moravcsik and Garrett have generally depicted the Commission (and other EU institutions) as essentially passive agents of the EU Member States, facilitating cooperation and lowering transactions and monitoring costs, but unable to exert any independent causal. influence on the process of European integration. Supranational institutions like the Commission do not run amuck and shape the integration process, they argue, but obediently attend to the preferences of the Union’s most powerful Member States (Moravcsik, 1993; Garrett, 1992). On the other side, neofunctionalists, students of the Commission, and students of multi-level governance have often bristled at the idea of the Commission as a ‘mere agent’ of the member governments, asserting that the Commission possesses considerable autonomy or independence from the member governments and often deals directly with interest groups and subnational governments within the Member States (see, for example, Haas, 1958; Marks, 1993; Nugent, 1995).


Member State Vote Rule European Parliament Member Government Unanimous Vote 
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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1997

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  • Mark A. Pollack

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