Legislation, Implementation and Deliberation
Edited by Thomas Christiansen and Torbjörn Larsson
Chapter 1: Introduction: The Role of Committees in the Policy-Process of the European Union
Thomas Christiansen and Torbjörn Larsson1 INTRODUCTION This volume seeks to illuminate an aspect of European integration that is omnipresent yet frequently overlooked. It concerns, almost by deﬁnition, the ‘low politics’ of the European Union since it deals with the plethora of committees that prepare, shape, and implement the decisions that are taken by the European institutions. The attention of the media and the public, and largely also of the academic community, tends to focus on the political fora in which decisions are taken – the European Commission, the Council of Ministers, and the European Parliament. And while these institutions indeed are formally responsible for EU policy-making, and as such accountable to the public, looking at them often reveals only a small part of the story. The political level represented by these institutions is the tip of the iceberg of European governance. Submerged below the water-line is a much larger body of administrative interaction, which to a signiﬁcant degree involves the work of committees. Indeed there are so many committees, with such variation in powers, membership and procedures that it is difﬁcult even for the initiated to ﬁnd their way through this jungle. Of course, part of the problem lies in the ubiquity of the term ‘committee’, which is used to describe many different kinds of collective meetings in which aspects of EU policymaking are discussed. But beyond the inherent problem of the inﬂationary usage of ‘committee’, the potential for confusion is heightened by the particular nature...