Chapter 1: Agenda Setting in the European Commission: How the European Commission Structure and Influence the EU Agenda
1. Agenda setting in the European Commission: how the European Commission structure and influence the EU agenda Torbjörn Larsson and Jarle Trondal INTRODUCTION Agenda setting theories claim that what happens in the early stages of the policy-making process has a profound effect on the ﬁnal output and that actors entering the agenda setting phase have a comparative advantage to those entering the later stages. In the European Union the European Commission plays a predominant agenda setting role, especially in matters falling under the ﬁrst pillar, in initiating and preparing proposals for legal acts and nonlegal decisions. In practice, in the EU decision-making cycle the agenda setting phase often overlaps with the decision-making and implementing processes. In 2001, for example, roughly 85 per cent of the EU legislation consisted of legislation delegated to the European Commission.1 This chapter analyses how the European Commission organises the agenda setting phase of the EU policy-making process by means of initiating and preparing legislative, budgetary and programme proposals. Special emphasis is put on how expert groups are being used and what role(s) they play. The study argues that a pivotal characteristic of the Commission agenda setting is the emergence of a community administration that spans levels of government (national government institutions and the European Commission). This community administration integrates decision-making agendas across levels of governance (see also Trondal in this volume). What is often conceptualised as Europeanisation of domestic government institutions by their intimate participation in expert groups2 is hereby pictured as the...
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