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The Rise of Committees

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Committees are of increasing importance in the process of EC policy-making, particularly in regulatory fields which touch upon politically sensitive issues. This article discusses the problems which have arisen due to the unforeseen emergence of committees within the institutional framework of the Community. It examines the main institutional conflicts in relation to committees and argues that parliamentary disdain for Comitology notwithstanding, the use of committees in the area of social regulation may be explained through a ‘Member State-oriented’ understanding of the institutional balance of powers. Committees may thus not only contribute to more effective decision-making, but may also secure a degree of subsidiarity. The increasing reliance on committees, however, might nonetheless be argued to detract from the general legitimacy of Community decision-making, especially since committees remain creatures of pragmatism. This article accordingly argues that the lack of transparency within committees, and the absence of general procedural rules upon the activities and composition of committees, should now be compensated for through the evolution of formal and generalisable procedural rules.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Centre for European Law Politics, Bremen

Publication date: September 1, 1997


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