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Holding (Quasi-)Autonomous EU Administrative Actors to Public Account

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This article addresses problems of accountability in relation to two specific kinds of administrative actors in the EU system of multilevel governance, namely comitology committees and EU-level agencies. With regard to both sets of actors, the accountability issue is often framed in terms of delegation from a principal to an agent. This article explores the delegation of powers discourse and the question whether this framing adequately covers accountability forums and mechanisms that are emerging as a matter of legal and institutional practice. The latter sub-constitutional level is particularly relevant given the high degree of institutionalisation of both categories of administrative actors. Using these two categories of administrative actors as case studies, this article suggests that a delegation model of accountability in a democratic sense is not adequate and only captures part of emerging practice. A looser conceptual framing, understanding public accountability as a process in which power is checked and balanced by various actors, fits better within a more constitutional perspective on holding EU executive power to account.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Professor of International and European Governance, University of Utrecht.

Publication date: July 1, 2007

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