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The politics behind the consultation of expert groups: an instrument to reduce uncertainty or to offset salience?

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Ballaert, Bart van

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Abstract This paper answers the following question: Do the uncertainty and salience of issues determine whether the European Commission will use an expert group to assist with policy formulation? Using rationalist theory, three hypotheses test whether transversality, the importance of standard-setting and the salience of a policy proposal determine whether a Commission DG will ask an expert group to assist in preparing that same proposal. Data was retrieved from official documents via EUR-Lex. A binary logistic regression analysis has been conducted on a sample of 260 proposals that were drafted by DG Climate Action, DG Communications Networks, Content and Technology, DG Environment and DG Internal Market and Services. All proposals were adopted between 2010 and 2013. The empirical analysis shows that expert group involvement in policy formulation is neither negligible nor ubiquitous in terms of frequency as expert groups assisted in preparing 33,5% of the proposals. DGs were significantly more likely to consult an expert group when the proposal under preparation was more transversal in nature and/or when that proposal treated standard-setting more pro-nouncedly. In contrast, the salience of a proposal was shown to be insignificantly related to the presence of an expert group during policy formulation.
Keywords bureaucracy; politics; European Commission; setting of norms; regression analysis; expert
Classification European Politics; Basic Research, General Concepts and History of Political Science
Document language English
Publication Year 2015
Page/Pages p. 139-150
Journal Politics and Governance, 3 (2015) 1
Issue topic The role of expert knowledge in EU executive institutions
ISSN 2183-2463
Status Published Version; peer reviewed
Licence Creative Commons - Attribution