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Comparative Trends in EU Governance

04 Jul 2019 - 15:16
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From the ‘Ordinary’ Method to the Transgovernmental Method?

We observe an emerging split between policy areas that are governed by the Community/Ordinary method, such as more technical single market issues, and politically sensitive policy areas that are governed by what is usually termed as “intergovernmentalism.” However, the governance structures that we see emerging in politically sensitive policy areas cannot be properly described as “intergovernmental” because they display a stable set of new interinstitutional relations, in which the European Commission also plays a varying role, albeit that the Member States overall have a more pronounced role. Hence, we see a shift from “the” interinstitutional balance to the emergence of two different interinstitutional balances: the Ordinary method and the Transgovernmental method.

Transgovernmentalism is characterised by a bigger role for the Member States and a less strategic role for the Commission (and hence the EP and European Court of Justice) compared to the Ordinary method, but goes beyond simple intergovernmental governance, because it is clearly based on standing European practices, meetings with defined procedures and reporting mechanisms. Evidently, the role of the European Parliament is different in both areas. The consequence for the further development of defence policy is that we assume that it will develop along the lines of transgovernmental governance, even though the European Commission and potentially other EU institutions might favour the “efficiency” of a single, Ordinary method, with a more focal role for the European Commission in the interinstitutional balance.

About the authors

Adriaan Schout is Senior Research Fellow and Coordinator Europe at the Clingendael Institute. He combines research and consultancy on European governance questions for national and European institutions. He has worked amongst others on projects addressing issues of the EU presidency, EU integration and improving EU regulation.

Dick Zandee is Head of the Security Unit and Senior Research Fellow at the Clingendael Institute. His research focuses on security and defence issues, including strategies, policies, capability development, research and technology, armaments cooperation and industrial aspects.

Wouter Zweers is a Junior Researcher at the ´Europe in the World´ unit of the Clingendael Institute. His research revolves around the external dimension of EU policy making, focussing specifically on the European Neighbourhood Policy, EU enlargement policies and migration.

Julian Mühlfellner is a Research Assistant at the ‘Europe and the EU’ unit of the Clingendael Institute, where he focusses on the role of the European Commission and the European Parliament in EU governance.