The Political Process in the European Union: Decision Making Procedures and Implementation of Policy
This paper is basically concerned with two major questions, which will be pointed out in the following. Therefore the researach is divided into two parts. Very specific questions are written down and the answers are given to the questions in the following. Therefore there is no table of contents necessary due to the fact that the paper is very much based on political science. The research is based on empiric analysis of the topic.
1. The member state level and the European (EU) level do not work separately but constantly “overlap” in the EU decision-making process (for example by way of committees).
This question in general implies that we are talking about multi-level governance. Committees are an example for multi-level governance but they are not the answer to the question. I could finish answering this question here, because the answer is simply ‘yes’, there is an interaction between the state level and the european level. And this is a part of multi-level governance in the European Union. But what is it and how does it work?
Multi-level governance by definition is “the reallocation of authority upwards, downwards and sidewards from central states.” So that means that sovereign states in the first run must not give up their sovereignty in many cases but they have to transfer their authority to institutions of the European Union. For example the overlapping of state interests and the cooperation of states with the european institutions in the committees is an example for the reallocation of authority, though the state remains sovereign according to her national interests.
Also the principle of subsidiarity is closely related to this concept because behind each and every step forward in the european integration process lies the fear of the member states to lose sovereignty. From a realistic point of view international relations today in a system of the European Union still are about sovereignty. Absolute Sovereignty doesn’t exist anymore because the international system has other also actors than states which are seen as subjects under international law. So the state’s interest is to maintain relative Sovereignty. The principle of multi-level governance – the cooperation of state authorities with authorities of the European Union – stresses the link between sovereignty and european flexible integration. Flexible Integration per definitionem is the gradation of rights and obligations among member states (internal flexibility) and among the european contractual partners (external flexibility). This flexibility offers the opportunity to get over structural decision blockades by an incoherent connection of different levels in the decision-making process according to the multi-level governance to create new political volume in the EU.
As we have discussed the theoretical background we can turn over to the so-called comitology. The term ‘comitology’ is used for the committee procedures in the European Union. This procedure oversees the acts implemented by the European Commission. That’s it’s main purpose. As I have already stated, the comittees are a part where the state level and the european level come together. A committee is composed of member state officials chaired by the Commission. So the member states have the right to discuss their special concern(s) in this forum. This forum is only possible because both sides, the european level and the state level, were thinking about a specific regulation before, though the proposal is always initiated by the Commission. What I say is that nobody is really unprepared if this particular proposal is of national interest. Sometimes it can be that a state has simply not a real interest in a specific topic. But in general it is the forum where state and european interests come together.
Most EU legislation is not enacted by the Council and the Parliament but is implemented by the executive duties of the Commission. So all legislative proposals and other legislative documents must be considered within a committee. So the link between member state’s opinion and the opinion of the european institutions is given by the committee procedure
 The term "governance" refers to the decision-making processes in the administration of an organization. Different nations and different organizations within a nation may approach governance concerns. Sometimes it is also used for ‘govern’ or more often it even stands for ‘government’. http://www.ifpri.org/themes/Gov/govglossary.asp
 Liesbet Hooghe, Gary Marks (2001), Types of Multi-Level Governance, European Integration Online Papers (EioP) Vol. 5 No 11. http://eiop.or.at/eiop/texte/2001-011a.htm
 Article 5 of the Treaty establishing the European Community (consolidated version of the Nice treaty) says: „ The Community shall act within the limits of the powers conferred upon it by this Treaty and of the objectives assigned to it therein. In areas which do not fall within its exclusive competence, the Community shall take action, in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity, only if and in so far as the objectives of the proposed action cannot be sufficiently achieved by the Member States and can therefore, by reason of the scale or effects of the proposed action, be better achieved by the Community.”
 Fritz Scharpf (1985), Die Politikverflechtungsfalle: Europäische Integration und deutscher Föderalismus im
Vergleich, Politische Vierteljahresschrift 26 (4), 323.
 Flexibility and the future of the European Union. A Fedeal Trust Report on flexible integration in the European Union. Karen Smith on flexible integration. http://www.fedtrust.co.uk/admin/uploads/FedT_Flexibility_report.pdf
 Arthur Benz (1998), Politikverflechtung ohne Politikverflechtungsfalle . Koordination und Strukturdynamik
im europäischen Mehrebenensystem, Politische Vierteljahresschrift 39 (3), 558.
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- Diplomatische Akademie Wien - Vienna School for International Studies
- Political Process European Union Decision Making Procedures Implementation Policy