Cynical or Deliberative? An Analysis of the European Commission’s Public Communication on Its Use of Expertise in Policy-Making

Open Access Journal | ISSN: 2183-2463

Cynical or Deliberative? An Analysis of the European Commission’s Public Communication on Its Use of Expertise in Policy-Making


  • Cathrine Holst ARENA—Centre for European Studies, University of Oslo, Norway
  • John R. Moodie ARENA—Centre for European Studies, University of Oslo, Norway


Abstract  The European Commission has faced increasing criticism that its use of expertise in policy-making is undemocratic and politicized. In response to critics, the Commission has produced a number of publicly available documents where its expert policies and practices are outlined and discussed. Cynics view public communications of this nature with skepticism, as organizations tend to adopt “smooth talk” and cosmetic rhetoric designed to placate critics and create a façade of compliance aimed at decreasing external pressure. An alternative deliberative approach, would expect the Commission to engage in a relatively open, reflective and reason-based interchange. The article’s main aim is to assess the relative merits of these two approaches in capturing the Commission’s framing of its public communication. Cynical expectations, prevalent among Commission critics, are confirmed by the Commission’s silence on unpleasant topics including the undemocratic nature of existing expertise arrangements and the strategic uses of knowledge in EU policy-making. However, firm regulatory initiatives and the Commission’s critical engagement with democratization demands and possible goal conflicts within their critics’ agenda give significant leverage to a deliberative approach.


Keywords  deliberative democracy; European Commission; expertise; knowledge utilization; organized hypocracy; public communication


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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.17645/pag.v3i1.240


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