Abstract: Despite the growing importance of EU regulatory agencies in European decision-making, academic literature is missing a systematic explanation of how regulatory agencies actually contend with their core tasks of providing scientific advice to EU institutions. The article contributes to the theoretical explanation of when and under what conditions different uses of scientific expertise prevail. In particular, it focuses on theoretical explanations leading to strategic substantiating use of expertise followed by an empirical analysis of single case research. Substantiating expertise use refers to those practices in which an organisation seeks to promote and justify its predetermined preferences, which are based on certain values, political or economic interests. Empirical findings are discussed in the light of the theoretical expectations derived by streamlining and combining the main arguments of classical organisational and institutional theories and recent academic research. Process-tracing techniques are applied to investigate the process by which an EU regulation restricting the use of neonicotinoid pesticides (European Commission, 2013) was developed. The empirical analysis combines a variety of data sources including official documents, press releases, scientific outputs, and semi-structured interviews with the academic and industry experts involved in the process. The study finds that the interaction between high external pressure and high internal capacity leads to the strategic substantiating use of expertise, in which scientific evidence is used to promote the inclinations of actors upon which the agency depends most.
Keywords: bee health; EU Regulation; European Commission; European Food Safety Authority; neonicotinoid pesticides; risk assessment; scientific expertise