The Politics behind the Consultation of Expert Groups: An Instrument to Reduce Uncertainty or to Offset Salience?

Open Access Journal | ISSN: 2183-2463

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The Politics behind the Consultation of Expert Groups: An Instrument to Reduce Uncertainty or to Offset Salience?


  • Bart Van Ballaert Institut de Sciences Politiques Louvain-Europe (ISPOLE), University of Louvain, Belgium


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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 docu-ments 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 & 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 as-sisted in preparing 33.5% of the proposals. DGs were significantly more likely to consult an expert group when the pro-posal 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:  bureaucratic politics; expert groups; European Commission; policy formulation; salience; uncertainty

Published:   31 March 2015


DOI: https://doi.org/10.17645/pag.v3i1.84


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