Negotiating bilateral trade agreements in the European Union : Commission autonomy and Member State control
Title: Negotiating bilateral trade agreements in the European Union : Commission autonomy and Member State control
Author: GASTINGER, Markus
Citation: Florence : European University Institute, 2014
Series/Number: EUI PhD theses; Department of Political and Social Sciences
Which issues does the Commission focus on in the negotiation of bilateral trade agreements? How (to what extent) autonomous is the Commission, which sources and causal mechanisms bring this autonomy to bear, and have these sources changed over time? Which is the most effective mechanism of control available to member states in the Council to rein in the Commission? These are the three interrelated questions addressed by this study. Concerning the first question, I find that the Commission focuses on inte-gration issues. These are primarily found in the joint bodies established by the underly-ing agreements as well as the number of substantive issues mentioned therein. On ques-tion number two, I find that the Commission distinctly shapes BTAs slightly over 50 per-cent of the time. The primary source of Commission autonomy in the 1970s and 1980s was asymmetric information, i.e. the Commission having greater knowledge about all contingencies in the negotiations than the member states. More recently, Commission autonomy is better captured by its agenda-setting power, here defined as its ability to put before the Council an agreement that member states can vote only either up-or-down. With regard to question three I find that, initially, member states’ credible threat of non-ratification provided the most effective backstop to the Commission running lose. Over time, member states have stepped up monitoring mechanisms to take control of negotiations earlier, making direct oversight the most important tool for Council control. I examine and expound this argument by adopting a Principal-Agent (PA) perspective and process-tracing methodology against the backdrop of six in-depth case studies se-lected in accordance with objective and replicable criteria, of which five are retained for the final analysis. In conclusion, I join the camp of scholars making the case for a significant independent causal influence of the Commission on European public policy out-comes.
Defence date: 18 November 2014; Examining Board: Prof. Adrienne Héritier, European University Institute (supervisor) Prof. Andreas Dür, University of Salzburg (co-supervisor) Prof. László Bruszt, European University Institute Prof. Eugénia da Conceição-Heldt, Dresden University of Technology
Type of Access: embargoedAccess