Institutional change and continuity in the European Union: the super-commissioner saga
Title: Institutional change and continuity in the European Union: the super-commissioner saga
Citation: Acta politica, 2014, Vol. 49, pp. 174–195
ISSN: 0001-6810; 1741-1416
We analyse the politics surrounding the proposal to create a super-commissioner with exclusive powers to veto national budgets in the European Union (EU). According to liberal institutionalism and liberal inter-governmentalism, there should be no need for a super-commissioner to enforce inter-governmental agreements, because the European Commission (the Commission) is already doing this. So, is the super-commissioner superfluous, or is the theory wrong? To answer this question, we build an analytic narrative aimed at clarifying who wanted what and why, and at explaining how a relatively small coalition of northern creditor-nation governments almost succeeded in amending the EU’s core constitutional principle of executive-level collegiality by threatening to select an altogether different institution. Our findings bear significance not only for current policy debates, but also for our appreciation of the institutional equilibria that sustain the EU, and on the theory of institutional change in international organizations.
Grant number: FP7/263277/EU
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