Executive Governance and Inter-Institutional Relations
Over the past decades, the European Union (EU) has changed as a political system, not least in executive governance and inter-institutional relations. First, the EU has battled a series of crises and governance challenges; striving for fast and efficient political and policy responses, the Union balances democratic and technocratic decision-making. Second, the Union tackles short-term, medium-term, and long-term challenges as a dynamic “governance lab”; aiming to address their demands and reach out to citizens, stakeholders, and established policy networks, the EU uses a broad and ever-changing set of strategies and instruments that build reputation, legitimacy, and power. Third, the Union is responsive to growing levels of contestation across its member states; such responsiveness ranges from new forms of agenda-setting over the use of diverse and novel governance instruments to public communication. Finally, all these developments play out in a context that combines increasing politicisation with enhanced transparency and the need to accommodate growing diversity—across policy challenges and levels of governance; Europe’s citizens, societies, and economies; and in the EU’s institutions and agencies.
Our section specifically focuses on the following questions.
1) Agenda-setting. Has agenda-setting changed over the past decades across the EU’s institutions and shifted to executive agencies? If so, which institutions and agencies have been empowered or weakened through such shifts? Are new types of agenda-setting, for instance, the European Citizens’ Initiative, policy consultations, and stakeholder feedback, successful?
2) Decision-making. Has domestic contestation of ‘Europe’ challenged supranational actors’ willingness and ability to reach consensus and to compromise? How has the consensus-oriented Council of the EU developed? Do new forms of decision-making impact on the EU’s legitimacy, problem-solving capacity, and executive leadership?
3) Big data and evidence. In how far can greater access to data and evidence as well as large-n research design and advanced quantitative methods deepen our understanding of executive governance and inter-institutional relations and facilitate theory-building?
4) Democratising the ‘regulatory state’. Does increased public information, stakeholder engagement, and transparency about decision-making shape new inter-institutional dynamics and executive leadership, in particular on dimensions of policy-making, the generation of outcomes, and the public perception of legitimate governance?
5) Responsiveness. How do EU agencies, banks, and courts act under political pressure? How and why do EU institutions and political processes respond to bottom-up politicisation? Is public communication becoming part of everyday decision-making? Where and how does responsiveness happen—domestically, at the supranational level, or globally, and is it driven or prevented by political parties?
6) Conceptualisation. Executive governance and inter-institutional relations have been studied empirically and theoretically over time, but we still lack an in-depth conceptualisation that draws on wider political and legal theory and asks about the changing long-term development of the EU as a political system. We invite contributions that help address this gap.
We welcome panels and papers that address any of these questions, and in particular those that are interdisciplinary; focus on conceptualisation, measurement, theory-testing and theory-building; and use a plurality of approaches to research design.