RECON Online Working Paper 2009/19

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The Commission and its Principals

Delegation Theory on a Common European External Trade Policy in the WTO


Rachel Herp Tausendfreund (European University Viadrina Frankfurt)



Understanding the consequences, for states and citizens, of making policy on the EU level is central to the reception of the European project and questions of democracy in the EU. This analysis places EU policy-making, trade policy in particular, in the context of bureaucratic power literature and theory. The focus is on modelling this delegation in order to draw conclusions about the role of institutional structures and Commission agency in making trade policy. The underlying question is: what effects do the institutions of this delegation and the external effects of World Trade Organization (WTO) membership have on the Commission’s ability to shape policy, and what effect does that have on policy content? It is suggested that the institutions of trade policy delegation, and the collective principal in particular, both empower the Commission and bias policy against parochial interests. Furthermore, external pressure (in the form of the WTO), serves to increase possibilities for Commission influence.


Agency Theory – Common Commercial Policy – GATT – Interest Intermediation – International Trade – Multilevel Governance – Non-Majoritarian Institutions – Trade Policy

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