Tensions of Governance in the European Commission
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Abstract This article analyses tensions of governance within the core-executive of the European Union – the Commission. The applied test-bed is seconded national civil servants (SNEs) hired on short-term contracts in the Commission. The analysis benefits from a rich body of surveys and interview data among current and former SNEs. The data demonstrate that the decision-making behaviour evoked by SNEs contains a mix of departmental, epistemic and supranational behaviour. Intergovernmental dynamics are shown to be much less significant. The study also demonstrates that the secondment system scarcely creates enduring supranational loyalties among SNEs. The socialising powers of the Commission is conditional and only partly sustained when SNEs exit the Commission. The temporal identity of SNEs as an ‘EU civil servant’ is dependent on their primary institutional embeddedness within the Commission. Theoretically, tensions of governance in the Commission are accounted for by an institutionalist approach.
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