A responsive technocracy?

A Responsive Technocracy? EU Politicisation and the Consumer Policies of the European Commission

Christian Rauh

This book challenges the common image of the European Commission as an insulated technocracy immune to political pressures.

Based on a combination of public opinion, protest and media data, it first demonstrates that European integration has become increasingly politicised since the 1990s. Against this growing politicisation, the Commission is now much more concerned about the public appeal of its policies. That, however, challenges and contradicts the well-worn patterns of supranational regulation in Europe.

The book systematically compares 17 legislative drafting processes in European consumer policy between 1999 and 2009. Based on first-hand insider accounts of involved officials, his comparative case study approach indicates that the Commission’s policy choices indeed become more consumer friendly under higher levels of public awareness. While this improves the democratic quality of European decision-making, the book also reveals an enhanced conflict potential within the Commission and beyond which threatens to undermine the efficiency of legislative decision-making in the EU.

'This excellent, innovative study moves beyond the analysis of causes and manifestations of EU politicisation. The author systematically investigates its effects on day-to-day policy making, focusing on the heart of the EU's machinery, the Commission. Demonstrating that even this least likely actor is affected carries important empirical and normative implications beyond the EU and the policy area under study. Rauh's book is essential reading for anyone interested in international politics and policy-making, and for every scholar who looks for an outstanding example of how to marry empirical richness with clear and compelling conclusions.' (Markus Haverland, Erasmus University Rotterdam)

'How does politicization of European issues affect public policy? Do elites now "look over their shoulders" and adapt policy, or do they provide more of the same? Christian Rauh critically examines this question for the most detached and technocratic player of all, the European Commission, and he shows convincingly that the European Commission listens and responds. A Responsive Technocracy breaks new ground on politicization and fundamentally challenges conventional views on EU governance. A must-read for policy makers and analysts alike.' (Liesbet Hooghe, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill)

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