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'The European Commission: Where now? Where next?' Launch of research briefings

UEA’s Professor Hussein Kassim, PPL, and Professor Sara Connolly, NBS, launched a series of research briefings this week based on their recent study of the European Commission. The briefings cover topics ranging from how staff viewed the structural and procedural changes introduced in 2014 that heralded the ‘political Commission’, to an analysis of the evolution of the Commission Presidency, discussion of whether the Commission is ‘an administration of lawyers’ or populated by ‘federalists and neoliberals’, and a comparison of the different pathways taken by EU nationals into the organisation.

‘The European Commission: Where now? Where next?’ is the third study of the Commission to be conducted by the team, follow earlier projects in 2008 and 2014, and the fourth in total. (A 2016 project looked at the Council Secretariat). On each occasion, the research has investigated how staff view recent developments, but also broader themes relating to the organisation concerned, its internal operation, and the people who work for it. Testing accepted wisdoms about the EU administration and EU civil servants that are widespread among the public as well as present in the academic literature is also a concern.

A key feature of the studies is the research model. Each draws on original data collected by the team from responses to an online survey administered across the whole organisation, more than 200 interviews with staff at different levels, and targeted focus groups. With datasets covering three Commission, it is possible to assess how leadership, coordination, and communication within the institution, and the profile and attitudes of its staff, have changed over time, and also to examine long-term processes such as socialisation.

The multi-disciplinary, multi-institutional team includes Professor Brigid Laffan, Director of the Robert Schuman Centre at the EUI, President of the EUI Professor Renaud Dehousse, Professor Michael W. Bauer, German University of Administrative Science Speyer, Dr Pierre Bocquillon UEA, and Professor Andrew Thompson, University of Edinburgh. Research assistants included Dr Vanessa Buth, Dr Nick Wright, Dr Thomas Warren, UEA, Pierre Alayrac, ENS, Mr Martin Weinrich, Ms Louisa Bayerlein, EUI, Dr Kristina Ophey, University of Cologne, and Josefine Lynggaard, UEA. The study was carried out with full academic independence and funded by UEA, the EUI and the German University of Administrative Science Speyer.

'The State of the Union after the Juncker years', EUI in Brussels event, 10 October 2019

Professor Hussein Kassim presents overview findings from 'The European Commission: Where now? Where next?' at a joint EUI, SciencesPo and EP event at the European Parliament, Brussels. Discussants include: Ilze Juhansone, acting Secretary General of the European Commission, Jim Cloos, Deputy Director General, Council Secretariat, and Maria José Martínez Iglesias, Director, Legal Service of the European Parliament. Keynote speaker: Klaus Welle, Secretary General of the European Parliament. Programme here.