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The Engines of European IntegrationDelegation, Agency, and Agenda Setting in the EU$
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Mark A. Pollack

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9780199251179

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/0199251177.001.0001

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Delegation, Agency, and Agenda Setting in the European Union

Delegation, Agency, and Agenda Setting in the European Union

(p.19) Chapter 1 Delegation, Agency, and Agenda Setting in the European Union
The Engines of European Integration

Mark A. Pollack (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

Principal‐agent theories of delegation generate specific, testable hypotheses about delegation to supranational organizations in the European Union, including: the specific functions delegated to such agents; the conditions under which member‐state principals delegate greater or lesser discretion to their agents; and the conditions under which supranational organizations such as the Commission are able to pursue their distinct preferences, within the limits of their statutory discretion. Such principal‐agent analyses, drawn from rational choice theory and transaction‐costs approaches, represent a parsimonious and internally consistent approach to the study of delegation; however, a competing approach, derived from sociological institutionalism, generates strikingly different predictions. This book examines both the delegation stage (at which member‐state principals create supranational organizations, delegate powers to them and establish control mechanisms to limit their discretion) and the subsequent behaviour of supranational agents in the day‐to‐day conduct of their executive, judicial and legislative powers. Although causally related, these two stages raise very different methodological challenges, and thus the two parts of the book utilize distinct research designs and methods to answer the questions posed in each.

Keywords:   agenda setting, delegation, discretion, European Union, principal‐agent model, rational choice theory, sociological institutionalism, supranational organizations, transaction costs

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