IPSA 23rd Congress of Political Science edition:23 location:Montreal, Canada date:19-24 July 2014
Scholarly attention on political advisers has grown steadily in recent years. Research has focused on advisers’ profiles, policy making roles, issues of accountability, as well as on their role as the third prominent party in the politics administration interface. While empirical research on national administrative systems, especially Westminster ones, has increased, we know less on those individual agents in ministerial cabinet systems, and very little in supranational administrations, especially the EU. The aim of the proposed paper is to investigate the policy making roles of advisers in European Commissioners’ cabinets. Who are those actors and what do they do? Are they a case of agents active in a politicised policy advisory system, such as the ones found in ministerial cabinets or is their involvement in the policy process more in line with the sui generis European Commission politico-administrative context? To answer those questions we put forward a comparative study design and a mixed data collection method, using both a survey questionnaire and interviews. The study shows that the EC cabinet system shares important similarities, but also differences with national ministerial cabinet systems. EC cabinets work as ‘professional offices’ in a supranational politico-administrative setting that is significantly less politicised and conflictual than in national ministerial cabinet systems. EC advisers appear to be politically aware experts, though not necessarily specialists, who indulge both in the technical, as well as the steering side of policy, while their policy advice activities have a strong horizontal, intra-executive, but also governance dimension.
The paper is based on the first initial wave of collected data