Amsterdam Centre for European Law and Governance

Participation in European Agencies: Keeping Promises in Institutional Practice

PhD defence ceremony Sara Pernuš

24June2016 12:00


On 24 June 2016, Sara Pernuš defends her doctoral thesis entitled 'Participation in European Agencies: Keeping Promises in Institutional Practice'. The event is open to the public.


Although both European agencies and participation in European governance are topics very much discussed in the academic literature, they have, so far, never been systematically researched together. Earlier studies on European agencies suggest that the agencies may be “breeding grounds and learning sites for state-of-the-art participatory practices that ultimately may be generalized across the wider spectrum of Union administration” (Curtin 2009), but these assumptions about the significance of participation in European agencies have not been supported empirically.

The aim of this research is to remedy this gap and provide a thorough analytical assessment of the extent and the manner to which European agencies have been successful in living up to the central promises of participation. In particular, in this book, the pertinence of involving interested parties, and the reason why some agencies were particularly keen on developing participatory structures even in the absence of legal provisions rests on the idea that participation may fulfill one or more of the following central promises: (i) ensure better and more informed agencies’ outcomes, (ii) promote inclusiveness and responsiveness of agencies’ operation, (iii) advance compliance and implementation, and (iv) enhance transparency and monitoring of agencies’ activities and help build trust. In line with these promises, the extent and impact of participation can be crucial to the agencies’ ability to perform efficiently, as well as to their credibility. But does participation in European agencies deliver the promises and hence contribute to effective policy-making and agency credibility or is it merely window-dressing and an end in itself? The promises of participation are thus an evaluative yardstick against which participation in European agencies is assessed.

The main contribution of this research is its innovative and interdisciplinary character treading so far unexplored paths. By examining agencies’ rules and practices of participation through empirical evidence (37 expert interviews with both interested parties and agencies’ officials), this study combines a legal and political science approach. The various participatory arrangements existing in the realm of European agencies are researched both de jure and de facto in order to determine empirically whether and how European agencies have lived up to the central promises of participation. Furthermore, this research also has a broader normative significance, as it provides a contextual evaluation of participation in European agencies and an assessment of whether “the agency model” is indeed well-suited for consolidating participation at the EU level.

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