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Executive power is at the core of managing and planning and enforcement with a prioritization of evidence-based decision-making within or to the (political) executive. It is certainly too early to evaluate the scope and intensity of pandemic executive power but Professor Curtin's hypothesis is that core state powers are distinctive in twenty-first century ‘emergencies’ (national security, economic and monetary policy, health policy, refugee policy). ). This is arguably a different context to earlier studies of executive expertise/technocracy and the regulatory state.

Event details of Seeing Power: EU Executive Technocracy in Crisis
Date 29 March 2021
Time 15:30 -17:00


The lecture will zoom in on three distinct levels of supranational expert involvement during the pandemic using the prism of transparency as a tool. Traditionally getting access to what happens inside technocracies and the role of experts in that context is a real challenge if not impossible. With EU transparency policies that evolve and strengthen through institutional pro-activity after some nudging (for example, the European Medicines Agency and now very recently also the ECDC) is it possible to study them empirically to determine their legitimacy and also to shed light on their actual role in practice? Seeing transparency in action requires precisely a more empirical, possibly sociological, turn in terms of methods and European law and governance seem to offer us the tools. Can we see what is happening within the black box of EU governance related to the pandemic? Is transparency a tool that is meaningful in this context? Does it go further during pandemic related responses and do new challenges become visible? What does this tell us already in terms of accountability of executive technocracy both at the European and at the national level?


Deirdre Curtin is Joint Chair Professor of European Union Law at the Department of Law and Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies, European University Institute (Florence, Italy) since September 2015.

Prior to joining the EUI, Prof. Curtin held the Chair in European Law and Governance at the University of Amsterdam where she was also the founding Director of the Amsterdam Centre of European Law and Governance (2008-2016). Earlier, she held the Chair in European and International Governance at the Utrecht School of Governance of the University of Utrecht (2003-2013) and the Chair in the Law of International Organizations at the Faculty of Law of the University of Utrecht (1992-2002).