Delegation, Agency and Agenda Setting in the Treaty of Amsterdam
European Integration online Papers (EIoP), Vol. 3, No. 6, April 29, 1999
20 Pages Posted: 11 Mar 2002
This paper applies a principal-agent model of delegation, agency and agenda setting to the 1996 intergovernmental conference and the Treaty of Amsterdam, in order to understand both the delegation of powers to supranational organizations in the new Treaty, and the efforts of such organizations to set the agenda for the conference. At Amsterdam, the member governments of the European Union delegated new powers to the Commission, the Court of Justice, and especially the European Parliament; these new powers, however, are carefully hedged with elaborate mechanisms to control, if not eliminate, supranational autonomy in the future. In the intergovernmental conference, moreover, the EU?s supranational organizations attempted to influence the outcome of the negotiations as informal agenda setters, but they were limited in their ability to do so by the information-rich content of the IGC. However, while the influence of the Commission, Court and Parliament was indeed limited in the intergovernmental conference and at Amsterdam, we should beware of generalizing from IGCs to the day-to-day workings of EU politics, where the powers of the supranational organizations are far greater than in any intergovernmental conference.
Keywords: European integration, agency theory, agenda-setting, comitology, European Commission, European Court of Justice, European Parliament, IGC 1996, institutionalism, Amsterdam Treaty, political science
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