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Panel 415: Knowledge Governance and the Role of Experts in the EU
10:50am - 12:20pm
Session Chair: Kristin Edquist, Eastern Washington University
The European Parliamentary Research Service and the Reauthorisation of Glyphosate Use within the EU
University of Portsmouth, United Kingdom
In the context of increasing contestation over the objectivity of expertise within political discourses, legislatures face extra challenges when they source, channel and produce expertise for policy-making purposes. One of the key legislative adaptation strategies to this is the creation of in-house research services, and this was realised within the European Parliament (EP) through setting up the European Parliamentary Research Service (EPRS).
This paper examines how the work of the EPRS was perceived by the producers as well as the end users of EPRS-sourced/produced expertise in a context of EP proceedings concerning the use and authorisation of glyphosate, a commonly used pesticide. As these proceedings represent a situation where the flow and supply of expertise is crucial for a highly politicised legislative process, but at the same time, there is a lack of epistemic consensus about the subject matter under discussion, the paper provides an insight into the ability of the EPRS to assist the EP in its need for expertise in a challenging context. Furthermore, given the creation of a specialised pesticide licensing committee as the subsequent result of glyphosate-related processes in the EP, the paper also provides an insight concerning legislative adaptation due to expertise needs in general.
To explore these matters, the paper builds on qualitative methods (for example, by interviewing members of the EP and EP/EPRS staff as well as document analysis), complemented with the assessment of EPRS data sets and utilisation patterns of the expertise processed and produced by the EPRS concerning glyphosate-related proceedings.
Exploring the Significance of Epistemic Communities in Multi-Level Governance Arrangements
Owen Alexander Marmion Williams
Swansea University, United Kingdom
This study hypotheses that experts (conceptualised using the epistemic communities framework) significantly contribute to the initiation and prevalence of multi-level forms of governance.
Furthermore, it is suggested that epistemic communities can enhance policy legitimation within multi-level governance (MLG) systems by encouraging participatory forms of governance and subsidiarity, particularly in cases of divergent policy preferences between two identity groupings.
A comparative case study approach, employing a ‘most-similar’ cases model, is utilised to investigate these hypotheses. Extensive semi-structured interviews with a range of key participants, supported by process tracing methods, are conducted and preliminary results from these will be discussed. The case study areas concern recent cultural heritage legislation within the subnational regions of Wales in the United Kingdom and Québec in Canada respectively.
This work is intended to contribute to the epistemic communities and MLG literatures by demonstrating a mutually-reinforcing relationship that postulates epistemic communities as a potential evolutionary driver of MLG. This work also intends to extend the former concept into new public policy fields by redefining expertise.
Practically, this study hopes to inform contemporary debates on the role and value of experts in public policymaking, especially at the European level. Demonstrating the potential for deeper consequences of expert engagement in the policy process via the establishment and maintenance of governance arrangements would be significant. The possibility that experts may contribute to the greater dispersal of political authority and the widening of participatory opportunities offers powerful normative and political arguments in favour of the vital nature of their role.
The Commission, Wise Men and the Single Market: Investigating the uses of Ad Hoc Expert Groups over Time
University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom
The Commission’s use of ad-hoc, independent expert groups and their reports, the so-called “Wise men reports”, has been a regular feature of the organization’s actions going back to the 1960s, with the areas of Economic and monetary union and reforms to European institutional structure being the most common topic. However, the impact of these reports on political and policy output is not always clear and many ideas and recommendations have not been put in place – in 1980, Leo Tindemans, former Prime Minister of Belgium, spoke of “a library of forgotten reports”. Yet the Commission has continued to call upon these independent experts to produce reports.
Starting in the second half of the 1980s, the paper explores the motivations inside the European Commission for calling upon ad hoc expert groups over time and in relation to the Single Market. It covers three periods in which the Commission called upon these expert groups: introduction of the Single Market (1987-1989), introduction of the euro and pre-enlargement (2000-2003) and post global financial crisis (2009-2012). The study includes nine reports, starting with the Padoa-Schioppa Report on a strategy for the evolution of the Economic System of the European Union in 1988 to the Liikanen Report on Banking regulation in 2012. The paper builds on the research developed as a result of a funded visit to the Historical Archives of the European Union (HAEU) awarded by UACES in 2018. It combines a historical approach and a framework for observing different organizational motivations. This framework encompasses criteria that enable the observation of power maximization motives in calling upon these exert groups (the Commission is concerned with increasing their power and influence vis a vis other institutions or the member states); of instrumental motives (the Commission is concerned with fulfilling its mandate and gathering expertise to adjust policy output); and of legitimacy motives (mirroring norms and expectations in their environments and valuing expertise for symbolic purposes). This combination enables an investigation of the Commission’s motivations for using these groups and these expert reports over time. One the one hand it captures the specific political and policy context for each of the periods in which these reports were produced. And on the other, it enables an investigation of continuities in the practices and features of the expert groups and their evolution over time.