The power of expertise: Gauging technocracy in EMU reform negotiations

Pier Domenico Tortola*, Silvana Tarlea

*Corresponding author for this work

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    Is the European Union a technocracy? Observers and practitioners of EU politics have debated this deceptively simple question for decades, without arriving at a clear answer. To a large extent, this is due to the elusive nature of technocracy itself, a phenomenon that is hard to define with precision, and even harder to measure empirically. To tackle this problem, the article presents a novel approach to technocracy in the EU based on the study of bargaining settings, in which political and technical actors interact horizontally and simultaneously—as opposed to sequentially—thus allowing for a better appraisal of the power of experts. Using data gathered by the ‘EMU Choices’ project, we apply this alternative framework to the analysis of negotiations on the reform of the Economic and Monetary Union over the period 2010–15, focusing on the role of two institutional actors: the European Central Bank and the European Commission. While we find some evidence for technocracy in EMU negotiations, this has been mostly at the hands of the hybrid Commission rather than the quintessentially technical ECB. This suggests both caution in dismissing the EU as hopelessly technocratic, and the need for further research on the nature of the Commission.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1950-1972
    Number of pages23
    JournalJournal of European Public Policy
    Issue number12
    Early online date4-Sep-2020
    Publication statusPublished - 2021

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