Bureaucracy and Democracy: Intra-Parliamentary Delegation in European Union Affairs


Recent literature notes that national parliaments’ growing relevance in European Union (EU) affairs might have led to the empowerment of legislative bureaucrats rather than elected politicians, an argument that we may label the “bureaucratisation thesis”. This paper suggests that a delegation approach is most suitable for studying the democratic relevance of legislative bureaucracy in EU affairs. From a delegation perspective, however, parliamentary political-administrative relations are likely to work effectively instead of creating democratic deficits. According to this “delegation thesis”, parliamentarians are likely to restrict the bureaucratic domain, refrain from delegating exclusive competences, delegate selectively to party group officials and, thus, constrain bureaucratic opportunities to influence policy to positive agenda-shaping. An exploratory analysis of agenda-setting in EU affairs in the German parliament provides tentative support for these arguments.

Journal of European Integration
Thomas Winzen
Thomas Winzen
Political Scientist

Political scientist interested in institutions and legitimate governance