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From Intergovernmental Bargaining to Deliberative Political Processes: The Constitutionalisation of Comitology


  • Christian Joerges,

  • Jürgen Neyer

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    • Christian Joerges, Centre for European Law and Politics, Bremen/European University Institute, Florence and Jürgen Neyer, Centre for European Law and Politics, Bremen. This study forms a part of a project on Comitology, located in Bremen at the Centre for European Law and Politics, and sponsored by the Volkswagen-Stiftung. We would like to thank Andreas Bücker, Michelle Everson, Josef Falke, Peter Hall. Fritz W. Scharpf. Sabine Schlacke and Ellen Vos for their invaluable help and advice. The usual disclaimer applies, the authors being jointly responsible for any errors in this article. Readers should also note, Joerges/Neyer. ‘Transforming strategic interaction into deliberative problem-solving: European Comitology in the foodstuffs sector’, forthcoming in a special edition of JEPP, edited by Fritz W. Scharpf, containing a similar analysis with a greater emphasis on political science methodology.


Abstract: This article argues that the irresistible rise of Comitology is an institutional response to the deep-seated tensions between the dual supranational and intergovernmentalist structure of the Community on the one hand, and its problem-solving tasks on the other. Comitology has accordingly provided a forum in which problems are addressed through evolving and novel processes of interest formation and decision-making. However, neither legal nor political science have been able properly to evaluate the workings of the committee system, both disciplines remaining trapped within normative structures and traditional methodologies ill-suited to the analysis of these institutional innovations. As a consequence, this article advocates the trans-disciplinary study of Comitology, and furthermore argues that the two disciplines might be drawn together by the concept of ‘deliberative supranationalism’: being on the one hand a normative approach which seeks both to preserve the legitimacy of national democracies and to set limits upon the traditional Nation State within a supranational community; and on the other, a theoretical tool which is nonetheless responsive to and accomodating of ‘real-world’ phenomena.