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Salience and Complexity in Supranational Policymaking: The Case of Subnational Interests



This study examined whether Gormley's insights about the effects of public salience and technical complexity on the patterns of participation in the regulatory process have explanatory power in an international setting. Specifically, I tracked 60 legislative proposals initiated by the European Commission and estimated the change made by the supranational technocrats in response to the requests of subnational politicians. I found support for the theoretical propositions about the differentiated effect of salience and complexity on political and administrative actors. Consistent with the notion of bureaucratic expertise, the Commission is less responsive when the policy issues require expertise to be tackled efficiently. Although the European Union has been pursuing various mechanisms to democratize its policy process, the technical character of supranational regulation precludes the broader public and elected politicians from assuming a larger role and bureaucracy will continue to be a major player in the international arena.