INCOOP - Dynamics of Institutional Cooperation in the European Union
The study investigates the role of scientific expertise in European risk regulation. In particular, it challenges the assumption that EU regulatory agencies act as functional problem-solvers contributing to EU decision-making in policy areas such as food safety, disease prevention, medicines, etc. The inclusion of non-majoritarian risk assessors in the EU regulatory processes is often considered to offer policy outputs that are based on technical and scientific knowledge coming from so called independent expertise bodies. However, some scholars suggest that independent regulatory bodies can act not only as functional problem-solvers, but also engage in strategic or symbolic behaviour when providing expert advice to EU institutions. Against this background, the study addresses the question when and under what conditions regulatory agencies apply different strategies of expertise usage.
The study develops a theoretical explanation by streamlining and combining the main arguments from organizational and institutional theories. To test the hypotheses derived from this framework, the study focuses on one EU regulatory agency — the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) — to explain different forms of expertise usage. A comparative analysis was conducted across four food policy issues. The empirical analysis combines a variety of data sources including official documents, press releases, scientific outputs produced by European Food Safety Authority, and 31 semi-structured interviews with academic, industry, national agency experts involved in the process.
The preliminary findings suggest that different combinations of formal and informal pressure from the organization’s environment and varying degrees of EFSA’s internal capacity trigger different organisational responses regarding the use of expertise.