Executive Power and Political Accountability: Assessing the European Union’s Experience

EU3D Research Papers, No. 7, June 2021 (SSRN)

Sergio Fabbrini

Abstract

The research paper investigates the political accountability of the EU’s executive power, distinguishing between institutional and electoral patterns. It discusses the main integration theories, showing their analytical unilateralism in identifying the EU’s executive power and in conceptualizing its accountability patterns. Then, it analyses the executive power’s accountability in democratic federal systems, comparing coming together federations, where executive power’s political accountability is institutional, with holding together federations, where executive power’s political accountability is electoral.  The research paper investigates the EU executive power, focusing on two basic decision-making regimes (supranational and intergovernmental) to deal with different policy areas. Using the comparative federalism’s perspective, the research paper argues that the executive power’s accountability is institutional in the supranational regime (although it manages issues of low political salience), it is neither institutional nor electoral in the intergovernmental regime (which manages issues of high political salience). The EU’s decision-making structure is not only differentiated (as in none of the current federations), but this differentiation disincentives the executive power’s accountability in crucial policies’ realms.

Keywords

EU Executive Power, Political Accountability, European Council, European Commission, Federations, Differentiated Decision-Making

By Sergio Fabbrini
Published June 8, 2021 11:22 AM - Last modified June 8, 2021 11:22 AM