This article presents a preliminary analysis of how and why the role, work and status of the European Commission are changing in an enlarged European Union. It does so by focusing on multiple sources of pressure for change. These include: enlargement, new modes of governance, administrative reforms and changed leadership under Barroso. Combined, though not interlinked, these multiple sources of pressure are evidence of the increasing difficulty for the Commission to design and propose Community-wide answers to complex challenges in a more diverse Union. For this reason, the Commission under Barroso relies less on its traditional monopoly power to propose formal legislation and more on non-traditional modes of policy-making. Energy policy, especially its external dimension, constitutes a policy field that has been affected by enlargement, i.e. characterised by an increasing heterogeneity of needs and preferences among the member states. Not only does it resists Community-wide answers, it also allows the Commission, as an agent, to make use of bureaucratic drifts, i.e. exploit its strategic position in the EU’s governance system and use of a range of formal and informal resources of expertise. To deliver sustainable European added value to this complex policy area, however, the Commission must focus more on pragmatic policy results by making smart use of the EU’s increasing asymmetry, diversity and subsidiarity in a bottom-up approach. A non-legislative approach can serve as a modus vivendi to keep the momentum going in the Union’s difficult struggle to establish a workable energy regime.
Commission; Enlargement; external energy policy
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