Tuesday 20 April 2010

Comitology: Some recent scientific insights (updated)

After my recent posts on "Comitology 2.0" and on "Public access to EU documents" I found it worthwhile to continue my research into that direction for a moment.

One of the things I came across and the first thing you might want to read is the 2008 European Law Journal article "How Transparent are EU ‘Comitology’ Committees in Practice?" by Gijs Jan Brandsma, Deirdre Curtin and Albert Meijer who include in their text a nice and concise history of the comitology system.

What they find in their analysis of the documents available in the Comitology Register in 2005 is that only "67% of the summary records were available through the register". More seriously, only "5.5% of the draft measures [those passed by the committees, JF] were available through the online register", keeping in mind that these "draft measures are the most important result of the committees" (p. 836).

Now, this is just a small dose of comitology. If you want the full dose of comitology, you can also read the 2010 PhD thesis by Gijs Jan Brandsma that is titled "Backstage Europe: comitology, accountability and democracy in the European Union". Since the comitology is to be reformed under the Lisbon Treaty, this might well be one of the last research projects done while the old system was still in place.

And since this thesis looks really promising, I think I'll dig right into it now...

Update: Having now read the first two chapters of Brandsma's dissertation, I'd like to say that this (especially chapter 2) is pretty much what anybody should read before talking about comitology or before discussing its reform. This is brilliant academic writing, easy to read even if you are not a political scientist and brief enough for a quick overview in case you need to prepare for an informed discussion, both in an academic as well as in a political context. Impressive!

Picture: © chivacongelado / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0