The European Parliament has recently joined the European Commission in monitoring the activities of the European Union’s sprawling army of regulatory agencies. While we may welcome that elected representatives increasingly assume the role of agency watchdogs, we know little about the factors that drive parliamentarians’ use of their oversight powers. Drawing on original data from the European Parliament’s past term, Nuria Font and Ixchel Pérez Durán find that MEPs from national opposition parties are more likely to ask questions about regulatory agencies than their colleagues from governing parties. Read their article “The European Parliament oversight of EU agencies through written questions” published in the Journal of European Public Policy to learn how some members of the European Parliament use their oversight powers to make up for their information disadvantages.
While the European Commission conducts the EU’s bilateral trade negotiations, its room for manoeuvre is circumscribed by the Council. Analysing a series of EU-India trade agreements, Markus Gastinger argues that until the early 1990s the Commission had been able to acquire an information advantage vis-à-vis the Council during informal pre-negotiation phases, which enabled the Commission to move the substance of the ensuing official negotiations closer to its own preferences. Read his article “The tables have turned on the European Commission: the changing nature of the pre-negotiation phase in EU bilateral trade agreements” published in the Journal of European Public Policy to learn how EU member states have subsequently dried up the Commission’s access to exclusive information by shifting the institutional arenas for pre-negotiations. Have a look at Markus’s homepage and see what else his research has in store here.