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Policy Formulation in the EU (Public Administration Specialisation)



Where do the ideas for EU policies come from? Who dominates the preparation of EU policies? What is the role of interests and knowledge in policy formulation? In this research-oriented seminar, we examine these and other questions related to the formulation of policies at the European level. We first look at the key role of the European Commission as the initator of EU policies and discuss how policy formulation is organized in the Commission. We then discuss how and to what extent other actors – interest groups, academic experts, and member state governments and administrations – influence the formulation of EU-level policies. We look closely at some of the channels of influence, including both formal venues such as Commission expert groups and more informal contacts.

In the seminar, we address these issues by surveying and discussing critically recent literature on EU policy formulation as well as general theoretical literature on the role of bureaucrats, interest groups and experts in policy making. These discussions serve as a springboard for the students to carry out their own research. Under the supervision of the instructor, each student undertakes independent research on one of the issues raised, presents the work for discussion in the seminar and completes a draft article by the end of the course.

Course objectives

By the end of the course, students will be able to:
1. Summarize, evaluate and criticize academic research on EU policy making.
2. Contrast and combine theoretical perspectives in the analysis of policy formulation.
3. Design and carry out independent research.

Method of instruction

The course is organized as a research seminar with close interaction between the instructor and the students. Instead of traditional lectures, the instructor will guide a discussion about the substantive and theoretical issues raised in the readings and in the students’ own research. Active participation is therefore essential. In the first part of the course, we will discuss existing theoretical and empirical literature in the field. For each seminar, students must submit a brief memo (1-2 pages) with reflections, thoughts and questions about the week’s readings. In the second part of the course, students present their own research in progress for discussion in the group.

Assessment method

  1. The memos prepared for each week’s seminar (total 40 % of final grade).
    1. The draft article produced by the end of the course (60 % of final grade).




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