Policy Development (EU)

Once the political decision has been taken to pursue a specific policy or legislative objective, work on drafting a proposal begins within the relevant DG.

Most initial proposals are drafted by a middle-ranking 'A' grade civil servant, and is gradually passed upwards (being revised throughout) through the DG's hierarchy, to the commissioner's cabinet, to the weekly chefs de cabinet meeting, and finally to the commission itself. The commission has the power to accept, amend, reject, refer back or defer a decision on any proposal.

As is the case with policy development in the UK, this procedure is frequently diverged from, especially in respect of cross-departmental policies, and there are other arrangements for fast-tracking policy proposals.

The commission also has a wide network of advisory and expert committees at its disposal to inform policy-making.

Nonetheless, the commission has a bad reputation for working in a compartmentalised way, with its hierarchical structure preventing the development of horizontal links. The activism of the DGs, moreover, is heavily influenced by the energy of the leading commissioner, and collectively of the commission president.