Unboxing Technocracy in the European Parliament: The Case of the Deve Committee

Friday, July 14, 2017
Court/Senate (University of Glasgow)
Alexandra Athanasopoulou Köpping , Global and European Studies Institute, Leipzig University
Harald Köpping Athanasopoulos , EU-Asia Institute, ESSCA
There is a tendency in the International Political Economy literature on European intergration to shed insufficient light on aspects of the EU's neoliberal transformation. The aim of this paper is to unbox one such concept, namely technocracy, by showing how it was introduced and operates in practice. The term technocracy has been employed to describe governance on the basis of technical knowledge rather than ethical or political convictions. Since the mid-1990s, technocracy has arguably become the dominant form of governance in the European institutions. To provide a practical example of the application of technocracy, we have examined all own-initiative reports of the European Parliament's committee on development and cooperation (DEVE) from 1979 to 2009. We have chosen the European Parliament because the relative high turnover of its members makes it the least likely institution to become susceptible to technocracy. The DEVE committee in turn was selection, because it has always been one of the Parliament's committees and because it has always been dominated by the same leftist political forces: subtle changes in its modus operandi should thus be particularly visible. The DEVE committee could thus be seen as a microcosm of European governance. A frame analysis of the DEVE committee's own initiative reports reveals that between 1979 and 1994 there was an emphasis that development should be achieved by tackling structural inequality and strengthening social justice. Between 1994 and 2009 these frames became characteristically technocratic, emphasising on measurability and efficiency.
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