Engaging ‘Knowledge Networks’: External Experts in EU Development Policy-Making

Friday, July 14, 2017
Forehall (University of Glasgow)
Sebastian Steingass , Department of Politics and International Studies, University of Cambridge
External experts, researchers and academics do not only follow and critically analyse European integration and EU policies but they also participate in shaping policy choices. They participate directly as individual advisors and consultants, in advocacy coalitions and networks, or indirectly by shaping the policy discourse. The European Commission, the European Parliament and individual EU member states all draw on external experts in the policy process to some extent despite their in-house capacities. External experts are understood in a broad sense to involve individual experts, research institutions, think tanks, and increasingly non-governmental organisations which have been enhancing their research capacity. Some scholars have argued that besides providing factual information, external experts play a role in creating consensual knowledge but also substantiating an actor’s policy position vis-à-vis other actors. This paper looks at three cases of EU policies which have aimed at creating an ‘all-EU’ dimension in development cooperation and analyses the role of external experts, in particular looking at interlinkages between the European and national policy arenas. The cases are i) joint programming, ii) the European results framework, and iii) the revision of the European Consensus on Development. The paper traces how EU actors, especially the Commission, have engaged external actors in the policy process and how experts have reacted to these demands, especially against the background of overlapping and at times competing demands on the member state level. This also provides insights into engaging external expertise during the revision of the ACP-EU relationship post-Cotonou.