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This book examines the position and role of expertise in European policy-making and governance. At a time when the very notion of expertise and expert advice is increasingly losing authority, the book addresses these challenges by empirically examining specific administrative processes and institutional designs in the European Union. The first part of the volume theorizes expertise and its contestation by examining accounts of the legitimate institutional design of knowledge production processes and exploring the theoretical links of Europeanisation and expertise. The second part of the book delves into empirical institutionalist accounts of expertise and maps the role of experts in a variety of EU institutions but also explains the implications when EU bodies themselves are in an ‘expert’ position, such as agencies. The book offers insights into how individual experts deal with the challenge of producing reports that will be heard by policy-makers, while at the same time preserving their independence. Broadening its scope, the book then expands the analysis to the role of advisory committees in light of the shift from a reliance primarily on in-house expertise to including more external experts in advisory groups in the European Commission and European Parliament as well as at the European External Action. In the third part, the book opens the lens to developments beyond the EU by taking into account two highly pertinent fields: climate change and trade. These fields are highly complex, fast-developing, and politicised issues, and the book engages with them in order to provide an outside-in perspective on expertise.



Chapter 1. Introduction

The Role of Scientific Expertise in EU Policy-Making: Ever Greater Contestation?
This introductory chapter presents the main purpose of the book and sets out the framework through which contestation of expertise is analysed. We explain the need for an institutional approach to understand the growing contestation of expertise, its implications for policy-making and the legal order, as well as potential ways forward. The chapter defends that we need to understand not only the processes and actors in the expertise arena, but rather we also need to focus on the factors and institutional setting that drive such contestation and map its implications. Contestation of expertise is a particular challenge for the European Union and its fragile reliance on multiple channels of legitimation. This introductory chapter lays out the dilemma for the EU and the existential threat of contestation: without recourse to expertise as a basis for policy-making, the EU would be ill-equipped to face the potentially centrifugal tendencies of polarised public opinion or incommensurable policy-preferences. The chapter sets out the ground for the substantive chapters and outlines their main content.
Vigjilenca Abazi, Johan Adriaensen, Thomas Christiansen

Chapter 2. Conceptualising the Role of Expertise in EU Policy-Making

As the introduction to this multidisciplinary volume explains, its different chapters stand out from the existing literature by focusing on the contestation of expertise in the processes of EU decision-making, this chapter contributes to this effort by providing a sort of meta-contestation of expertise in the EU. It seeks to demonstrate that ‘expertise’ is not only contested ‘out there’ in the world of policy-making, but also at the conceptual-analytical level of scholarly research in a number of ways. Even if we limit ourselves to the behavioral sciences (understood broadly), we can identify at least four established fields of academic research beyond political science with an articulate interest in the nature of experts and expertise: first, the sociology of science and technology as it has crystallized in Science and Technology Studies (STS); second, cognitive psychology/cognitive science; third, behavioral psychology, more specifically the field of decision-making research, and last but not least socio-psychological research on expert groups. This chapter will take the form of a diptych. It starts with identifying the different conceptual and theoretical dilemmas that give rise to divergent approaches and findings. As such it will provide an overview of their mutual incongruities. Against this background, it will then be asked how to make use of these diverging and sometimes contradictory insights in a manner that is still coherent and systematic. Attempting to answer this question, the second half of this chapter will outline the basic tenets of an information-processing approach to experts and expertise that may support a ‘controlled eclecticism’.
Tannelie Blom

Chapter 3. The Europeanization of National Knowledge Regimes

Decision-making in the European Union is often characterized as technocratic and depoliticized. But has European integration also increased the role of experts and expertise in national policy-making? The chapter addresses this issue by developing a theoretical argument about the interaction between the ‘knowledge regimes’ at the European and national levels. It argues that national institutions for the provision of knowledge and advice may adapt to the knowledge architecture at the EU level, through pressure from EU-level institutions, imitation and expert networks. Yet, there are also mechanisms that work towards continued variation, such as institutional complementarities and path dependence. The chapter discusses mechanisms of adaptation or continued divergence within four institutional sites: expert agencies; advisory bodies and consultation mechanisms; parliamentary expertise; and research and education policy and institutions.
Johan Christensen, Cathrine Holst

Chapter 4. Winning Hearts, Losing Minds: Politicisation and the Contestation of Expertise in the Context of TTIP Negotiations

Expertise in policymaking can have multiple functions: gaining access to policymakers, increasing the legitimacy of an actor or policy, or informing the broader public about an issue. Lobbying groups can provide policymakers with expertise in exchange for access, or they can politicise an issue by making their message appeal to their members and the public. This chapter examines the latter of these choices—namely, how politicising an issue affects how NGOs and other actors contest expertise in the policy process. We examine the case of TTIP, where NGOs’ use of outside strategies to create politicisation and gain public support lost them legitimacy in the eyes of Commission and business groups. However, certain NGOs were also granted more access to the policymaking process. This indicates that while politicisation can make contestation more polarised, it may also lead to effects whereby more moderate groups are given access and a platform for their claims. Politicisation and expertise-based lobbying may therefore be seen as complements rather than a trade-off.
Francesca Colli, Bart Kerremans

Chapter 5. The European Commission’s Expert Groups: Adapting to the Contestation of Expertise

Considering the growing contestation of expertise in the public sphere, this chapter explores the institutionalisation of expert groups and how the European Commission (EC) has adapted its use of expertise. Drawing on established conceptualisations about the functions of expertise during the policy-making process, our analysis is two-fold. Firstly, we consider macro level changes and broader trends in the entire Expert Groups (EGs) system. Secondly, we examine the micro level changes of expert advice use in two case studies. Based on new data from the Commission’s register of EGs, as well as on interviews, primary and secondary sources, we find improvements with regard to transparency, conceptualised as improved access to the register. The EC has also specified better the classification of different types of experts. Furthermore, the two case studies of EGs—focusing on financial sustainability and lowering limits of industrial pollution—show that the use of expertise is both instrumental and strategic. Concretely, the strategic (consensus-building) use of expertise helped to narrow down the range of viewpoints. Eventually, this facilitated the identification of compromises and acceptable policy solutions in the policy shaping stage of the EU legislative process.
Elissaveta Radulova, Johanna Breuer, Aneta Spendzharova

Chapter 6. The Role of Expertise in the EU’s Emerging Diplomatic System

The focus of this chapter is on the organisation and role of expertise in the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP). It more particularly examines how the High Representative/Vice President (HR/VP) and the European External Action Service (EEAS) have organised the gathering and processing of European foreign policy expertise and whether this has led to contestation. Based on a case study on the Asia-Pacific department, it first identifies the rules of the game underlying the organisation of expertise in the EEAS and successively explores the day-to-day practice of these rules. The chapter does not limit itself to subject matter expertise but also includes political expertise, procedural expertise, policy expertise and expertise on experts. Building on social psychology, it focuses on expert groups rather than on individual experts as the basic unit of analysis. The exploratory case study on the Asia-Pacific department learns that the EEAS is in general able to perform as an expertise driven organization, notwithstanding its limited operational budget, successive reductions in staff numbers, and its staff rotating policy. There is a clear division of roles whereby EEAS staff concentrates on expert, political and process expertise, while subject matter and policy expertise are sourced externally. Thanks to flexible internal rules, EEAS staff members are able to identify and work with the required sources rather easily. The way in which the EEAS has organized the gathering and processing of European foreign policy expertise has not led to contestation, either from the member states, the Commission, or the broader public. There are occasional frictions between the EEAS and the member states, as well as between the EEAS and the Commission. However, such tensions are not so much about the use of expertise but rather concern the delineation of competences, political reliability, and different degrees of openness.
Tannelie Blom, Sophie Vanhoonacker

Chapter 7. Climate Science in the Courts

Expertise in the form of climate change science plays an indispensable role in governmental decision-making regarding the reduction of greenhouse gases. In order to make the (peer-reviewed) climate science accessible for policy-making, an important task is given to the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). However, reports from the IPCC—together with other scientific documents—may also be used in the courtroom. This contribution explores what role IPCC reports have played thus far in seminal court decisions in the US and Europe. Furthermore, it observes that while the IPCC will stay important for decision-making in the context of the Paris Agreement, the IPCC and its decision-making procedures have not remained uncontested in legal (and other) literature. In tandem with the important role taken or given to the IPCC, fundamental legal questions regarding the production of climate science by the IPCC have to be examined, for which the concept of “global administrative law” may be useful since it examines the legitimacy and accountability of international decision-making. If courts are indeed willing to follow statements from the IPCC or from peer reviewed articles in such a way that this amounts to standard-setting, like a specific emission pathway, the rule-making power of the executive and legislative branch will clearly become less important and may be overturned. While this can be an enormous victory for climate protection, the implied shift of power still needs to be objectively identified and discussed, particularly also in view of helping to avoid unjustified contestation of climate science.
Marjan Peeters

Chapter 8. Judicial Review of Science-Based Measures Under WTO Law

This chapter looks at the various ways in which the WTO dispute settlement bodies (DSBs) have engaged with science and scientific expertise when deciding trade disputes between WTO Members. In this context, it pays a special attention to the approach taken by the DSBs to the problems posed by scientific uncertainty, the development of specific science-based standards (such as insufficiency of scientific evidence or the specificity of risk assessment), and the conceptualization of the applicable standard of review. The chapter concludes that science has become an important and, in some instances, decisive element in the assessment of any national health and environmental-related trade measure. At the same time, it also identifies certain challenges posed by the employment of the strict science-based criteria. In particular, the WTO case law clearly shows that regulatory science is not as value- and policy-free as initially anticipates. Although the DSBs have tried to respond to these challenges by adjusting their science-based standards (e.g. by softening the specificity requirements, accepting that no minimum risk threshold should be required), some specific problems remain either still unrecognized or have been addressed only partially (e.g. the standard of review applicable to scientific determinations). It therefore remains to be seen whether the DSBs will be able to elucidate science-based standards in a way that will satisfy the expectations of the different constituencies.
Lukasz Gruszczynski

Chapter 9. Contesting Concentrated Scientific Power: The Case of the European Commission’s Chief Scientific Adviser

This chapter explores the public contestation of the scientific advisory institution the Chief Scientific Adviser (CSA) that was established by the European Commission from 2012–2014. Several non-governmental organisations collectively challenged the legitimacy of the position by pointing to two problematic issues: first, the concentration of power in a single adviser to deliver policy advice to the Commission President, and second, the lack of transparency on the contents, documentation, and public disclosure of the delivered policy advice. The controversy is argued to be part of a broader trend of re-evaluating the relationship between scientific advice and policy-making, specifically on the EU’s decision-making processes about how such experts are appointed, how their advice should be used and shared with the public. As such, through investigating the public controversy of the CSA, competing perspectives on how science and policy-making nexus is understood by the European Commission and the public are revealed. This is relevant especially in light of increasing demand for democratising decision-making, and for transparency and accountability of expert advisory bodies in the EU’s policy-making infrastructure.
Shelly Tsui

Chapter 10. Conclusion: The Contestation of Expertise in the EU

Bringing together the main insights of the book, this concluding chapter restates the relevance of understanding contestation of expertise in the EU. The chapter shows the main patterns and the consequences of contestation of expertise drawing from the different contributions in this book. The chapter is also forward looking by presenting how we need to re-think the role of expertise in the ‘post-factual’ world. We present four scenarios for future developments and acknowledge that regardless of which direction the EU is headed in the longer term, at present the European Union will have to adapt to the reality of a system in which scientific expertise remains both essential and contested in its contribution to public policy-making. What remains certain is that the contestation of expertise will continue to be a feature of European Union politics and jurisprudence in the 2020s.
Vigjilenca Abazi, Johan Adriaensen, Thomas Christiansen


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