Expertise in Supranational Politics
: The European Parliamentary Research Service, Policymaking, and the Democratic Deficit

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    How policymakers source, process, and utilise expertise is increasingly salient in the face of complex global policy challenges and post-truth politics. These challenges are especially complex for parliaments that suffer from significant resource-based disadvantages in their relations with executives. Against this background, this thesis explores if and how parliaments can strengthen their policy-making capabilities by developing unbiased in-house scientific expertise to support individual parliamentarians.
    The thesis is a single case study of the European Parliament, which has reformed and expanded the services it provides to its members by creating the European Parliamentary Research Service. Through process-tracing and the use of an innovative mixed-methods data collection approach to comparing four applied policymaking processes, the thesis explores the quality and impact of in-house expertise relative to other sources.
    The thesis demonstrates that in-house expertise gained a mid-range role in European Parliament policymaker expertise sourcing patterns. It provided interactional expertise for all examined policy processes. It enabled better informed policymaker/constituent/stakeholder interactions and contributed to processes of (re)framing debates and policy processes to manage the partisan contestation of expertise in cases of epistemic uncertainty. It also helped the institution to justify the use of new post-Lisbon competences. These effects are especially pronounced in non-Ordinary Legislative Procedure policymaking. In-house expertise can contribute to policymaking in this manner as it upholds the dual requirement of policymakers regarding the epistemic robustness and political utility of expertise. Thus, European Parliamentary Research Service expertise is perceived as trustworthy and usable for policymaking by policymakers. Furthermore, in-house expertise has a limited but important role in legitimating legislative policymaking and combating trends of de-parliamentarisation.
    In this way, the thesis significantly advances the descriptive and mainly nationally focussed literature on internal legislative expertise provisions. In addition, results also have implications for transnational legislative cooperation and the legitimation of the European Union’s multi-level governance.
    Date of Award5 May 2023
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • University of Portsmouth
    SupervisorWolfram Kaiser (Supervisor), Nora Siklodi (Supervisor) & Mark Bradley Field (Supervisor)

    Cite this