The transparency of expertise in EU policy-making

  • Mark Field

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


This thesis contributes to a growing body of literature on the role of transparency in public life. Analysing EU transparency through three levels of analysis, the thesis investigates how and why the expert advice proffered to EU policy makers is made transparent to EU citizens.

At the institutional level, the study compares the transparency provided through the online registers to assess the extent of compliance with the rules and guidelines on the provision of information. It shows significant errors and gaps in the publicly available data, and demonstrates that these inaccuracies are the result of poor quality assurance at the institutions.

At the group/actor level, the study draws on data from a series of elite interviews with policy-makers to consider the purpose of EU transparency. It shows that, whilst individual actors overwhelmingly frame transparency in wholly positive terms, collectively they bestow it with multiple attributes. The thesis posits that the EU has multiple transparencies and that the transparency tools - intended to improve citizen trust in the EU institutions - are frequently used by groups to undermine this trust.

The process level of analysis examines the nature of the expertise used in the policy process in two distinct areas. It shows that, overwhelmingly, individuals apply to join an expert group following an informal approach from officials at the relevant Directorate General, and that those appointed in a personal capacity are likely to be already known to the Commission official responsible for the appointment. The study argues that, for the Commission’s expert group appointments, the non-transparent nature of these informal processes undermines the Commission’s rules and guidelines on transparency.

Finally, the thesis recommends a number of specific and low cost measures to improve the transparency of the expertise used in the EU’s policy-making process.
Date of AwardMar 2015
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Portsmouth
SupervisorKaren Heard-Laureote (Supervisor), Wolfram Kaiser (Supervisor) & Robert Frith (Supervisor)

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