Unpacking the mechanisms of the EU ‘throughput’ governance legitimacy: the case of EFSA

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The proliferation of EU agencies, referred to as agencification phenomenon, constitutes a significant EU institutional innovation. Agencification aimed to provide information, promote efficiency, decrease politicization and generate standards based on specialised technical knowledge. However, the expanded role of EU agencies in regulatory policymaking has raised legitimacy questions, particularly in times of crisis and scandals.
The legitimacy of agencies has been extensively studied with regard to input, and output (efficiency) legitimacy criteria. Instead, drawing on Schmidt’s (2013) work this article claims that in order to assess the overall legitimacy of the EU regulatory governance through agencies, the ‘throughput’ criterion needs to be considered. Although important, the ‘input’ (politics) and ‘output’ (policy) criteria fail to capture what happens within the actual governance (process), between the decisions and the outcomes. Examples from the EU food regulatory governance through the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), a particularly technical and scientific policy area, illustrate how the ‘throughput’ mechanisms operate. While the absence of one of the throughput mechanisms delegitimizes the regulatory governance of food, their simultaneous presence contributes to overall legitimacy of governance.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPerspectives on European Politics and Society
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)159-177
Number of pages18
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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