Too Boring to Attract Critical Scholars: Remarks on Critical Administrative Law and European Integration

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    • Presentation speakers
      • Christian Weitzel, University of Pannonia, Veszprém, Hungary


    Critical scholars rarely engage in administrative law. This is especially true for EU administrative law and its extensive application of composite administration techniques, in which so called comitology plays a pivotal role. Comitology is deemed as merely technical, mainly involved in agricultural policy issues and, above all, boring. While it is true that it may be boring to dip into the world of Commission-official law-making, it is by far not limited to CAP regulation, nor is it only technical. This paper argues that critical administrative scholarship is essential for emancipatory politics in Europe. It provides for quantitative empirical evidence that social and economic life across the EU is overwhelmingly regulated by legal measures adopted by Commission officials. Qualitative empirical examples confute the myth that comitology would only touch upon highly technical implementation rules. Subsequently, the paper carries out how knowledge (and nescience) of EU administrative procedures affects emancipatory policy activities, in order to help understand why resistance and opposition to EU politics do fail so often, even in times of multiple crises. Instead of referring to the pitfalls of mainstream accounts of European Integration in tackling comitology, the paper makes remarks on critical integration studies’ failure to properly address EU administrative law. EU studies critical of power and concerned with emancipation, being generally underrepresented, exhibit a bias in their attention to obvious and direct policy deficits, such as migration policy or workers’ rights, and often neglect the role of the underlying mechanisms of policy formulation and implementation across sectors, i.e. the hegemonic techniques of European integration. The paper suggests to extend neo-Gramscian, especially Poulantzian ideas of the state and its internationalisation to EU administrative law for to better understand and influence the hegemonic mechanisms dominating social power relations across EU Member States.