Autonomy by the rules: The European commission and the development of state aid policy

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The European Commission has enhanced its autonomy to implement state aid policy with a superstructure of frameworks and guidelines constructed on the base of its Treaty-derived competence. The Commission's activism has also mobilized private sector actors whose interest in state aid monitoring reinforces the Commission's claim to being a neutral enforcement agent. However, these constituencies have also made new demands on Commission resources that may constrain the Commission. This finding has important implications for the scope of historical institutionalist analysis, which typically focuses on how Member State governments are constrained by past decisions. Ultimately the autonomy of supranational institutions may be self-limiting, with emerging constraints deriving not from the preferences of Member State governments, but from the very structuring of the European polity fostered by the autonomous actions of supranational institutions themselves. * The author thanks Karel Lannoo and Daniel Kelemen for comments on a draft of this essay and Chris Bon Tempo for research assistance. The author also acknowledges the financial support of the Fulbright Program of the Commission for Educational Exchange and Middlebury College, and the institutional support of the Centre for European Policy Studies. Agence Europe (1990) 'Letter from Industry Council President Mr Battaglia to his Colleagues' and 'Letter From Commission Vice-President Sir Leon Brittan to the President of the Industry Council', No. 1656. Reprinted in Boylan, E. 'The Piecemeal Approach to Procedural Rules in State Aid Cases', Masters Thesis, College of Europe, Bruges, May 1996.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)55-78
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Common Market Studies
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1998

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Business and International Management
  • General Business, Management and Accounting
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Political Science and International Relations

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