The politics of double delegation in the European Union

Michaelowa, K., Reinsberg, B. and Schneider, C. J. (2018) The politics of double delegation in the European Union. International Studies Quarterly, 62(4), pp. 821-833. (doi: 10.1093/isq/sqy034)

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Many international organizations channel financial contributions of their member countries through other international organizations to implement their programs and activities. In this context, the second step of the delegation chain is often costly and—at least seemingly—an easily avoidable duplication of a previous one. We examine the puzzling phenomenon of double delegation in the context of European aid. We argue that governments engage in double delegation in order to strengthen the role of the European Union (EU) as a multilateral donor agency. This leads to an increase in the flow of resources that, at times, exceeds what the Commission can effectively handle alone. Delegating aid to other organizations helps the Commission solve this capacity problem, but it also reduces its control over how the resources are spent. Consequently, the Commission must exercise judgment about which projects it delegates to other international organizations. Our quantitative and qualitative evidence shows that double delegation is more likely where the Commission's capacity as an aid donor is low and where EU members have no strategic interests at stake. We also show that the Commission tries to mitigate the loss of control by earmarking the delegated aid projects more tightly, notably when member preferences are heterogeneous. The results provide a new way of thinking about international delegation and bureaucratic politics in international organizations. Delegation problems may occur even if the interests between the principal and the agent align. Our approach highlights why this happens and how actors try to minimize the costs of this understudied type of agency slippage.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Reinsberg, Dr Bernhard
Authors: Michaelowa, K., Reinsberg, B., and Schneider, C. J.
College/School:College of Social Sciences > School of Social and Political Sciences > Politics
Journal Name:International Studies Quarterly
Publisher:Oxford University Press
ISSN (Online):1468-2478
Published Online:06 November 2018
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2018 The Authors
First Published:First published in International Studies Quarterly 62(4): 821-833
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the publisher copyright policy

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