Information, commitment and consensus: a comparison of three perspectives on delegation in the European Union

Robert Thomson, R Torenvlied

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

26 Citations (Scopus)


Three perspectives on delegation in the European Union are presented in this article. The transaction-costs perspective focuses on information asymmetries between policy makers and implementers. According to the commitment perspective, policy makers delegate authority as a solution to commitment problems. The consensus-building perspective views the decision to delegate as a trade-off between decisiveness and inclusiveness during the bargaining process. Hypotheses are derived from these perspectives regarding the amount of delegation to both the European Commission and to member states in legislation. From detailed information on eighty-six EU laws, there is some evidence for the transaction-costs perspective as an explanation of delegation to the Commission. With respect to delegation to member states, there is some evidence for both the transaction-costs perspective and the consensus-building perspective.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)139-159
Number of pages21
JournalBritish Journal of Political Science
Issue number1
Early online date3 Sep 2010
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2011


  • European Union
  • delegation
  • consensus
  • commitment
  • information

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