Skip to content

Due to scheduled maintenance, online ordering, in regions where offered, will not be available on this site from 08:00 until 10:00 BST on Sunday 21st April. We apologise for the inconvenience.

Register Sign in Wishlist
Look Inside The European Commission and Bureaucratic Autonomy

The European Commission and Bureaucratic Autonomy
Europe's Custodians

$45.99 (C)

  • Date Published: May 2014
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107689718

$ 45.99 (C)

Add to cart Add to wishlist

Other available formats:

Looking for an examination copy?

If you are interested in the title for your course we can consider offering an examination copy. To register your interest please contact providing details of the course you are teaching.

Product filter button
About the Authors
  • This book examines the struggle of the European Union bureaucracy to maintain its autonomy in an increasingly complex institutional setting and adverse political environment. Using an original survey of nearly two hundred top European Commission officials, it shows that the European Union is a coherent organization that shares a common culture of supranationalism. The European Union's multicephalous structure of political authority limits the capacity of European politicians to curb the autonomy of the Commission but tends to undermine the legitimacy of the organization, which finds itself under persistent political attacks. These attacks inadvertently help the organization bolster its defenses against the external threats and trigger internal legitimation processes that reinforce the devotion of its employees to its institutional mission. The rich survey data show how Commission bureaucrats establish themselves as the “custodians of Europe.” The book helps disentangle the complexity of the Commission and makes a contribution to the study of international bureaucracies, a topic that has received little attention.

    • Original survey of nearly 200 top Commission officials
    • Wealth of original data documenting the autonomy of the Commission
    • Theoretical discussion of bureaucratic autonomy in national and international settings
    Read more

    Reviews & endorsements

    “The countries of Europe have been undergoing hard times. Their most innovative achievement, the European Union, has come under increasing scrutiny as citizens deem that integration may be a significant part of the problem. Critics on both the Left and Right worry that Brussels has too much power, and that senior civil servants of the EU need to be held accountable. This book is a study of the politics of the European Commission and is in the best traditions of empirical research. Ellinas and Suleiman’s interviews allow them to establish that European civil servants do indeed share a culture favoring continued integration. They find that political criticism reaffirms the Eurocrats’ supranational convictions, and that the mandarins of Brussels enjoy more autonomy than their political masters in the member states might like. Defenders and critics of the European project will find this study very useful reading.”
    —Harvey B. Feigenbaum, The George Washington University

    “A fascinating European version of the ‘tail wagging the dog’: in spite of harsh criticism from political elites as well as public opinion, EU bureaucrats manage to avoid being controlled by their too many political masters and remain at the center of the game. They are the ‘custodians,’ but who will guard the guardians? This is a book that anyone interested in European affairs should read. It will be a classic in bureaucratic politics studies.”
    —Yves Mény, Emeritus President, European University Institute

    “This study of the European Union bureaucracy makes a major contribution to the study of both the EU and public bureaucracies. Of the institutions within the EU, less is known about the bureaucracy than the other institutions, and this study demonstrates how the bureaucracy uses its own resources to promote its autonomy. The study also demonstrates how much we can learn about governing by simply asking the people involved some basic questions about what they do and how they do it.”
    —B. Guy Peters, University of Pittsburgh

    “No study of the EU bureaucracy is comparable to Ellinas and Suleiman’s book. This is an indispensable analysis of the relatively integrated culture of the senior high-level bureaucracy in Brussels in an EU composed of an increasingly disparate array of member states. The book’s analysis derives from a systematic survey of these officials, and it is written with eloquence and acuity.”
    —Bert A. Rockman, Purdue University

    “The European Commission remains at the heart of European integration, also in time of crisis. Ellinas and Suleiman’s organizational sociology approach concentrates on the educational and the career-driven background as well as the multiple accountability of Commission civil servants. Their book makes a powerful argument against those who argue that the Commission has lost momentum. The authors argue that, on the contrary, the multicephalous structure of the political authority in the European Union limits the capacity of political actors to curb the Commission’s authority and at the same time helps the Commission to define a strategy that might reinforce its legitimation. A must-read for all those interested in the functioning of the Commission.”
    —Sabine Saurugger, Sciences Po Grenoble/Institut universitaire de France

    "By building on earlier studies that focus on the role of the European bureaucracy and relying on extensive survey research, Ellinas and Suleiman offer an empirically sound study that assesses the European Commission within the broader context of political legitimacy and autonomy. Summing Up: Recommended" -A.E. Wohlers, Cameron University, CHOICE Magazine

    See more reviews

    Customer reviews

    Not yet reviewed

    Be the first to review

    Review was not posted due to profanity


    , create a review

    (If you're not , sign out)

    Please enter the right captcha value
    Please enter a star rating.
    Your review must be a minimum of 12 words.

    How do you rate this item?


    Product details

    • Date Published: May 2014
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107689718
    • length: 252 pages
    • dimensions: 216 x 140 x 15 mm
    • weight: 0.33kg
    • contains: 2 b/w illus. 36 tables
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Introduction
    2. The autonomy of national and transnational bureaucracies
    3. Surveying top European bureaucrats
    4. Autonomy at the top of the European bureaucracy
    5. Political attempts to alter bureaucratic behavior
    6. Cultural impediments to political control
    7. Custodians of 'Europe'
    8. Bureaucratic attitudes and policy outputs
    9. Conclusion.

  • Authors

    Antonis A. Ellinas, University of Cyprus
    Antonis A. Ellinas is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Cyprus. He received his Ph.D. from Princeton University and his B.A. from Hamilton College. He has been a postdoctoral fellow at the Reuters Institute and Nuffield College of Oxford University and a Fulbright Scholar. He studies political organizations and specializes on political parties, the mass media and public bureaucracies. His first book, The Media and the Far Right in Western Europe, was published by Cambridge University Press in 2010. His work has appeared in Comparative Politics, the Journal of European Public Policy and the Journal of Common Market Studies, among others.

    Ezra Suleiman, Princeton University, New Jersey
    Ezra Suleiman is the IBM Professor of International Studies and Professor of Politics, as well as the founder and former Director of the Program in European Politics and Society at Princeton University. He received his BA from Harvard University, continued his graduate work at the Universities of London and Paris and received his M.A. and Ph.D. from Columbia University. Professor Suleiman has lectured and taught at many European universities and was a professor at the Institut d'Etudes Politiques in Paris for more than a decade. He has been a visiting scholar at numerous institutions, including the CNRS (France), Louvain-La-Neuve (Belgium), Nuffield College (Oxford), the European University Institute (Florence) and the University of Turin (Italy). He has received numerous awards from, among others, the Guggenheim Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the ACLS, the Fulbright Commission, the German Marshall Fund of the United States, the Wissenschaftskolleg in Berlin, the American Academy in Berlin, the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study and the Collegio Carlo Alberto (University of Turin). Professor Suleiman was awarded the Legion of Honor by President Jacques Chirac for his contribution to French culture and to Franco-American relations. He has published more than ten books on European politics covering areas of policy making, comparative bureaucracy, elites and executive leadership. He has also contributed articles to Time Magazine, The Los Angeles Times, Le Figaro, Le Monde, Liberation and The Wall Street Journal, among others. He serves on the boards of several journals, academic institutions, and think tanks, as well as several corporations.

Sign In

Please sign in to access your account


Not already registered? Create an account now. ×

Sorry, this resource is locked

Please register or sign in to request access. If you are having problems accessing these resources please email

Register Sign in
Please note that this file is password protected. You will be asked to input your password on the next screen.

» Proceed

You are now leaving the Cambridge University Press website. Your eBook purchase and download will be completed by our partner Please see the permission section of the catalogue page for details of the print & copy limits on our eBooks.

Continue ×

Continue ×

Continue ×

Find content that relates to you

Join us online

This site uses cookies to improve your experience. Read more Close

Are you sure you want to delete your account?

This cannot be undone.


Thank you for your feedback which will help us improve our service.

If you requested a response, we will make sure to get back to you shortly.

Please fill in the required fields in your feedback submission.