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Explaining Variation in the Role of the EU Council Secretariat in First and Second Pillar Policy-making

Hylke Dijkstra

This article explains how the EU Council Secretariat exercises political influence in the first and second pillar. It is surprising that the Secretariat adopts quite different strategies in both pillars, given that its formal competences in the Treaties are so alike. The main argument is that the rationale behind the initial delegation of tasks to the Council Secretariat is pivotal. While the Council Secretariat in the first pillar was created to improve the efficiency of the decision-making process, in the second pillar it also constitutes - particularly in the field of security and defence - an expert bureaucracy. In terms of the principal-agent model this difference leads to other goal conflicts, informational asymmetries, and opportunities. Whereas in the first instance process interests and process expertise are central, in the second case the actual substance of policies also comes into play. Due to these different goal conflicts and informational asymmetries the Council Secretariat is forced to adopt other strategies.

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