The European Commission and the law-making process: compromise as a category of praxis

Katerina Sideri
2005 International Journal of Law in Context  
Understanding law-making requires coming to grips with cognitive schemas, practical wisdom of agents involved in the production of law, as agents may interpret or apply the law according to socially accepted mental schemas developed as a result of socialisation in families, schools, universities and other social settings or in the course of exchange in professional settings. A case study on the conduct of officials of the European Commission seeks to illustrate this point. This looks at tacit
more » ... is looks at tacit understandings regulating the conduct of officials of the European Commission, engaging in the production of a legal proposal or in the implementation of a legal measure. Such interaction may be successful, or less successful, depending on how contentious a legal file is, but is underlined by certain understandings, particular norms of conduct, as to how things are get done. In uncovering shared understandings, the article looks at modes of co-operation in working parties and shared files, promotion procedures, mobility, and how reputation is valued and acquired. The thesis advanced is of important cognitive schema, anthropological category of praxis, regulating the law-making process inside the European Commission is compromise. major theoretical attempts to apply the cognitive approach by stressing the significance of informal norms and practical knowledge are presented by Garfinkel's ethnomethodological inquiry of courtroom interaction and Bourdieu's theory of practice, as applied in the field of law and the field of bureaucracy (Bourdieu 1986a (Bourdieu , 1994 , as the following section will seek to demonstrate. In a nutshell, the argument here is that to understand law-making in general, it is important to come to grips with cognitive schemas, practical wisdom of agents involved in the production of law. Agents may interpret or apply the law according to socially accepted mental schemas developed, for instance, in the course of exchange in professional settings, or as a result of socialisation in families, schools, universities and other social settings. A case study on the conduct of officials of the European Commission seeks to illustrate this point. This looks at tacit understandings regulating the conduct of officials of the European Commission engaging in the production of a legal proposal or in the implementation of a legal measure. The arguments in a legal file are the result of the complex interaction amongst many persons and many different services of the European Commission. Such interaction may be successful, or less successful, depending on how contentious a legal file is, but is underlined by certain understandings, particular norms of conduct, as to how things are get done. In uncovering shared understandings, the article looks at modes of co-operation in working parties and shared files, promotion procedures and mobility, while reputation, how it is valued and acquired, is a theme that runs across all relevant sections. In what follows the question addressed is: what are the common-sense understandings reproduced, for example, in the course of exchange leading to the initiation of a legislative proposal? In answering this question the following section will first engage in a theoretical articulation of the notion of cognitive schemas and how this is relevant to studying the making of a legal proposal by the European administration. The article will then proceed to give an interactionist account of exchanges inside the European Commission. Finally, the last main section will engage in a theoretical analysis of my empirical results. The main proposition is that compromise is an important pattern of praxis regulating the crystallisation of a legal argument. Downloaded
doi:10.1017/s1744552305002041 fatcat:eoezvma5vnctpduemtai2zxtuu