Patterns of coordination in the European Commission : an analysis of interservice consultations around climate change adaptation policy (2007–2018)

Candel, Jeroen J.L.; Princen, Sebastiaan; Biesbroek, Robbert


Organising effective policy coordination has become a key principle of EU policymaking in recent decades. Within the European Commission, interservice consultations (ISCs) play an important role to coordinate between the different directorate-generals. In spite of this importance, ISCs have so far not been analysed in a systematic way. This paper addresses this gap by systematically analysing the numbers, types and content of comments made in ISCs around climate change adaptation. Our analysis shows that ISCs were primarily used to provide substantive comments, related to problem analyses, objectives or instruments, as well as to strengthen or weaken connections with policy efforts in adjacent domains. Institutional comments, related to mandates or resources, proved rare. Moreover, we find that the types of comments given in ISCs are mediated by institutional factors that shape the temporal dynamics of policy processes. Rather than reflecting the ideal types of ‘negative’ and ‘positive’ coordination, the overall pattern of policy coordination in the ISCs typifies an in-between form of ‘incremental policy coordination.’.