Delegating Security? (compl.)

EU Agencies in Internal and External Security Policy

The EU increasingly delegates competences to specialized agencies, also in the politically sensitive fields of internal and external security, for example to the European Defence Agency or the border management agency FRONTEX. The spectrum of their competences is broad, ranging from information analysis and technical advice to executive tasks with direct effects for the European citizen and the deployment of staff authorized to use weapons.

From the perspective of democratic theory as well as political practice, the delegation of such far reaching competences to independent agencies raises questions regarding their control and accountability towards their principals in governments and parliaments (input-legitimacy) and their actual effectiveness in fulfilling the delegated tasks (output-legitimacy). These questions are being discussed with growing intensity in political practice. On the one hand, the adequate scrutiny of security agencies is challenged. On the other, more competences and autonomy for these agencies are called for in order to improve their general effectiveness.

The research project »Delegating Security? EU Agencies in Internal and External Security Policy«, funded by the Fritz-Thyssen-Stiftung, addresses these issues by investigating the control and effectiveness of selected EU-Agencies on the basis of a comparative analysis over several years (2006-2012). It takes into account the particularities of the political system of the European Union and explores five agencies in detail:

  • European Agency for the Management of Operational Cooperation at the External Borders of the Member States of the European Union (FRONTEX)
  • European Defence Agency (EDA)
  • European Union Satellite Centre (EUSC)
  • European Police Office (EUROPOL)
  • European Police College (CEPOL)

The project raises two related questions:

  • How can the differences in de facto control of EU security agencies be explained?
  • Which factors influence the effectiveness of EU security agencies?

Integrating the findings from the above analyses, the project will identify structural challenges for the control and effectiveness of EU security agencies in practice. We aim to contribute to the academic and political debate on the ongoing expansion of EU agencies by making recommendations on how to combine a high level of democratic control with an equally high added value and effectiveness of EU security agencies.

Project duration: December 2012 – November 2014

Project team:
Daniela Kietz
Dr. Nicolai von Ondarza

Project funding: Fritz Thyssen Stiftung