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The Junior Research Group examines the internal dynamics of position formation in the European Commission. Until now the Commission has mostly been regarded as a unitary actor; very little is known about its internal functioning. It remains unclear what happens inside the Commission before it feeds a legislative initiative into the EU’s political system, or why it sometimes proposes contradictory legislation or risks considerable conflicts with member states and other political actors.

The group examines two essential research questions: What shapes the policy position of a Directorate-General and its Commissioner for a specific legislative proposal? What shapes the power of a Directorate-General and its Commissioner in internal contentions?

The research is based on 49 legislative initiatives in the areas of common market and social policy, research and innovation, and consumer policy, using material from 150 expert interviews with Commission officials. These analyses are complemented with the first comprehensive database on Directorates-General and their Commissioners, going back to the founding treaties of 1957.

Since February 2008 the group has been supported by a five-year grant from the Volkswagen foundation.