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Conference Papers Year : 2010

Health assessment agencies as intensive knowledge bureaucracies


Since the mid-1990s, Europe has seen the creation of agencies in charge of assessing health, notably in relation to pharmaceuticals, foodstuffs and health care. Often analyzed as non-majoritarian institutions, these agencies are depicted as a disaggregation of traditional bureaucracies, in a move towards greater accountability, transparency and legitimacy. Yet, if one looks, not at the Community or national level, but at an intermediate level, a totally different picture appears. Through the interactions between Community and national agencies, a powerful process of aggregation progressively brings these institutions together, forming a new layer of administration working with similar or even common procedures and protocols, sharing the same data, producing knowledge together. Such an observation stands in contrast with the literature on Europeanization, which indicates that if one looks between the traditional public institutions and policy processes that organize Europe, strong forms of “transnational activity” play an important role in establishing ties and relations, but that these forms remain relatively “soft” compared to the hard politics of European integration. With our hypothesis, we want to suggest that there are also hard processes taking place within these forms of transnational activity. More precisely, we consider that these processes of aggregation are inherently bureaucratic, i.e. that they contribute to the formation of a new layer of formally organised bureaucracy in the interstices of European and national administrations. And we consider that what holds these agencies together is the production of a specific form of knowledge destined to feed in the policy process. This knowledge takes a specific form: a highly protocolized process whereby procedures determine the content of the work produced by the agencies. The bureaucratic process of institution building at the European level (rather than at Community or national level) is thus strengthened by the standardized process of knowledge production. As these two processes operate simultaneously, they contribute to the formation of relatively autonomous and powerful actors of European integration


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hal-03399029 , version 1 (23-10-2021)



Daniel Benamouzig, Olivier Borraz. Health assessment agencies as intensive knowledge bureaucracies. Annual Meeting of the 17th International Conference of the Council for European Studies, Apr 2010, Montréal, Canada. ⟨hal-03399029⟩
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