- Agency growth between autonomy and accountability: the European Police Office as a ‘living institution’
- Journal of European Public Policy
- Volume | Issue number
- 18 | 6
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Law (FdR)
- Amsterdam Center for European Law and Governance (ACELG)
Autonomy and accountability of public agencies are two sides of the same coin, yet often they are examined separately and at only one point in time. This contribution therefore examines the interaction between accountability and autonomy over time. It does so in the context of a European Union agency, the European Police Office (Europol), the creation of which has been the subject of much contestation and discussion in terms of its possibility to wield autonomy and escape accountability. The contribution looks at de jure aspects of both autonomy and accountability, but moves beyond a strictly formal analysis and investigates actual practices. Drawing on extensive document analysis and 26 in-depth semi-structured interviews with key agency officials as well as members of the relevant accountability forums, this contribution shows that tailored accountability arrangements, which are acceptable to the actors involved, reinforce autonomy, whereas an inappropriate and contested accountability system has the opposite effect, stifling autonomous development, as seems to have been the case with regard to Europol.
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