Getting Cozy, or How the European Commission Produces Legitimacy in the EU

Retour aux publications
HENSELL, Stephan
Oxford Academic
International Studies Perspective


Hensell, S. (2021). Getting Cozy, or How the European Commission Produces Legitimacy in the EU. International Studies Perspectives


International organizations increasingly resort to strategies of legitimation in order to justify their authority and policies. This article explores one such strategy of the European Commission that targets organized interest groups with the aim to build a legitimating constituency. The members of this constituency not only contribute expertise to a policy, but also benefit from that policy and, therefore, participate in the development and confirmation of a claim to the policy's legitimacy that is put forward by EU officials. As a consequence, the agents seeking legitimacy and the addressees granting it become closely associated and “get cozy” with each other. EU officials address their claim to legitimacy to a community of co-opted elites who are likely to confirm this claim and in whose own interests it is to do so. The result is legitimation as a collaborative activity with preordained outcomes. Taking the case of the European Commission's research and innovation policy, and building in part on an ethnographic practitioner's account, the article provides an original insight into how this legitimation strategy works in everyday EU policymaking.