Managing the Dilemma of Discretion: The European Commission and the Development of EU State Aid Policy


Political Science and International Affairs

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This article examines the role played by the European Commission in the development of the European Union's (EU) state aid policy. It does so through the prism of a 'dilemma' that exists at the nexus of the Commission's delegated authority to administer EU treaty state aid provisions, the discretion conferred on Commission authorities by the imprecise language in which those provisions are written, and the political and institutional control mechanisms EU member governments use to influence the exercise of that discretion. Examining Commission efforts to manage this dilemma over the history of the EU, we provide evidence to illustrate how the Commission's approach adapted to shifting economic and political conditions.