Although cabinets in the European Commission have attracted considerable interest, scholarly attention has mainly focused on their composition and influence. How the status of cabinets or the relations between them have changed over time, and how cabinets have been affected by changes to the wider institutional environment, has gone largely unexamined. This article takes a step towards filling that gap. It argues that, despite apparent stability in the functions that cabinets perform, the cabinet system has undergone a quiet transformation. A new differentiation has created hierarchical relations within the cabinet system, with implications for policy coordination and output. Using historical institutionalist theory, the article shows that Commission cabinets have been affected less by reforms addressed directly at them and more by internal rule change aimed at other parts of their institutional environment.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of European Public Policy
Early online date27 Dec 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 27 Dec 2021


  • European Commission
  • Cabinets
  • Gradual Institutional Change
  • Historical Institutionalism
  • Presidentialisation

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