New research project: The executive triangle of the European Commission

The EUS team participates in the "CoREx" network, which analyses the executive triangle of executive politicians, top bureaucrats and political advisors in Europe from an innovative and comparative perspective. The network is funded by the "European Cooperation in Science and Technology" (COST) and consists of more than 120 researchers from all over Europe. As part of Working Group 2, Prof Dr Eva Heidbreder and Dr Johannes Gerken are carrying out research on career patterns in the executive triangle of the European Commission as a central political actor within the EU’s multilevel governance framework. The project will run until October 2027. 

Project description from the COST-website:

“CoREx creates a unique pan-European network of researchers studying the relationships of executive politicians, top civil servants, and ministerial advisers (‘the executive triangle’) from an internationally comparative perspective. These three actors and their mutual relationships significantly shape policymaking. Their capacity to solve problems and to make legitimate decisions are at the core of democratic governance. While pressing contemporary policy problems require professional top civil service competence, executive politicians demand political advice from personally trusted individuals to navigate their increasingly polarized and mediatized environments. CoREx addresses this tension between professional competence and political craft by taking a system-perspective on the executive triangle. Through pan-European networking and knowledge sharing across all regions in Europe, it develops a common conceptual and methodological framework revolving around different dimensions of politicization to collect comparative data from across Europe. Thereby, CoREx bridges currently disconnected research on the top civil service and ministerial advisers, as well as disparities in geographical coverage and research capacities. CoREx will generate comparative datasets and analyses on the institutional set-up, career backgrounds, roles and interactions in policymaking, and accountability and transparency of the executive triangle across regions and over time. In an innovative way, CoREx will provide systematic comparative knowledge about trends, causes, and consequences of different configurations of the executive triangle. CoREx contributes to a better understanding of democratic governance in times of increasing political polarization and populist politics. The unprecedented results will be relevant for the scientific community, stakeholders, and the public at large.” (



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