More and more people are complaining about bureaucracy. Indeed, if we take the example of the current French debate about the European Constitution, we can see that a lot of politicians are ascribed to Brussels bureaucrats; the difficulties people are facing, such as unemployment, delocalization or even reforms- which according to those politicians are imposed by Brussels. In other words, they are implying that Bureaucrats from Brussels rule the European Union and are uncontrollable.
However that feature is not a part and parcel of the definition of Bureaucracy, which only implies that governments are run by rules which are enforced by bureaus who are dedicated to just those rules. The original idea was to establish rules of law instead of arbitrary enforcement, which tends to be corrupt. Bureaucracy had been set up by governments in order to impose their control over the population. But today it is often said that the Bureaucracy has seized the power.
[...] This is the task of the sovereign, the people and their representatives. Thus, in regard to the budget, the Bureaucracy cannot be believed to be uncontrollable. But Politicians can have a stronger control over Bureaucrats thanks to their ability to appoint officials and affect the organization of the Bureaucracy and to their personal authority. The most obvious means of allowing political control over the civil servants is enabling politicians to select their own, at least those who will be their immediate subordinates and, more importantly, their policy advisors. [...]
[...] The Bureaucracy retains another principal advantage in a struggle over power and policy, it is numerous and often organized through unions. Civil servants must be dealt as a block, with threats of strikes. And in case of strikes, governments are under pressure to find an agreement to the dispute, as civil servants' services cannot be suspended for more than a short period of time. Therefore, with unionization the political system is in danger of losing control over their electoral promises, its budget as well as of its personnel policies. [...]
[...] Thus, because of the lack of political authority, the Bureaucracy is considered to be uncontrollable in the European Union. Moreover as Weber pointed out, popular support is important in political leadership and many commissioners cannot claim any popular support for their intended policies. As a conclusion, we can say that bureaucracy is in a strong position when compared to other potential policy-making institutions, since it has the expertise, the time, the stability and the techniques required to be an effective policy maker in the modern age. [...]
[...] France too has an administrative Court which is in charge of controlling the lawfulness of a decision and to be more accurate, is in charge of controlling deciding whether the bureaucracy has acted in accordance with its obligation to act in the general interest. The creation of a specific administrative jurisdiction, such as conseil d'Etat” in France proves the necessity to judge and to control the bureaucracy in order to deal with the disputes between the administration and the citizens. [...]
[...] When a decision is made by a civil servant, if a citizen is against it, he/she can resort to a hierarchical appeal. And the hierarchical superior always has the capacity to reconsider a decision and can even cancel it. It is frequently asserted that bureaucracy represents a threat to democracy. This is not true. Democracy implies the supremacy of the Law. If it were otherwise, bureaucrats would be irresponsible and arbitrary despots. So administrative legislation, as well as the Law in other countries, is able to control the bureaucracy. [...]
APA Style referenceFor your bibliography
Online readingwith our online reader
Content validatedby our reading committee