Representing the United Kingdom in Brussels: The Fine Art of Positive Co‐ordination

Hussein Kassim

in The National Co-ordination of EU Policy

Published in print November 2001 | ISBN: 9780199248056
Published online November 2004 | e-ISBN: 9780191601545 | DOI:
 Representing the United Kingdom in Brussels: The Fine Art of Positive Co‐ordination

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This chapter examines the co-ordination of UK policy in Brussels, starting by putting the institutions, procedures, and policies that the UK has put in place at the European level in the context of the UK’s strategic or ‘positive’ co-ordination ambition. It then focuses on the role of the UK permanent representation (UKREP) in the system. After briefly outlining its history, the internal organization of UKREP is described, with accounts of its policies relating to personnel (composition, recruitment), its internal processes and working methods, and its responsibilities, roles, and functions. An assessment is then made of the capacity and effectiveness both of UKREP specifically and of the UK co-ordination arrangements more generally. Two arguments are advanced: the first is that the factors that account for the UK’s exacting co-ordination ambition—principally, the centralized nature of its political system, scepticism towards the European project, and a preference for intergovernmentalism over supranationalism—also largely explain why it has been administratively efficient, but not politically effective, at the European level; the second argument relates to devolution, and makes the point that, on the present evidence, the creation of devolved governments in Scotland and Wales does not threaten the co-ordination strategy pursued by the UK since its accession to the European Communities, since despite institutional adjustments made by the devolved authorities, in Brussels UKREP retains its primacy.

Keywords: administrative efficiency; Brussels; capacity; effectiveness; EU policy; European Union; functions; institutions; internal organization; internal processes; national policy; personnel; policy co-ordination; political ineffectiveness; procedures; responsibilities; roles; UK permanent representation; United Kingdom

Chapter.  12203 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: European Union

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