The Swedish Permanent Representation to the EU: Melding National and Collective Interests

Sonia Mazey

in The National Co-ordination of EU Policy

Published in print November 2001 | ISBN: 9780199248056
Published online November 2004 | e-ISBN: 9780191601545 | DOI:
 The Swedish Permanent Representation to the EU: Melding National and Collective Interests

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The chapter is divided into two main parts, with the first part of the discussion providing the contextual backdrop to the detailed study of the Swedish permanent representation that follows. The argument presented in the first part is twofold: first, it is argued that effective co-ordination of EU policy at both the national and EU levels is regarded as extremely important by the Swedish government for at least two related reasons—the high political salience of EU matters in Sweden, and the Social Democratic government’s determination to be an influential actor in the EU policy arena; second, it is argued that, although Swedish administrative adjustment to EU membership has been relatively unproblematic in the short term, the process of adaptation is not yet complete—the initial belief that EU matters could simply be incorporated into the Swedish system of ministerial consultation has proved problematic, and the volume and pace of EU policy-making has placed considerable strains upon the limited resources of the Swedish ministries, and might yet prove to be incompatible with Swedish policy style. In an attempt to address these problems, the government introduced in 1998 new co-ordinating structures designed to streamline central EU policy co-ordination and strengthen political leadership on EU policy. The second part of the chapter examines how the Swedish permanent representation fits into this wider picture; it discusses the organization, personnel, internal functioning and working methods, and role of the Brussels-based administration, and evaluates its effectiveness and capacity to implement ambitions, bearing in mind the co-ordination needs and policy ambitions of the Swedish administration. The picture that emerges from this study is one of a technically specialized, functionally segmented, and non-hierarchical bureaucracy, which, after five years, is nevertheless still evolving as an administration, and whose effectiveness in delivering national policy ambitions is as much a reflection of its capacity to influence the national administration as of its diplomatic role in Brussels.

Keywords: Brussels; effectiveness; EU policy; European Union; implementation of ambitions; internal functioning; national administration; national policy; organization; personnel; policy co-ordination; Sweden; Swedish administration; Swedish administrative adjustment; Swedish permanent representation; working methods

Chapter.  9377 words. 

Subjects: European Union

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