Conclusion: Co‐ordinating National Action in Brussels—a Comparative Perspective

Hussein Kassim and B. Guy Peters

in The National Co-ordination of EU Policy

Published in print November 2001 | ISBN: 9780199248056
Published online November 2004 | e-ISBN: 9780191601545 | DOI:
 Conclusion: Co‐ordinating National Action in Brussels—a Comparative Perspective

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This concluding chapter addresses the main issues raised in the Introduction and presents the general findings that emerge from the country studies. It has three main aims. First, it puts forward three arguments on the basis of the national investigations of policy co-ordination at the European level, and comparisons of permanent representations: the first argument is that that all the member states have responded to the co-ordination need that arises from EU policy-making and most aspire to a careful crafting of policy, but that the nature of their response varies according to the prevailing national attitude to European integration, features of the national political and administrative opportunity structures, policy style, and available resources; the second argument is that, although there are some similarities between national arrangements with respect to some aspects of organization and core functions, there are also several very substantial differences—neither the ‘convergence hypothesis’ nor the ‘continuing divergence hypothesis’ outlined in the Introduction is confirmed by the case studies, but there is evidence that many of the factors identified by each are at work; the third argument is related to effectiveness—each set of national arrangements has its own particular strengths and weaknesses, but one common factor affecting performance is the efficiency of domestic co-ordination procedures. The second aim of the Conclusion is to consider the wider implications of the findings both for the functioning of the European Union as a system and for theorizing about the EU; with respect to the former, national arrangements in Brussels do little to overcome the problem of segmentation that characterizes the EU, but concerning the latter, the case studies suggest that the intergovernmentalist image is at odds with how national policy preferences are actually formed and the nature of the role played by the permanent representations; the alternative image approach outlined above, and described in the Introduction, offers a better guide on both counts. The third and final aim of the chapter is to compare national co-ordination practices at the domestic level with those found at the European level; the contention put forward is that the domestic co-ordination of EU policy is more effective than processes at the European level.

Keywords: convergence; divergence; domestic co-ordination of EU policy; effectiveness; EU policy; European co-ordination of EU policy; European permanent representations; European Union; national arrangements; national co-ordination; national policy; policy co-ordination; segmentation

Chapter.  20012 words. 

Subjects: European Union

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