The Europeanisation of Whitehall

The Europeanisation of Whitehall: UK central government and the European Union

Simon Bulmer
Martin Burch
Copyright Date: 2009
Pages: 272
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  • Book Info
    The Europeanisation of Whitehall
    Book Description:

    What has been the impact of the EU on UK central government? This book explores the ‘Europeanisation’ of the work of civil servants and ministers and how they engage with the EU. Drawing on fresh empirical evidence, the volume offers the first comprehensive analysis of the spreading impact of European integration across government. The study is placed in the context of political divisions over the EU but outlines the often neglected way in which the EU has transformed the business of government. It charts the process from the Macmillan government’s 1961 application to join the European Communities through to the end of Blair’s premiership. The book examines the character and timing of responses across government, covering the core government departments and also those more recently affected, such as the Ministry of Defence. The authors argue that central government has organized itself efficiently to deal with the demands of EU membership despite the often controversial party political divisions over Europe. However, in placing their findings in comparative context they conclude that the effectiveness of UK governments in the EU has been less striking.

    eISBN: 978-1-84779-274-7
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-v)
  3. List of boxes
    (pp. vi-vi)
  4. List of figures
    (pp. vii-vii)
  5. List of tables
    (pp. viii-viii)
  6. Preface
    (pp. ix-xi)
  7. List of abbreviations
    (pp. xii-xvii)
  8. 1 Setting the scene
    (pp. 1-19)

    The United Kingdom’s relationship with the European Union (EU) has been complex and troublesome. The relationship itself is multifaceted: open to historical, political, economic and legal analysis. A comprehensive examination of the political relationship alone would need to take into account the interaction between the EU and British political forces, the system of government and public policy. Our study is rather more restricted, though of key importance to the political relationship. It centres on the interaction between British central government and the EU. Our concern is thus with how central government has adapted to EU membership and with its response,...

  9. 2 The Europeanisation of UK central government: analytical challenges
    (pp. 20-33)

    This chapter is designed to provide an analytical basis for our study of how British central government has come to terms with European integration. It rests on two elements which are examined in the chapter: Europeanisation and new institutionalism. Our initial concern is to locate the study in the context of the Europeanisation literature. In doing so, we place the adaptation to the EU of the UK generally, and of Whitehall specifically, within a comparative context. While our concern is principally with the UK, notwithstanding the comparison in Chapter 9, placing our study in the context of Europeanisation is designed...

  10. 3 The EU framework for UK policy-making
    (pp. 34-64)

    The purpose of this chapter is to offer a review of the EU framework within which UK central government operates. This EU framework is important for a range of reasons, but most centrally because it is the main source of Europeanisation effects. There are other sources of Europeanisation, such as the separate, Strasbourg-based Council of Europe, but we have excluded them from our study. Europeanisation and European policy are also closely bound up with a series of bilateral relationships with individual EU member states. Bilateral relations form an important context for European policy-making in the UK but our primary concern...

  11. 4 Approaching Europe: Europeanisation and accession
    (pp. 65-90)

    In this chapter we examine adaptation in British central government in the period up to and including accession. We utilise the analytical toolkits of Europeanisation and historical institutionalism as set out in Chapter 2 to focus our empirical detail. Was accession in 1973 the critical juncture in adapting to Europe? That at least would seem to be an initial presumption, since Chapter 3 revealed that European integration had already developed a strong body of legislation and some supranational characteristics by the time the Heath government came to substantive negotiation of accession. By virtue of the UK having stood aside from...

  12. 5 The management of EU business in Whitehall: the hub
    (pp. 91-125)

    The Europeanisation of Whitehall over the period since accession has continued apace. It has built on the institutional framework fully established in 1973. Key trends have been expansion, fragmentation, refinement and these have been coupled with two contrasting trends: centralisation and decentralisation. Expansion has involved a significant increase in the number of participants and departments involved. Fragmentation has taken place as the growth of business has resulted in relatively separate groupings emerging: each dealing with particular areas of business. Refinement has been evident as practices and processes for handling business have become fully established. Centralisation has seen a closer involvement...

  13. 6 The European Union and ‘inner core’ departments
    (pp. 126-153)

    This chapter explores the way in which the EU has impinged upon the inner core of departments most engaged in EU policy-making in UK central government.¹ In seeking a comprehensive approach, we have prioritised certain parts of the Whitehall European policy-making network. Leaving aside the ‘hub’ of the network, already covered in Chapter 5, these categories are:

    An inner core of ministries with extensive involvement in the EU: DEFRA, the Treasury and the DTI.

    Other London-based ministries, which have varying degrees of involvement in EU business. These range from the Home Office, which has been significantly affected by the EU...

  14. 7 The European Union and the ‘outer core’
    (pp. 154-183)

    This chapter is concerned with the EU’s impact upon, and the European policy-making patterns of, the outer core of central government. First, we deal with those departments not considered hitherto. In order to provide some diversity we consider two departments which have been affected by the EU relatively recently – the Home Office and the Ministry of Defence (MoD) – alongside other departments where the impact has been of longer standing but of a lesser order of magnitude. The Home Office and the MoD are the ‘new kids on the block’ of European policy-making in Whitehall. But, as will be seen, they...

  15. 8 Understanding the impact of Europe
    (pp. 184-196)

    This chapter returns to our concern with Europeanisation as manifested through a historical institutionalist analysis. In the first section of the chapter we use historical institutionalism as a way of taking stock of developments. We concentrate on the lessons to be drawn from the preceding four empirical chapters. The nature and dimensions of the changes that have taken place are examined and we isolate any critical moments and consider which of these might be defined as critical junctures when a new pathway was taken. We examine the extent of transformation at these points – whether the change is incremental or transformative...

  16. 9 Whitehall in comparative context
    (pp. 197-214)

    Thus far in our study we have explored the impact of EU membership on UK central government in isolation from other member states. In this chapter we have two objectives. First, by comparing the experiences of other member states we seek to give a clearer profile to the distinctive features of adjustment in UK central government. Secondly, we aim to build on our framework (Chapter 2) and explanatory model (Chapter 8) to offer a comparative approach to exploring the Europeanisation of member state institutions. The chapter is divided into four sections. In the first, the UK response to Europeanisation is...

  17. 10 Conclusion
    (pp. 215-226)

    In Chapter 1 we set out our research aims and prospectus. Our primary objective has been to provide an authoritative account of the impact of EU membership on the practice of government in Whitehall. In order to achieve this we have examined EU related changes in Whitehall from the events surrounding the first application to join in 1961 through to the end of the Blair premiership in 2007. Our time-frame of more than 45 years has enabled us to address the temporality of UK central government’s adaptation to the EU – both across Whitehall and more specifically within individual departments. Our...

  18. References
    (pp. 227-240)
  19. Index
    (pp. 241-248)