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Devolution, Asymmetry and Europe

Multi-Level Governance in the United Kingdom


Rosanne Palmer

The process of devolution in the United Kingdom (UK) established new institutions at the sub-state level with a range of legislative and executive competencies. Yet many of these devolved powers also have a European Union (EU) dimension, whilst EU policy remains a formally reserved power of the UK central government.
This book explores how this multi-level relationship has been managed in practice, examining the participation of the devolved Scottish and Welsh institutions in the domestic process of formulating the UK’s EU policy positions during their first four-year term. It also places their experiences in a broader comparative framework by drawing upon the experiences of multi-level governance in practice in other Member States of the EU.


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CHAPTER 4. A View from Edinburgh 75


CHAPTER 4 A View from Edinburgh Introduction This chapter will examine the roles of the devolved Scottish institu- tions in the UK's EU policy formulation process. It will begin by con- sidering the level and quality of the involvement of Scottish Executive Ministers and their officials in EU policy-making, before considering evidence of the involvement of both the plenary Scottish Parliament and its European and External Relations Committee with EU policy issues. The evidence presented will also consider the question of whether a party political dimension can be discerned in the debate over European engagement. Executive and Officials The term "Scottish Executive" refers to both Scottish Ministers and Deputy Ministers and to the civil servants who comprise the policy departments of the Executive. This section will begin by considering the activities of the Ministers and Deputy Ministers, before addressing the role of SE civil servants, looking at the work of the External Relations Division, the SE EU Office and the SE functional departments. This approach will allow for an examination of the levels of engagement of the Executive with EU issues, providing evidence as to the effectiveness of the framework for the management of intra-state relations discussed in the preceding chapter. The Role of Scottish Ministers The first Scottish Executive administration was formed in 1999 by a Labour-Liberal Democrat coalition agreement, a pattern that was re- peated following the second devolved elections in 2003. Their key task is policy development and delivery in all devolved policy areas (Burrows, 1999: 60)...

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