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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 5. A View from Cardiff 107


CHAPTER 5 A View from Cardiff Introduction This chapter focuses an the Welsh experience of engagement in the UK's EU policy formulation process under devolution. The original status of the National Assembly for Wales as a corporate body meant there were considerable structural differences between the Scottish and Welsh devolved institutions. The chapter begins by considering the involvement of the Welsh Assembly Government, originally designated as the Assembly Cabinet but referred to here as WAG, and officials in the policy formulation process, before considering the role and contribu- tions of both the plenary Assembly and its European and External Affairs Committee. Under the Government of Wales Act 1998, there was no legal separation between Cabinet and Assembly. The Assembly, and its committees, were not initially designed to scrutinise the activities of the Cabinet. Rather the legislative and executive functions were combined in a single body, an arrangement that created friction between the different roles (Osmond, 2000: 37-39) and an effective division rapidly emerged between the two out of both political and operational motivations. Therefore the roles and experience of WAG and of the plenary Assembly will be considered separately. The Executive Arm: the Welsh Assembly Government and Its Officials This section will begin by considering the EU-related activities of Cabinet Ministers, before examining the role of the "home" team (the European and External Affairs Division), the "away" team (the Brussels representative office) and the sectoral policy divisions. After the May 1999 election, Alun Michael, leader of the Welsh La- bour...

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