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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 6. A Central Government Perspective 137


CHAPTER 6 A Central Government Perspective Introduction This chapter will examine the reactions of central government offi- cials to the changes introduced in the process of formulating EU policy positions as a consequence of devolution. The experiences of UK central government officials based in both London and Brussels will be consid- ered to further enhance understanding of the impact of devolution on the UK's EU policy formulation process. Evidence of any resistance to the involvement of the devolved administrations in the policy process will be sought, as will any indications that new tensions have emerged in the relationship, or that existing, pre-devolution, tensions were exacerbated after 1999. As noted previously, the Acts left EU affairs as a reserved compe- tence of the UK central government. This created a contradictory situa- tion as responsibilities which were now devolved within the UK had also largely been transferred to the EU during the European integration process and the devolved administrations were thus responsible for their implementation. Therefore, the development of coherent EU policy positions necessitated some form of vertical co-ordination between the different levels. The sections of this chapter will concentrate upon the key players in this process as already identified: lead policy departments, the Cabinet Office and the Cabinet committee system, the FCO and UKRep. Changes to the roles of these institutions and the impact that devolution had on the way they formulated EU policy will be considered, as will apparent differences between the intensity of engagement of the two devolved administrations....

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