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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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POSTSCRIPT. Governmental Incongruenceand the 2007 Elections 173


POSTSCRIPT Governmental Incongruence and the 2007 Elections In my view, just as Flanders leads for Belgium at the Fisheries Council, so should Scotland lead for the UK. First Minister Alex Salmond (Scottish Executive, 11 July 2007). Speaking at Scotland House in Brussels to mark the 90th anniversary of the Battle of Passchendaele, the SNP First Minister Alex Salmond unambiguously asserted Scotland's claim to lead for the UK on fisheries policy. The May 2007 elections to the devolved institutions finally created the circumstances which had previously been identified as the greatest challenge to managing intra-UK intergovernmental relations post-devolution: governmental incongruence. In Scotland the SNP formed a minority administration having gained one more seat in the Scottish Parliament elections than the Labour Party. In Wales, Plaid Cymru, the Welsh nationalists, entered into a coalition agreement with the Welsh Labour Party. Although the Labour Party remained the largest party in the National Assembly for Wales, with 26 seats, they were four seats short of an effective majority. After coalition talks to renew the 2000-2003 coalition between Labour and the Liberal Democrats failed, and the so-called "rainbow" coalition of Plaid, the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats also collapsed, Labour and Plaid, the two largest parties in the Assembly, agreed the "One Wales" coalition programme in July 2007. However, Labour held the most posts in the new Welsh Assembly Government, a situation likely to continue facilitating relations between WAG and the UK central government. Inevitably, therefore, most attention focused upon the nature of the relationship...

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