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Formal Intergovernmental Alliances in the European Union: Disappearing or Still Alive?

Klemenčič, Manja (2011) Formal Intergovernmental Alliances in the European Union: Disappearing or Still Alive? [Conference Proceedings] (Submitted)

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    The leading opinion-making newspaper The Economist suggested during the time of the Constitutional Treaty negotiations that ‘there are no more fixed and reliable alliances in the EU. Countries team up with each other, depending on issue and circumstances’ (The Economist, February 6, 2003: 3). This was a daring suggestion in view of the history of long-term strategic relationships within Europe, especially the Franco-German and the Benelux, which have in the past played leadership role in the establishment and progress of European integration. Former Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, also commented that the Constitutional Treaty negotiations have shown a ‚renaissance of bilateralism‛ in the new Europe: ‘With each new issue we are likely to see changing ad hoc coalitions of member states’ (De Hoop Scheffer 2003: 1). Similarly, Lord Kerr in his address at the Center for European Studies, Harvard University (11 July 2003) suggested that ‘*a+lliances [were] increasingly a matter of convenience; we can expect more of a wide-spread promiscuity among member states’. Do such assertions stand up to scholarly investigation? Is there any empirical evidence to suggest that the existing formal alliances in Europe are disappearing? Analysing the case of the Visegrád Group this paper answers negatively. It argues that the strength of cooperation within formal alliances is not to be evaluated based on their coalitional cooperation in the end games of EU negotiations, which tend to attract most popular attention. Rather, the questions of viability of formal alliances need to shift from the end-game of EU negotiations to the day-to-day interactions between the lower-end of the government hierarchy, i.e. the government representatives at the technical and lower political level – this is where the vast majority of EU policy agenda is set and majority of policy formulations are agreed upon in the pre-negotiations within the Council working groups. In view of these findings, the paper suggests that the prominent account of ‘two-level games’ by Putnam (1988) which has influenced most of the recent literature on EU negotiations might need to be revised to take into account the ‚third-level‛ negotiations within formal alliances.. The argument introduced is that next to the domestic constituencies and EU-level negotiations, as depicted by Putnam (1988), governments involved in formal alliances also simultaneously negotiate with their alliance partners.

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    Item Type: Conference Proceedings
    Subjects for non-EU documents: Countries > Hungary
    Countries > Poland
    Countries > Slovak Republic
    Countries > Czech Republic
    EU policies and themes > Policies & related activities > political affairs > governance: EU & national level
    Subjects for EU documents: UNSPECIFIED
    EU Series and Periodicals: UNSPECIFIED
    EU Annual Reports: UNSPECIFIED
    Conference: European Union Studies Association (EUSA) > Biennial Conference > 2011 (12th), April 23-25, 2011
    Depositing User: Phil Wilkin
    Official EU Document: No
    Language: English
    Date Deposited: 05 Nov 2019 11:54
    Number of Pages: 21
    Last Modified: 05 Nov 2019 11:54

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