Malterud, Tore Chr. (2003) The Challenge of Being an "Active Observer": Some Experiences from Norway. EIPASCOPE, 2003 (2). pp. 1-6.
[Opening reflections]. I would like to start by asking "what makes it so special for politicians and civil servants to work at an EU level?" How does it differ from working in other international organisations or in the public sector at home? There are some significant differences. In addition to the workingstyle, the roles and the interaction between the political and permanent administrative levels are different. In a well-established democracy there is a clear division of power and distinction of roles between the government, the permanent public administration and the parliament. The government proposes and the parliament decides. Proposals are presented according to internal rules and procedures, and decisions are taken according to the constitution. Time is devoted to evaluating the consequences of different actions and defining the political implications. Here we clearly see the first main difference between EU and national politics: namely, that when working on EU matters Member States face an externally imposed timetable. Only to a limited extent is it possible to influence the tempo, the rules of procedure and the agendas of meetings. Unless, of course, a Member States is in the "lucky" situation of holding the Presidency.
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