Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Article Review

M.E. Smith
Conforming to Europe:
the domestic impact of EU foreign policy.

Journal of European Public Policy 7:4 October 2000

The author’s purpose is to offer a conceptual framework to organize information exploring the general relationship between EU member state domestic politics and EU foreign policy (614). The author examines the way EU membership ‘Europeanizes’ member states.

CFSP issues condition EU member states to orient foreign policy making, even though foreign policy has always been reserved as a special domain of national governments. Also, EU membership is based on economics, and political cooperation is not required of EU states.

Political cooperation developed in parallel with economic cooperation. But political cooperation was restrained by EU member state reluctance, thus developed its own institutional growth based on
intergovernment bargaining over the issue of political cooperation itself. The growth entailed: creation of a communication network among foreign ministers, political agents and foreign policy specialists; codifying norms; increased involvement of EC actors; and the establishment of policy processes (615).

This development, Smith argues, has gradually worked its way into the domestic politics of EU member states. The norms established reorient states to ‘problem solving’ as opposed to ‘bargaining’ as a style of decision making (615).

Bargaining the author defines as satisfaction of self interests through trade offs. Problem solving involves appeal to common interests. The norms established provided the environment for cooperation.

States engaged in regular communication and consultation before adopting a final position so as not to catch partners by surprise. Establishing this norm lead to an increase in telecomm traffic and real sharing of sensitive information. This fosters a community view on ‘European issues’.

Confidentiality is the second norm guiding CFSP. Third is using consensus to make decisions. This strengthens the smaller states. QMV is an option, but knowing that a state can block a policy, makes discussions less threatening.

The fourth norm is a realization that there are issues considered off limits. Usually, involving unilateral problems (616). This norm prevented discussions of many issues, however, as CFSP developed, this norm has evolved. The gradual expansion of political cooperation now includes previously taboo subjects (617).

EU member state domestic politics have adapted to the CFSP with elite socialization, bureaucratic reorganization, and constitutional change. There has also been an increase in public support for political cooperation.

Elite socialization takes place in a transgovernmental communication network: the COREU telex network, EPC working groups, joint declarations, joint reporting, staff exchanges among foreign ministries and shared embassies. All these have moved the conduct of national foreign policy away from the old nation state model toward amore collective endeavor, a form of high level networking with tranformationalist effects and even more potential (Hill and Wallace 1996).

Visible bureaucratic adaptation to political cooperation appears in the national foreign policy ministries. Political cooperation becomes a national priority. Member states are responsible for common positions, and act to the benefit of the EU. New national officials are approved, expansion of diplomatic corps occurs, along with administrative reorganization and expansion of foreign ministries (620).

A main point of the article is the responsibility that comes with membership. The EU Presidency of Spain in 1989 was the biggest task ever undertaken by the government and Spanish administration (Barbe, 1996). EU member state foreign ministries have been able to assert political control over external relations due to the need to coordinate foreign policies between The EC and the EPC. Small states also benefit from large state presence outside Europe.

The EU also has been prepared to aid in nation building. When Greece held the Presidency in 1983, its civil service, state bureaucracy, and domestic legal system were underdeveloped. Spain created a General Secretary for Foreign Policy to make its Foreign Ministry compatible with EPC (Barbe).

EU states have been willing to reorient national legal structures to the demands of European integration (624). States have engaged in constitutional debates, and neutral states have had to consider positions on security and defense issues to justify accession and pacify electorates.

Public support for political cooperation is an area of interest for European citizens. The author notes that much of the growth of support is owing to the issue appearing on a national agenda, citizens going from unconcerned opinions to pro-European opinions.

The constant process of institution building at the EU level has resonated back to the foreign policy culture of the EU states (628). The obligations become part of the foreign policy processes of the states.

The article was written before the historic expansion of the EU in 2004. The norms established and described in the article have proven capable of providing for the problem free accession of the ten new members in 2004, and Bulgaria and Romania in 2007.

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