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Informal Governance in the European Union

Edited by Thomas Christiansen and Simona Piattoni

This book addresses an issue of paramount importance concerning the politics of the European Union: aspects of governance and policy making in the EU that are labelled ‘informal’. Much of the literature on the EU focuses on the formal facets of EU politics, but uniquely, the subject matter within this book deals with informal aspects such as: the role of personal relationships, the presence of non-hierarchical policy-networks and non-institutional channels of interest representation, and the relevance of the unwritten rules and routines which govern these aspects of EU politics.
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Chapter 2: Informal governance: improving EU democracy?

Alex Warleigh


Alex Warleigh INTRODUCTION: INFORMAL GOVERNANCE AND POLITICAL SOCIALIZATION IN THE EUROPEAN UNION The goal of this chapter is to ask what contribution, if any, informal governance can make to the EU’s democratization process. This is an important question because so much of the EU’s policy-making process relies, and is likely to continue to rely, on informal governance, defined in the introduction to this volume as pertaining to non- or incompletely codified procedures of interaction and decision between actors, and non-publicly enforced routines and relations between actors. Thus, an important part of the ‘normative turn’ in EU studies (Bellamy and Castiglione 2000) is the need to address this question as part of the investigation of what kind of democracy is appropriate for the EU. My approach here is empirical rather than strictly theoretical – I attempt to investigate two instances of informal governance in the EU and assess what contribution they have made to its democratization. Decision-making in the EU, at least in the most traditional areas of policymaking, is a dynamic process which demands that actors from different institutions and interest groups collaborate and compete to secure the outcomes they desire. As I point out elsewhere (Warleigh 2001b), the EU has no single policy-making process, using different decision rules and policy styles according to both the policy area and the stage in its development. Because the EU is a ‘fused’ polity – that is, one which causes the adaptation and transformation of its member states rather than replaces or subsumes them (Wessels...

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