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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 13: Backing into the future? informality and the proliferation of governance modes (and policy participants) in the EU

Daniel Wincott


1 Daniel Wincott INTRODUCTION The contributions in this book ask a host of important questions about the EU. From a variety of perspectives on aspects of the EU, the chapters show us that if we are to make sense of EU processes we must understand their informal dimensions. In these concluding remarks I turn to three main questions. First, briefly, is ‘informal governance’ a particularly strong feature of the EU? Second, ‘why now?’ or: ‘is the analysis of ‘informal governance’ timely – perhaps urgent – in the current phase of European integration?’ In the context of answering these two questions some of the main findings of the substantive chapters of this volume will be reviewed. Finally, ‘where next?’ or: ‘in what direction is (or should?) the EU be moving?’ Although rarely presented in these terms, one underlying thrust of the Commission’s White Paper on Governance (2001b), which has been continued in the work of the Convention on the Future of Europe, is to formalize various more or less informal practices and modes of policy-making that have grown up around the Union’s core and most formal procedures. It is with these processes of partial formalization – and to a lesser extent related attempts to formalize the interaction between the European institutions and civil society organizations – that I am particularly concerned here. My reflections on this topic are inevitably tentative, having something of the quality of stargazing. None the less, I seek to ground them in recent debates and discussions within...

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