By Martin Rhodes, Paul Heywood, Vincent Wright (eds.)
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Extra info for Developments in West European Politics
There has been an ever widening gap between economic and political integration (sometimes described as a conflict between 'negative' and 'positive' integration) as political realities only slowly adjust to the growing Europeanisation (and internationalisation) of economic forces. It is the weakness of the European political system - where agreement on the abolition of barriers has been much easier than the creation of new 30 Economic Integration and the Nation-State political or social structures - that partly accounts for the shift in the balance of power from the state to the market (Tsoukalis, 1997).
In contrast, skilful politicians have learnt that they can 'cut slack', that is, use international commitments to loosen constraints imposed on them by legislatures, interests groups, or other domestic actors (Moravcsik, 1994). With the inclusion of the 'economic convergence criteria' in the Maastricht Treaty, for example, the need to stick with the European 'pack' has been invoked repeatedly to justify budgetary cuts that circumstances made necessary in any case. All this, of course, is bound to have effects on the way European affairs are conducted at the national level, especially since the Treaties multiply the points of contact among institutions.
If only for reasons of time, it has become impossible for foreign ministries to monopolise contacts abroad: instead, one has seen line departments setting up ad hoc structures for handling the external aspect of their policies. As a result, 'bureaucratic fragmentation', once seen as the special feature of domestic affairs (Rosenau, 1967), is nowadays equally characteristic of the foreign relations of states. While this phenomenon affects the whole of international relations, it is a fortiori even more characteristic of the EU, since interdependence is much more pronounced there.
Developments in West European Politics by Martin Rhodes, Paul Heywood, Vincent Wright (eds.)