Commission Versus Council Secretariat: An Analysis of Bureaucratic Rivalry in European Foreign Policy

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Series Details Vol.14, No.3, August 2009, p431-450
Publication Date August 2009
ISSN 1384-6299
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Abstract: The European Commission and the EU Council Secretariat support the Member States in the conduct of European foreign policy, yet they have not always been able to get along. This article gives an overview of their inter-institutional relations across history, foreign policy instruments (declarations, crisis management joint actions and representation) and regions. The main argument is that the relationship between both institutions is generally cooperative, but that tensions do arise in a limited number of cases where the roles of the Commission and the Council Secretariat are unclear, perceived to overlap or in competition. In these instances, they have generally found a modus vivendi and their inter-institutional relations have subsequently improved. Such informal arrangements do not address, however, the underlying structural problems – that the Council Secretariat challenges the Commission’s political and informational role in the context of foreign policy. Differences between both institutions are therefore still regularly displayed. This continues to undermine EU consistency and its effectiveness in international relations.

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