Managing Europe fro an Irish perspective: Critical junctures and the increasing formalisation of the core executive

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Series Details Vol.85, No.1, 2007, p167-188
Publication Date 2007
ISSN 0033-3298
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This article analyses the management of European Union (EU) business by the Irish core executive. More specifically, it investigates the demands placed by EU membership on the Irish system of public administration and how the system has responded to these demands. Employing an institutionalist analytical framework, the article maps the formal and informal organizational and procedural devices or structures used to manage EU affairs in Ireland, as well as dissecting the key relationships that govern this management process and the role of the domestic agents actively involved in the EU’s governance structure, the cadre or boundary managers. The article also explores in a dynamic way the development of the capacity for the management of EU affairs in Ireland over time. Using the concepts of path dependence and critical junctures, we illuminate how key system-management decisions became locked-in over time and we isolate the triggers for significant adaptational change, be they domestic or external. Adaptation to EU business in Ireland was path-dependent and consisted of gradual incremental adjustment. This system of flexible adaptation generally served Ireland well as the EU’s policy regime expanded and evolved, but in response to the shock rejection of the Nice Treaty by the electorate in 2001, significant formalization of the Irish system occurred with the establishment of new processes and rules for managing relations between the core executive and the EU.

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