Many people have proposals they would like to see considered seriously, alternatives they would like to see become part of the set from which choices are eventually made. They try out their ideas on others in the policy community. Some proposals are rapidly discarded as somehow kooky; others are taken more seriously and survive, perhaps in some altered form. But in the policy primeval soup, quite a wide range of ideas is possible and is considered to some extent. The range at this stage is considerably more inclusive than the set of alternatives that are actually weighed during a shorter period of final decision-making. Many, many things are possible here.
One of the main attributes of the nation state is the ability to make 'authoritative allocations' for society. In practice this means an ability to formulate and implement public policy programmes governing the operation of society. Whether the European Union (EU) can be considered a fully fledged state is not the concern of this chapter. However, it is beyond dispute that the EU has acquired for itself at least the policy-making attributes of a modern state, across an increasingly wide range of policy sectors. Indeed, much of the criticism of the EC during the Maastricht debates was centred upon the alleged 'excessive' policy-making role of the EC in general and of the Commission in particular. The anti-Maastricht argument was that the EC had become a 'nanny' state, over-regulating the economic and social life of member states. In practice, the erosion of national sovereignty means the erosion of the power of the member states to decide exclusively much of their public policy via domestic policy-making processes and institutions. Empirically, it is beyond dispute that the EU level is now the level at which a high proportion (possibly 60 per cent) of what used to be regarded as purely domestic policy-making takes place. The locus of decision-and therefore power-has shifted. A much more complex structure of policy-making has developed, encompassing a much wider range of public and private policy actors. All of these actors-especially national governments-are having to adjust to the empirical reality of this situation. They have all 'lost' some power in a common pooling of policy-making sovereignty. For those European nations who are members of the EU (and for many who are not), at least two policy-making systems now co-habit-domestic and EU policy systems.
Though state-like in at least this key attribute, the EU is, of course, a complex and unique policy-making system. Its multi-national and neo federal nature, the extreme openness of
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Publication information: Book title: European Union: Power and Policy-Making. Contributors: Jeremy J. Richardson - Editor. Publisher: Routledge. Place of publication: New York. Publication year: 1996. Page number: 3.
This material is protected by copyright and, with the exception of fair use, may not be further copied, distributed or transmitted in any form or by any means.