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In the service of the European Union: The role of the presidency in negotiating the Amsterdam Treaty 1995-97
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Government.
2000 (English)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This thesis investigates the role and influence of the Presidency of the Council of Ministers in European Union negotiations - to what extent the Presidency can actually exert leadership and to what extent the office-holder can advance national priorities.

The study addresses these questions by examining the activities and achievements of the Spanish, Italian, Irish and Dutch presidencies in the prenegotiation and negotiation processes in the intergovernmental conference (IGC) 1996-97, which resulted in the Amsterdam Treaty. What emerges is a detailed look at how the negotiations were conducted and the results show that the all presidencies certainly worked in the service of the Union. They did so by performing a wide range of tasks designed to reduce complexity and make preferences converge, from the setting of schedules and agendas to the drafting of treaty texts. In these ways the Presidency could make a vital contribution to the process. Indeed, negotiation centred on the Presidency - it was the hub in the process - and its actions can help explain why an outcome was reached at all. As for the extent of leadership, the acceptance of and trust in the Presidency office was most obvious in its managing and consensus-building functions, whereas the role was more relative with regard to agenda setting. The presidencies were all in some ways restricted by the position of the member states and the expectations on the chairman to stay neutral. They did nevertheless enjoy a certain room for manoeuvre, allowing the Presidency to give special attention to favoured policies or draft solutions based on own priorities. The prospect of success for such attempts was typically dependent on how well they corresponded with majority views, butalso on the Presidency's creativity, audacity, sheer perseverance and timing in the process.

The office of the Presidency must thus be considered an important platform for influence, and needs to be more widely taken into account in studies of European Union decision-making. The study therefore ends with a call for more research on the subject, above all to learn more about its relationship to the Commission and what factors can condition its role and influence in different negotiating positions.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis , 2000. , 233 p.
Skrifter utgivna av Statsvetenskapliga föreningen i Uppsala, ISSN 0346-7538 ; 137
Keyword [en]
Political science, European Union, Presidency of the Council of Ministers, negotiation, leadership, managing, setting agendas, building consensus, advancing national priorities
Keyword [sv]
National Category
Political Science (excluding Public Administration Studies and Globalization Studies)
Research subject
Political Science
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-461ISBN: 91-554-4730-9OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-461DiVA: diva2:165223
Public defence
2000-05-31, Brusewitzsalen, Gamla torget 6, Uppsala, Uppsala, 13:15 (English)
Available from: 2000-05-10 Created: 2000-05-10 Last updated: 2010-01-13Bibliographically approved

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