Informal division of labour in the EU

Together with Karoline Van den Brande, I published an article in Journal of European Public Policy in which we analyse the informal division of labour that takes place in EU policy-making processes in the context of international environmental negotiations.

We indeed argue that the European Union’s external environmental policy-making is often characterized by informal division of labour between member states. The article focuses on informal arrangements in the EU co-ordination and representation processes with regard to the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) and international climate negotiations. Whereas the rotating Presidency is formally in charge of leading the internal EU co-ordination and representing the EU externally, we see that in practice an informal system is used, in which member states and Commission officials informally ‘take the lead’. Based upon new-institutionalist insights, the article argues that four functional reasons explain the informality in the EU’s external environmental policy-making: burden sharing; expertise pooling; involving member states; and guaranteeing continuity. Moreover, once the informal arrangement is in place, actors in the EU keep using it because they act path-dependently and because it is considered the most appropriate way to act in many international environmental negotiations.

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