Working Paper 25
Decision-Making in Security and Defence Policy. Towards Supranational Intergovernmentalism?
For scholars and practitioners of European politics alike, the distinction between supranationalism and intergovernmentalism has always been fundamental. This distinction has underpinned the various schools of European integration theory, just as it has remained crucial for European governments keen to demonstrate that the member states remain in charge of key policy areas. Nowhere is this considered to be more central than in the area of foreign and security policy, which has consciously been set within the rigid intergovernmental framework of Pillar Two of the Maastricht Treaty and, under the Lisbon Treaty, remains subject to the unanimity rule. And yet, scholarship on the major decision-making agencies of the foreign and security policy of the EU suggests that the distinction is not only blurred but increasingly meaningless. This paper demonstrates that, in virtually every case, decisions are shaped and even taken by small groups of relatively well-socialized officials in the key committees acting in a mode which is as close to supranational as it is to intergovernmental. The political control of foreign and security policy, which is considered sacrosanct by member state governments, is only rarely exercised by politicians at the level of the European Council or Council of Ministers.