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The Ethnic Conflict Research Digest

2000, Vol. 3 No. 2 .


Policy Making and Diversity in Europe: Escape from Deadlock
Adrienne Heritier

Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999
120pp. Index. Bibl. Hb.: 35.00; ISBN 0-5216-5296-0. Pb.: 11.95; ISBN 0-5216-5384-3



The current debate within the European Union with regard to institutional reform means that Prof Heritier's discussion is not only timely but useful for scholars. Those interested in policy making in the EU, either from the point of view of the academic or the practitioner, will find this an accessible and worthwhile addition to the literature. The focus of Heritier's study is subterfuge, by which he means the policy strategies and patterns that allow EU institutions to work. These institutions must work in an arena where the actors (member states, supranational institutions and interest groups) have diverse interests and where decision making procedures are consensual. Heriter firstly examines the issue of deadlock with EU policy making before considering a numver of theoretical perspectives. He considers bargaining theory, sociological organisational theory and inter-organisational theory and how they suggest stalemate can be avoided. Heritier then considers four general policy areas and specific policies within these. The four areas are market-making policies (transport and telecommunications policies), provision of collective goods and reduction of externalities (environmental policy), redistributive marketing-correcting policies (regional and social policy) and distributive market-correcting policies (research and technology policy). The two aspects of the book are then brought together in a final chapter that presents plausible arguments as to how stalemate is avoided in the above policy areas. He himself states that he does not go as far as testing propositions. This is perhaps the subject of a forthcoming project. In examining the above policy areas, Heritier argues that deadlock is the normal case in EU policy making. He concludes by considering three possible implications of subterfuge for the EU. The first is that subterfuge is allowed to develop as before and the gap between 'formal' and 'informal' processes is allowed to widen. The second, and least plausible possibility, is to abolish subterfuge. This is unlikely given the current obstacles to institutional reform and the fact of diversity between actors. The final response is to allow a limited, piecemeal formal response to policy escape routes. Heritier concludes that 'given the likelihood of an enlarged and ever more diverse Union in the future, the pressure to develop an architecture which allows for diversity under the roof of 'a common European home' would appear to be more urgent than ever'. (p.98)


Fiachra Kennedy; Dept of Government, University College,



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