By Paul M. Heywood, Erik Jones, Martin Rhodes
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Extra resources for Developments in West European Politics 2
The central instrument for this closed form of policy coordination is the set of annual broad economic policy guidelines (BEPGs) adopted by the Council of Ministers and discussed in European Council. These guidelines contain both an assessment of the general economic performance of the EU and specific recommendations for each member state to follow in the interests of policy coordination. However, should the member state in question choose not to follow the guidelines there is little that the European Council or Council of Ministers can do.
Broadcasting remains the most nationally-based of the policy areas, but the information society more generally is something that is being developed ‘beyond’ traditional nation-bound authorities and cultures. Of course not all challenges are technological and some are distinctly human. By the same token, not all responses are necessarily centred on the institutions of the state. In his chapter on European immigration policies, Christian Joppke outlines how EU member states have tried to pass the buck on immigration control not just to higher (supranational) levels, but also to lower (regional) levels – but without actually resolving any of the major tensions that exist between these levels of authority or between the ambitions of stemming and soliciting migrants.
The Amsterdam Treaty also provides the European Council with a coherent means to represent the CFSP to the outside world. The designation of the Secretary General of the Council of Ministers ‘to exercise the function of High Representative for the common foreign and security policy’ (TEU, Article 18, para. 3) helps to overcome the problems that arise as a result of the six-monthly rotation in the presidency of the Council of Ministers and therefore also in the European Council. Thus, while technically the representative of the European Union remains the head of state or government of whichever member state holds the Council presidency, for practical purposes the European Council can rely on the High Representative to act as the visible face of the Union from one presidency to the next.