Managing Europe from Home: The changing face of European policy-making under Blair and Ahern

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After all, is it not up to the parties in Northern Ireland to sort things out, now that they have their own devolved government?

Ireland profile - Timeline

For nationalists in Northern Ireland, the Irish government was the guarantor of their identity, and for unionists, the UK government was the guarantor. The UK government had the resources and legal authority to frame a carrot and stick strategy to incentivise cooperation in Northern Ireland and the Irish government by the s was seen as having a legitimate right to help carve that strategy, as the protector of the nationalist minority.

Building in that security blanket was seen as crucial to any peace agreement. It was not a woolly aspirational idea, but had a clear process via institutional innovation.

Brexit is the most serious threat to peace in the North and to the union in our lifetime

The Council of Ministers and later the European Council created an obligation that ministers and heads of government frequently meet face-to-face. These formal institutions ensured that consensual decision-making and problem-solving processes evolved and typified EU policy-making, rather than confrontation and zero-sum stalemates. These summits occurred regardless of whether a Labour or Conservative government was in power in the UK, or a Fianna Fail, or Fine Gael- led government was in power in Ireland.

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Because the institutions had formal rules that obliged members to meet, they met regardless of ideology or disagreements. In fact, the transition has been far more laboured, and politics in Northern Ireland is still fragile.


  • Tony Blair.
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Doubtless, sensitivity to Unionist concerns about the Conference has contributed to its weakness. However, the British-Irish strategy of the s and s found ways around political sensitivities. However, the assumption that Strand One suffices to maintain stability has been sorely tested. Brexit seems to be the big bogey-man here. Brexit, with the threat of a new North-South border, clearly most unsettles nationalists.

Tony Blair

However many moderate unionists have no desire to see a return of the physical frontier either, as they know this would create a psychological barrier as well. To double complicate things, the Tory government would be in a minority without the votes of the DUP, a strongly pro-Brexit and anti-nationalist party. The fires of extreme nationalism, which were once seen as a disease of the non-Western world, now infect the heart of the Western world as well. It was first published on the LSE Brexit blog.

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Don't have an account? Having considered the nature and effectiveness of network adaptation under Tony Blair and Bertie Ahern, this final chapter reconnects these important empirical and comparative insights with the wider conceptual debate about the impact of European Union EU membership at the national level.

It employs the innovative strategic-projection model of Europeanisation to examine the extent to which strategic adaptation in the UK and Ireland can be attributed to wider domestic reform processes or to developments at the EU level. In other words, do the changes outlined in this study simply reflect the political decisions and distinctive leadership styles of Blair and Ahern agency or can they be attributed, at least in part, to the shared, longer-term impact of European integration structure.

It considers five potential independent variables: national change agents, domestic administrative opportunity structures, domestic political opportunity structures, technological change, and European integration.

Transcript: Jodidi Lecture by Bertie Ahern | Weatherhead Center for International Affairs

In order to disaggregate the potential EU effect further, the section on European integration is broken down into the four modes of Europeanisation: effective obligation, strategic adaptation, intergovernmental learning, and administrative optimisation. You're not logged in.

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Structure or agency? Measuring the EU effect. Abstract only.