The Europeanisation of Whitehall

UK central government and the European Union

Authors: Simon Bulmer and Martin Burch

It is some thirty-five years since the United Kingdom joined what is now called the European Union. What has been the impact of the EU on UK central government? Has it been transformed or merely adapted to new pressures and requirements? This book explores the ‘Europeanisation’ of the work of civil servants and ministers and how they engage with the EU. Drawing on fresh empirical evidence—including interviews with over 200 serving and retired officials and ministers—it offers a comprehensive analysis of the spreading impact of European integration across government. The study is placed in the context of political divisions over the European Union but the book outlines the often neglected way in which the EU has transformed the business of government. This account charts the process from the Macmillan government's 1961 application to join the European Communities through to the end of Tony Blair's premiership. The book examines the character and timing of responses across government, covering the core government departments and also those more recently affected, such as the Ministry of Defence. It argues that central government has organized itself efficiently to deal with the demands of EU membership despite the often controversial party-political divisions over Europe. However, in placing the book's findings in comparative context, the conclusion is that the effectiveness of UK governments in the EU has been less striking.

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