Explaining variation in the role of the EU Council Secretariat in first and second pillar policy-making

H. Dijkstra*

*Corresponding author for this work

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This article explains variation in the role of the Council Secretariat in first and second pillar policy-making. While the Council Secretariat started in both pillars as a facilitator of decision-making, it has been delegated additional tasks in foreign policy: from providing content expertise to representation. Such functions would normally have gone to the European Commission, yet in the sensitive domain of foreign policy the member states have preferred their own secretariat. This has implications in terms of agency. Due to its additional tasks, the Council Secretariat has more bureaucratic resources in the second pillar. While its activities furthermore used to be restricted to the decision-making phase, it is now also playing a role in the agenda-shaping and implementation of European foreign policy. These additional bureaucratic resources and opportunities not only impact on the Council Secretariat's political influence in the second pillar, but also on its strategies to promote its preferences.

Original languageEnglish
Article number922332328
Pages (from-to)527-544
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of European Public Policy
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 18 May 2010


  • Common Foreign and Security Policy
  • Council Secretariat
  • European Union
  • delegation
  • principal-agent
  • rational choice institutionalism

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