Secrecy in Europe: Contestation and Co-optation

Guri Rosén discusses the reasons for variation in the governance of secrecy in EU external relations in this article of the West European Politics.


The question posed in this article is how to explain that the governance of secrecy in EU external relations varies. While the Common Foreign and Security Policy appears to retain its secretive character, the EU’s external trade policy has recently seen a shift towards more transparency. This article argues that to understand this variation, one has to take into account the institutional power of the European Parliament as well as the extent to which the rules and practices of secrecy are perceived as legitimate. The empowerment of the Parliament in trade means that it has had recent success in pushing back secrecy in this area. However, a general finding is that the majority of parliamentarians seem only rarely to question the executive’s governance of secrecy in external relations. The analysis shows that perceptions of legitimacy are crucial to account for different secrecy regimes – a finding that is likely to be relevant for the understanding of secrecy in foreign policy beyond the EU.

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Guri Rosén
Contestation and Co-optation: Why Secrecy in EU External Relations Varies

West European Politics, Online, January 2018

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Published Jan. 15, 2018 1:40 PM - Last modified Jan. 29, 2022 10:44 AM