Politics and policy making at the 1996-1997 European Union Intergovernmental Conference
The thesis analyses the negotiations at the 1996-97 Intergovernmental Conference (IGC) of the European Union (EU) and outlines an array of ideas, interests and issues at stake for the actors involved. The thesis has three objectives: (1) to explain the 1996-97 IGC negotiations which led to the Amsterdam Treaty, (2) to identify the key players throughout this process and (3) to examine the concept and characteristics of the EU IGC. This thesis aims to provide both breadth and depth in its analysis, presenting an overview of almost all the significant topics on the IGC agenda while focusing on three major issue areas: institutional reform. Justice and Home Affairs (JHA) and Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP). At the same it concentrates on the governments of Britain, France and Germany, while outlining the positions of all other governments and the European institutions. The thesis has three basic lines of argumentation. The first argues that the 1996-97 IGC was an incremental process where member governments often had poorly defined objectives, leaving the process to drift along with little direction for the greater part of the sixteen months. In turn governments either drifted into agreement without being fully aware of the consequences of their decisions, or they postponed taking decisions on difficult and divisive issues until a future IGC or the post-negotiation phase. The second argument relates to the key players in the IGC process. While all member governments played a role in the IGC process the most influential actor was the Dutch Presidency, followed by the Irish Presidency and the French, British and German governments. Given that the Presidencies played such an important role it is also possible to gain some insight to the 'behind the scenes' role of the Council Secretariat. Finally, there were also occasions when the Commission also proved influential. The third strand of argumentation relates to the concept of the IGC, arguing that since the first Conference the IGC has evolved, being gradually institutionalised into the European Union.