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Aflevering 1, 1987 Alle samenvattingen uitklappen

    In foreign policy-making there exists a tension between what the executive is prepared to do and what parliament or public interest groups would want it to do. A recent study of domestic pressure on foreignpolicy-making in the Netherlands has shown that there exists a close connection between the success of public interest groups in changing foreign policy behavior and their ability to mobilize parliamentary support for their efforts. That study, entitled Controversies at Home, was based on the results of 16 case-studies of recent controversial foreign policy decisions. Foreign ministries aften use the need for secrecy, coherence and consistency as arguments to resist change. The role of the national parliament in foreign policy-making deserves to be strengthened. In this respect some of the experiences of the United States Congress could be applied to parliaments in other countries. The possibilities are discussed with specific reference to the situation in the Netherlands.

Peter R. Baehr

Access_open De machtsbases van België in de internationale politiek

Auteurs Wilfried Dewachter en Mieke Verminck

    Based on a extensive computation of power capabilities, the position of Belgium in international politics can reliably be assessed. Belgium belongs to a first stratum (N = 21) of followers states. Its best functional fields are international economie relations and those concerning science and technology. A globalisation of all functional fields runs at the expense of its international position. A splitting up of the country would relegate the emerging states, Flanders and Wallonia, to the second more numerous stratum of still less powerfull followers. Whereas a politically unified Europe would mean a participation on a consickrably more powerful level.

Wilfried Dewachter

Mieke Verminck

    This paper presents a quantitative analysis of the influence structure of the Belgian defense policy domain in the 1980s. The Belgian defense domain has a very unequal influence distribution, with only a handful of actors being perceived as very influential. A fairly generalized consensus exists among the relevant actors about who counts or does not count in the domain.

Philippe Manigart

    Who makes decisions concerning defence policy in Belgium? Not the public opinion, because otherwise there would be no Cruise missiles. Not the Parliament, because the parliamentarians only ratify international treaties. Not the Minister of Foreign Affairs, because the Minister of Defence makes decisions without contacting Foreign Affairs. Even the Government as a whole and the Prime Minister do not much take care about the defence policy. The so-called experts concerning defence policy are the militaries, the diplomats and the NATO-bureaucrats. Yet, the political problems with respect to the Atlantic Alliance and the division of the European continent, will constrain the politicians to reconsider the basic options of the policy.

Louis Tobback

Access_open La prise de décision belge en politique extérieure

cohésion, tensions, controle et influences

Auteurs Christian Franck

    Besides classical issues of parliamentary control and pressure groups' influence, coordination between ministers and administrations involved in foreign policy making and harmonization of national foreign policy with external cultural relations led by the french, flemish and german Communities are the major problems belgian foreign policy making has to cope with. Divergences on options or heterogeneity of functional missions (Finance and Third World Cooperation e.g.) require arbitration and cooperative procedures provided by foreign affairs ministerial comitee at the governmental level. Competition for leading role and confrontation of functional paradigms foster «bureaucratic politics» between services. European affairs constitues a major issue for bureaucratic coordination. Attribution to the Communities of assessment power to cultural agreements and reservation to national government of the treaty making power let arise a kind of illogism and a conflict of competences that pragmatic concertation tends to get round. As to parliamentary control, it consists in a greater influence of majority's deputies than in an effective opposition's countervailing power to amend coalition foreign policy. So play pressure groups a role in influencing bilateral much more than multilateral affairs.

Christian Franck

    Many factors have a restraining influence on the decision making and the dynamical function of foreign policy. Next to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, there are the Undersecretary for Foreign Trade and the Undersecretary for Development Co-operation. As a result, there is no continuity in policy making. The division of competences is even problematic for the administration. Since 1980, the communities also have international competences, for instance to ratify treaties. These competences are legal and constitutional, although the Central Government tries to cut them down. The strict application of the legal and constitutional prescriptions should undoubtedly simplify the problems.

Frans Baert

Access_open Taken van Buitenlandse Zaken

Auteurs Philippe de Schoutheete de Tervaerent

    A first comment on the contribution of Professor Franck concerns the fact that the coordination of European alfairs is entrusted to the political section of the Foreign Ministry. This should not be attributed mainly to historical consideration but to the fact that the « paradigma » of that section does not come into conflict with the « paradigma » of other ministries implicated in European affairs. A second comment concerns the difficult relationship in external relations between the Foreign Ministry and the administration of the Communities and Regions in Belgium. The law is open to varying interpretation and a solution can only be found on a pragmatic basis, accepting that problems in international relationsare not always purely cultural or purely political.

Philippe de Schoutheete de Tervaerent

    We know very little about the history of the Belgian contribution to the European Construction from 1945 to the present. That will say that the historiography has to fill a gap, more particularly in the field of therole of leading men and pressure groups. The case of the European League for Economic Cooperation (ELEC) is a good one because it shows the determinant influence of a man (Paul van Zeeland) and its friends (e.g. Joseph Retinger) over the « attentive opinion», not only in Belgium but also in other European countries, at the beginning of the cold war about the so called European Challenge. But the birth and development of the ELEC show also that national problems could deeply influence an international initiative. The opposition of the Socialists in Belgium considerably hindered the international issue of the ELEC.

Michel Dumoulin