Devolution is a peculiarly British term and it was introduced in the nineteenth century to resolve a problem that is characteristically (but not uniquely) British. It is also a response to the spatial rescaling of economic and social systems; to shifting responsibilities of government and the need for new governing instruments; and to pressures for territorial autonomy. Since devolution is a general term covering a range of constitutional arrangements, it is difficult to break it down into specific models, yet two broad types can be discerned. The division of powers is described. Scotland possesses a high degree of legislative devolution with the full set of parliamentary, executive, and administrative institutions and a broad set of responsibilities as a general-purpose government. Its relationship with the United Kingdom is a quasi-federal one, like the Spanish autonomous communities. The devolution settlement in the United Kingdom is unstable.
This article reports on analysis and assumptions underpinning the prevailing analysis and prescription (diagnosis and cure) for European economic reform within British politics. These two discursive framings inform and shape the relationship between British politics and the European political economy. The article also deals with the clash of capitalisms and social models within the implementation, successes, and failings of the ‘Lisbon agenda’. The relationship between the welfare state regime and economic performance is then explored, before considering attempts to tackle unemployment through ‘flexicurity’ reforms to labour market institutions, and the framing and content of macroeconomic policy. The UK model was successful in terms of employment between 1997 and 2007, but this success has been bought at what many consider too high a price in terms of social inequality. The Lisbon process is insufficient in the mechanisms to induce the convergence it exhorts.
This article uses a temporal perspective to fully understand the nature of change in the British government's relations with the European Union (EU). It first examines the reason for Britain's awkwardness, concentrating on the period 1987–97. Moreover, it attempts to document and account for a number of gradual changes that has taken place in Britain's relations with the EU over the last decade or so. It specifically deals with the alterations to the international and European context that has benefited British diplomacy since 1997. The depoliticization of Europe at the domestic level reflects in part a conscious strategy by political agents at the top of the Blair government. It has been argued that a subtle change has taken place in the British government's relations with the EU, and that this trend is the result of a complex interplay of institutional and agential factors.
This article outlines recent scholarship on the influences of Europeanization on British politics to evaluate what has been learned to date. The discussion provides a brief survey of research straddling policy, political actors, and institutions. The article also argues that, though Britain generally does indeed represent a distinctive case, the evidence of recent literature signals that Europeanization has had a far more complex and varied character than popular images might suggest, and that there has been change over time. Europeanization is the study of the interrelationship between the domestic and the European Union (EU) system. The agenda for Europeanization research in the UK is broad and, whilst scholarship to date has dwelt on particular cases, it has done so to varying degrees of empirical depth. There remain major gaps and limitations.