France and the European decision-making process: the ‘Secrétariat général des affaires européennes’ at the heart of Paris-Brussels relations

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The specificity of the European Union’s decision-making process, characterized by the absence of its own administrative network, needs constant cooperation between European institutions and national administrations, from the elaboration to the performance of rules defined in Brussels. In France, this mission was entrusted to the “Secrétariat général du Comité interministériel pour les questions de coopération économique européenne” (SGCI ; general interministerial department for European economic cooperation affairs) created in 1948, which became the “Secrétariat général des Affaires européennes” (SGAE ; general department of European Affairs) by a decree on October 17th 2005. Under the authority of the Prime Minister, it is in charge of coordinating ministries in order to define the official French position concerning European topics. The SGAE, although it is still not very well-known, lies at the core of Paris-Brussels relations: its action enables a real French participation to the European decision-making process, from community acts drafts to their implementation at the national level.

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