National representatives or autonomous experts? A case study of the Norwegian participation in the EU Civil Protection Mechanism
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Norway has had benefits from participating in the EU Civil Protection Mechanism (Union Mechanism), a network for civil protection at the European level that includes all EU member states, Norway, Iceland, Montenegro and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. The civil protection efforts of the European Union have been understudied due to the incoherent nature of its efforts. This case study address a gap in the literature, and investigates, by way of interviews of civil servants and analysis of documents, the type of network governance the Union Mechanism constitutes, if this has changed with amended legislation, and whether or not network participation has had any effects on Norwegian civil servant identity and role perceptions as a consequence of interactions with other network actors. The findings suggest that he Union Mechanism constitutes a participant-governed network with lead-agency traits accorded the European Commission. Overall network activity has increased with amended legislation, but there appears to be limited implications on role-perceptions and identities of civil servants representing Norwegian interest in the Union Mechanism. The findings reveal that there is a Nordic bloc, and the perceptions of being Nordic" within the framework of the Union Mechanism is recurring among civil servants, who report that they pursue common Nordic solutions in network participation, and coordinate ahead of meetings.