Interministerial Coordination

   

How effectively do informal coordination mechanisms complement formal mechanisms of interministerial coordination?

EUOECD
 
Informal coordination mechanisms generally support formal mechanisms of interministerial coordination.
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Finland
Intersectoral coordination has generally been perceived as an important issue in Finnish politics, but rather few institutional mechanisms have in fact been introduced. One of these is the Iltakoulu (evening session). To a considerable extent, then, coordination proceeds effectively through informal mechanisms. Recent large-scale policy programs have enhanced intersectoral policymaking; additionally, Finland’s membership in the European Union has of course necessitated increased interministerial coordination. Recent research in Finland has only focused tangentially on informal mechanisms, but various case studies suggest that the system of coordination by advisory councils has performed well.
Citations:
Eero Murto, Power Relationship Between Ministers and Civil Servants, pp. 189-208 in Lauri Karvonen, Heikki Paloheimo and Tapio Raunio, eds. The Changing Balance of Political Power in Finland, Stockholm: Santérus Förlag, 2016.
Hungary
The strong formal role of Prime Minister Orbán and his PMO is complemented by informal coordination mechanisms. As the power concentration around Orbán has increased, informal decision-making plays an increasingly dominant role, and the formal mechanisms only serve to legalize and implement these improvised and hastily made decisions. Prime Minister Orbán travels with his personal staff and rules the country by phone calls as a “remote control” that terrifies medium-level politicians and leads to big policy failures in implementations. If the prime minister is not available or not ready or able to decide, issues remain in the air without any decision being made. Orbán regularly brings together officials from his larger circle in order to give instructions. Many decisions originate from these meetings, which subsequently ripple informally through the system before any formal decision is made. These informal coordination mechanisms make rapid decision-making possible. Given the pivotal role of the prime minister, this system encourages anticipative obedience, but also creates a bottleneck in the implementation of decisions and precludes any genuinely efficient feedback.
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Belgium
Belgian governments have typically been broad coalition governments (the current government is more homogeneously right-wing, but still includes four parties), and mechanisms such as the council of ministers were established to enforce effective coordination. It is also important to note that party discipline is strong and party presidents are dominant figures able to enforce coordination both within and across government levels (subnational and national). In addition, some of the larger parties have well-organized study centers that provide extensive policy expertise.

The government agreement, signed at the government-formation stage, operates as an ex ante contract that limits possible deviation once the coalition operates. Once the government is formed, decisions are made collegially, and all government officials must defend the decisions made by the council of ministers. Thus, as long as governmental decisions remain within the boundaries of the government agreement, policy proposals are well coordinated.

Importantly, the last elections produced highly asymmetric coalitions at the federal and regional levels. The federal government must be composed of the same number of Dutch and French-speaking ministers. However, only one French-speaking party, the liberal-right MR, is part of that government. The coalition in Flanders is made up of all the Flemish parties in the federal government. In Wallonia, the coalition is composed of parties that are in the opposition at the federal level, including the Socialists (PS) and the Christian Democrats (CDH). The Brussels government is a six-party coalition with a partial overlap between the federal and regional coalitions. The capacity to coordinate policy between the federal and the regional governments is thus much more limited than it has been in recent times.

Moreover, the fact that the MR is the sole French-speaking party at the federal level, as well as a minority party in its electoral districts, puts it in an awkward position, limiting the capacity of the MR prime minister to dictate policy and behavior to coalition partners.
Japan
Informal relations and related agreements are very common in Japan. Such interactions can facilitate coordination, but can also lead to collusion. In terms of institutionalized informal coordination mechanisms in the realm of policymaking, informal meetings and debates between the ministries and the ruling party’s policy-research departments have traditionally been very important.

Informal, closed-door agreements on policy are again of considerable importance. The leadership has to navigate skillfully between the coalition partners, line ministries and their bureaucrats, and a more inquisitive public. The Chief Cabinet Secretary is a key actor in this regard. There is some evidence that cabinet meetings are essentially formalities, with sensitive issues informally discussed and decided beforehand. Ministries collect and make public few, if any, records of meetings between politicians and bureaucrats as they are supposed to do under the 2008 Basic Act of Reform of the National Civil Servant System.

The general trend toward greater transparency may have even strengthened the role of informality in order to avoid awkward situations. In a recent scandal involving Kake Gakuen, a schools operator, it emerged that the demarcation between official and informal documents was not clear-cut, allowing the government to sidestep formal procedures.
Citations:
Jiji News, Cabinet minutes show formality, no substance, The Japan Times, 5 October 2015, http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/10/05/national/politics-diplomacy/cabinet-minutes-show-formality-no-substance/

N. N., None of Japan’s 11 ministries kept records of contact between bureaucrats, politicians, The Mainichi, 24 February 2016, http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20160224/p2a/00m/0na/007000c

N. N. Cabinet staff kept records of contact between legislators, bureaucrats ‘voluntarily,’ The Mainichi, 25 February 2016, http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20160225/p2a/00m/0na/014000c

Enhancing government accountability (Ediorial), The Japan Times, 13 August 2017, https://www.japantimes.co.jp/opinion/2017/08/13/editorials/enhancing-government-accountability/
Luxembourg
There are many opportunities for informal coordination, given Luxembourg’s small size, its close-knit society and government administration. Those in public administration responsible for early policy research and formulation, are well familiar with representatives of social organizations and members of civil society research institutions. In the small state, there are many opportunities for informal contact between public servants and experts from research institutions, business, and civil society. Senior civil servants are simultaneously responsible for various projects, have an enormous workload and represent the government within different bodies, boards, and committees.
Citations:
“Participations de l’Etat.“ Trésorerie de l’Etat. 2017. www.te.public.lu/fr/participations.html. Accessed 30 Dec. 2017

“Die Osmose zwischen Staat und Unternehmen.” Luxemburger Wort, 24 November 2017. www.wort.lu/de/business/luxemburg-und-sein-finanzplatz-die-osmose-zwischen-staat-und-unternehmen-5a170a57c1097cee25b77bed. Accessed 30 Dec. 2017
New Zealand
In addition to formal coordination, there are a number of informal channels between coalition partners, government and legislative support parties, and ministers and their parliamentary parties. Although media commentary tends to not draw a distinction between formal coalitions (e.g., Labour/NZ First 2017-) and non-coalition support parties (e.g., National 2008-17), the Cabinet Manual seeks to at least formally clarify which procedures should be used as a guideline in case of informal coordination. For instance, Cabinet Office Circular CO (15) 1 “National-led Administration: Consultation and Operating Arrangements” defines the relationship between government ministers and ministers from parties that are not officially part of the government: “Support-party ministers are not members of cabinet. From time to time, support-party ministers and other ministers outside cabinet may seek the prime minister’s agreement to attend cabinet when significant matters within their portfolios are being addressed.”
Citations:
Cabinet Office Circular CO (15) 1 (Wellington: Cabinet Office 2015).
Switzerland
Given the small size of the federal administration and the country’s tradition of informal coordination, there is a continuing presence of strong and effective informal coordination. Informal coordination not only takes place among administrative units in the seven departments, but also between the respective administrations at the different federal levels (Mavrot and Sager 2017).
Citations:
MAVROT, Céline, and Fritz SAGER (2017). Vertical epistemic communities in multilevel governance. Policy & Politics: early online.
UK
Informal coordination was a hallmark of the Labour governments under Tony Blair (1997 to 2007). However, informal coordination was reduced during the Labour government of Gordon Brown (2007 to 2010) and largely abolished under the coalition government (2010 to 2015), because of the need for avoiding tensions within the coalition. Having returned to one-party government in May 2015, it was expected that informal forms of coordination would become more common again.

Cabinet committee discussions are regularly preceded or accompanied by bilateral meetings of relevant ministers supported by senior officials across government. These will often be chaired by the chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster or by other senior ministers.

The divisions within the governing Conservative Party, including among senior ministers, over the aims and likely “red lines” in negotiating the United Kingdom’s future relations with the European Union could complicate informal coordination, but – as examples of informal interministerial groups on subjects as diverse as flooding or the 2018 Commonwealth Summit show – it is working reliably in other areas.
Citations:
Collaborative Civil Service: https://civilservice.blog.gov.uk/2016/04/28/a-model-for-a-more-collaborative-civil-service-the-estate-strategy-in-action/
 
In most cases, informal coordination mechanisms support formal mechanisms of interministerial coordination.
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Australia
Information coordination procedures exist at the level of the party, where informal consultations on policies take place on a regular basis to make sure that the party leadership supports the government’s direction; this occurs regardless of which party is in office. The federal system and the division of responsibilities between the federal government and the state and territory governments means that informal coordination is always an important component of any policy that may involve the states. These procedures are ad hoc, and take place at two levels, among ministers from different jurisdictions, and at the level of senior public servants.
Chile
Informal coordination plays an important role in settling issues so that the cabinet can focus on strategic-policy debates. Existing informal mechanisms might be characterized as “formal informality,” as informal coordination mechanisms are de facto as institutionalized as formal ones in daily political practice. The functionality of this coordination mechanism did not change significantly during the review period.
Denmark
The Danish administrative system is a mix of formal rules and norms and more informal traditions. As a few examples, officials hold informal talks in the halls of government, over lunch and during travel to and from Brussels. The informal mechanisms can make formal meetings more efficient. Of course, important decisions must be confirmed in more formal settings. At the political level, informal mechanisms are probably more important than formal ones among officials. The fact that most governments have been coalition governments (and often minority governments) has increased the importance of information coordination mechanisms.
Citations:
Jørgen Grønnegård Christensen, Peter Munk Christiansen og Marius Ibsen, Politik og forvaltning, 4. udgave, Hans Reitzels Forlag, 2017.
France
A crucial factor and essentially an invisible coordination mechanism is the “old-boy network” of former students from the grandes écoles (École nationale d’administration (ENA), École Polytechnique, Mines, ParisTech and so on) or membership in the same “grands corps” (prestigious bureaucracies such as Inspection générale des Finances, Diplomatie, Conseil d’Etat and so on). Most ministries (except perhaps the least powerful or those considered as marginal) include one or several persons from this high civil servant super-elite who know each other or are bound by an informal solidarity. These high civil servants (especially “énarques” from ENA) also work in the PMO or the president’s office, further strengthening this informal connection. The system is both efficient and not transparent, from a procedural point of view. It is striking, for instance, how much former President Hollande relied on people who trained with him at ENA and to whom he offered key positions in the political administration – ranging from ministerial positions or the chair of the central bank to many other high offices.
Ireland
Every government in Ireland since 1989 has been a coalition government. The 2016 general election produced a Fine Gael-led minority government with nine independent deputies, a coalition which is dependent on the abstentionism of the main opposition party, Fianna Fáil, in votes relating to confidence and supply.

The impression conveyed by accounts of cabinet meetings is that the agenda is usually too heavy to allow long debates on fundamental issues, which tend to have been settled in various ways prior to the meeting. On the whole these informal coordination mechanisms appear to work effectively (see also Ministerial Bureaucracy on the importance on ministers’ special advisers).

During the 2011 to 2016 coalition government, the need for tight coordination was greater given that this government had to deal with the economic and financial crisis. An Economic Management Council (EMC) was introduced as a kind of “war cabinet.” It was composed of four key cabinet members: the taoiseach and tanaiste (the two party leaders) and the two key economic portfolios, the Minister for Finance and the Minister for Public Expenditure (one from each party). The EMC also included these four ministers’ top officials and advisers, about 13 in total. The EMC was an inner cabinet that took key decisions – a level of formal tight coordination not previously seen in Ireland.
Citations:
The two most recent Annual Reports on the Programme for Government are available here:

http://www.taoiseach.gov.ie/eng/Publications/Publications_2014/Programme_for_Government_Annual_Report_2014.pdf

http://www.taoiseach.gov.ie/eng/Publications/Publications_2015/Programme_for_Government_Annual_Report_2015..pdf
Poland
Informal mechanisms of coordination have played an important role under the PiS government. PiS chairman Jarosław Kaczyński has served as the gray eminence behind the scene. He has taken many important decisions himself, and the standing of government ministers has been strongly dependent upon their relationship with him.
South Korea
Most interministerial coordination is both formal and informal in Korea. Informal coordination is typically, if not always, more effective. There is also a clear hierarchy structuring the ministries. Staffers at the newly created Ministry of Strategy and Finance see themselves as the elite among civil servants. However, the leading role of the Ministry of Strategy and Finance is defined by the president’s mandate.
In addition, informal coordination processes tend to be plagued by nepotism and regional or peer-group loyalties, particularly among high-school and university alumni. There has been both cooperation and competition between the ministries. Informal networks between the president and powerful politicians work very effectively in forwarding specific policies. However, these practices can also lead to corruption and an inefficient allocation of resources. For example, the recent Choi Soon-sil scandal took advantage of the prevalence of informal coordination and meetings.
Sweden
Informal mechanisms of coordination among civil servants and higher-ranking politicians alike are common and important in the Swedish system, although they may not always be effective. And yet, informal contacts between departments and agencies are believed to be integral to the efficiency of the politico-administrative system. Informal coordination procedures effectively filter many, but not all, policy proposals.
Citations:
de Fine Licht, J. and J. Pierre (2017), Myndighetschefernas syn på regeringens styrning (Stockholm: Statskontoret).
USA
The U.S. government is highly prone to informal coordination, relying on personal networks, constituency relationships and other means. As with more formal processes, the effectiveness of such coordination is adversely affected by underdeveloped working relationships resulting from the short-term service of political appointees. The overall or average performance of informal coordination mechanisms has not been systematically evaluated. The Trump administration’s lack of experienced personnel in key agency positions leads to an increased role for informal coordination, often based on various personal networks, such as people connected with Trump’s family or businesses. These arrangements, however, are not sufficiently developed to make up for the lack of personnel and organization in the departments and agencies.
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Canada
Many, but not most policy proposals are coordinated through informal mechanisms, such as informal meetings with government members or across levels of government.

It is worth noting that Canada’s federal system has no formal provisions that deal specifically with federal-provincial coordination. Pressing federal-provincial issues and other matters that require inter-governmental discussions are usually addressed in the First Ministers’ Conference, which includes the prime minister, provincial premiers and territorial leaders, along with their officials. These meetings are called by the prime minister and have typically been held annually, but there is no formal schedule. The lack of any requirement for the conference to be held regularly is cause for concern, as it is critical for first ministers and the prime minister to engage in face-to-face discussions or negotiations, given the many policy areas that demand federal-provincial coordination. The previous prime minister, Stephen Harper, called the last First Minister’s Conference in 2009, but it was a further six years before Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, following the election in 2015, meet with provincial leaders again.

To promote provincial-territorial cooperation and coordinate provincial-territorial relations with the federal government, provincial premiers and territorial leaders have met at the Council of the Federation twice a year since 2003.
Estonia
Informal coordination has played an important role in ensuring efficient policymaking. In addition to contacts between high-ranking civil servants in ministries, the coalition committee and governing bodies of political parties have been key players in this regard. Getting support from coalition partners is generally the first step in successfully passing legislation.

Almost as important as the political support of coalition partners is the backing of local governments. Between 2016 and 2017, an administrative reform entered the final stage, which resulted in mergers of local governments (some of these forced by the central government). Because local governments and their associations cannot veto the policy process, their position can be ignored. Due to the ongoing reform, there has been much confusion and ill communication as well as opposition to central government initiatives. However, the amalgamation process is completing by the end of 2017 and the next steps of the administrative reform, aiming at clarifying the division of competences between the levels of government, can facilitate better coordination.

Fifteen county governments – the regional arm of the central government – will be disbanded in 2018 with their functions divided between agencies of the central government and municipalities. In principle, this ought to improve coordination.
Greece
Most coordination mechanisms are informal and complement the more meager formal coordination mechanisms such as the infrequently convened cabinet and ministerial committees. Most informal mechanisms are ad hoc meetings among ministers convened at the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO). Such meetings are followed up by person-to-person contacts between staff members of the PMO and advisers to ministers. In the period under review, informal coordination was frequent and was organized by close associates of Prime Minister Tsipras, such as ministers without portfolio, working at the PMO. Such ministers were assisted by several close associates of the prime minister, for example the General Secretary of the PMO and other Syriza party cadres who participated in daily briefings in the PMO. The Syriza-ANEL coalition government, after a long initial period during which various party officials around Prime Minister Tsipras experimented with reorganizing policymaking and government structures, has now settled into a more predictable pattern of informal coordination.
Iceland
There is evidence that informal cooperation between ministers outside of formal cabinet meetings is increasing. These cooperative ministerial clusters were referred to in the Special Investigation Committee’s 2010 report as “super-ministerial groups.” The SIC report pointed out that examples of such cooperation immediately after the 2008 economic collapse demonstrated a need for clear rules on reporting what is discussed and decided in such informal meetings.

The SIC report also identified a tendency to move big decisions and important cooperative discussions into informal meetings between the chairmen of the ruling coalition parties. In March 2016, revised regulations on the procedures for cabinets were introduced but this only addresses formal cabinet meetings and not informal ministerial meetings. Therefore, we can conclude that the SIC report’s call for clearer regulation has partly been addressed. However, informal meetings continue without proper reporting.
Citations:
The SIC report from 2010. Chapter 7. (Aðdragandi og orsakir falls Íslensku bankanna 2008 og tengdir atburðir (7). Reykjavík. Rannsóknarnefnd Alþingis).

Reglur um starfshætti ríkisstjórnar. Nr. 292/2016. 18. mars 2016. (Rules on procedures in cabinets).
Italy
During the Renzi government, the prime minister – as leader of the dominant party of the government coalition – was able to steer the government using informal mechanisms of coordination, a close circle of friends and the undersecretary to the presidency. Under the Gentiloni government, with the leader of the Democratic Party now outside the government, these informal coordination mechanisms have become weaker. The Treasury has acquired a more important role in these informal coordination mechanisms. This weaker coordination can lead to hasty and ill-prepared decisions, which later need to be revised.
Latvia
A coalition council that represents the political parties forming the governing coalition meets for weekly informal consultations. Despite its regular meetings with formal agendas, the council is not a part of the official decision-making process. Given that cabinet meetings are open to the press and public, coalition-council meetings provide an opportunity for off-the-record discussions and coordination. The council plays a de facto gatekeeping function for controversial issues, deciding when there is enough consensus to move issues to the cabinet. The coalition council can play both a complementary role, creating an enabling environment for consensus-building, and a destructive role, undermining the legitimacy of the official decision-making process.
Lithuania
Formal mechanisms of interministerial coordination still dominate the decision-making process, despite the emergence of new informal coordination mechanisms and practices at the central level of government. Political councils are created to solve political disagreements within the ruling coalition. In addition, the leadership of political parties represented in the government is often involved in the coordination of political issues. Informal meetings are sometimes called to coordinate various issues at the administrative level. Furthermore, the 2012 to 2016 government planned to develop a senior civil service strata, which could actively engage in policy coordination at the managerial level. However, these politically-sensitive provisions were later withdrawn from subsequent drafts of the Civil Service Law. Recent civil service reforms do not envision the creation of a higher civil service in the country.
Norway
Cabinet ministers meet frequently and keep in close touch with one other on issues of policy. Efforts have been made to encourage cross-ministerial relationships on the level of lower officials as well. There is extensive informal coordination between cabinet and parliamentary committees and party organizations.
Portugal
Informal coordination mechanisms are central to government functioning and coordination. The horizontal informal links between ministries help compensate for the absence or rigidity of formal horizontal linkages. Informal coordination became even more important as the Socialist Party (PS) government depends on the PCP, BE and PEV to pass legislation in the parliament.
Slovakia
Informal coordination has played a significant role in policy coordination under the third Fico government. For one thing, Fico has continued to capitalize on his weakening, but still rather strong role as party leader. For another, the new coalition decided to establish a complex system of coalition councils. The main coalition council, which coordinates the work of various sub-councils and consists of the chairmen of the three parties in government, meets at least once a month and adopts decisions unanimously. After the coalition crisis in August 2017, the leaders of the coalition partners agreed on measures for better communication, including regular Monday meetings, disclosing their proposals to each other no later than 24 hours before the cabinet session and forming a working group for improving communication between the three parties at the local and regional level.
Slovenia
Slovenia’s tradition of coalition governments has meant that informal coordination procedures have played a significant role in policy coordination. Under the Cerar government, the leaders of the three coalition parties meet frequently, making major decisions at coalition meetings that were often also attended by the ministers and from time to time also by the leaders of parliamentary majority groups and coalition members of parliament. In press conferences and public statements after these meetings, very little information about the decisions made is provided to the public. The dominant role of the party leaders within their parties has also meant that a considerable amount of policy coordination takes place in party expert bodies.
Spain
The relative weakness of formal coordination among ministry civil servants in Spain (see “Ministerial Bureaucracy”) is to some extent compensated for by helpful informal procedures. When administrative coordination is needed because interministerial problems are real and cannot be solved by the non-effective existing committees or by invoking vertical hierarchy, informal contacts, or meetings between officials of the various ministries involved are organized. Many policy proposals can in fact be coordinated in this fashion (ad hoc working groups are rare but may also be created). As Spanish senior civil servants are clustered into different specialized bureaucratic corps, informal mechanisms rely often on the fact that officials involved in the coordination may belong to the same corps or share a network of old colleagues. Nevertheless, the existence of specialized corps tends to aggravate Spanish administrative fragmentation, since every corps tends to control a department according to its specialization.
Within the cabinet, these informal mechanisms are less necessary, since the stable Spanish experience of single-party governments with strong prime ministers has up to this point required less coordination than would coalition cabinets. However, informal coordination procedures do exist, with exchanges of views and occasional or urgent meetings of an inner core of ministers politically close to Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy.
Netherlands
Very little is actually known about informal coordination at the (sub)-Council of Ministers level regarding policymaking and decision-making. The best-known informal procedure used to be the “Torentjesoverleg,” in which the prime minister and core of the Council of Ministers consulted with the leaders of the political parties supporting the coalition in the Prime Minister’s Office (“Het Torentje”). Coalition governments cannot survive without this kind of high-level political coordination between government and the States General. Given the weak parliamentary support of the Rutte I and II councils of ministers (October 2010 – February 2017), such informal coordination is no longer limited to political parties providing support to the governing coalition.

Under the present conditions, in which civil servants are subject to increasing parliamentary and media scrutiny, and in which gaps in trust and loyalty between the political leadership and the bureaucracy staff are growing, informal coordination and the personal chemistry among civil servants are what keeps things running. Regarding interministerial coordination, informal contacts between the senior staff (raadadviseurs) in the prime minister’s Council of Ministers and senior officers working for ministerial leadership are absolutely crucial. Nonetheless, such bureaucratic coordination is undermined by insufficient or absent informal political coordination.
Citations:
R.B. Andeweg and G.A. Irwin (2014), Governance and politics of the Netherlands. Houndmills, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 154-163, 198-203, 220-228.

S. Jilke et al., Public Sector Reform in the Netherlands: Views and Experiences from Senior Executives, COCOPS Research Report, 2013
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Austria
Previous coordination mechanisms – like weekly informal meetings within each cabinet faction and the cabinet as a whole, as well as the regular informal meetings between the chancellor and vice-chancellor – were sufficiently effective. They did not guarantee a smooth decision-making process based on consensus, but did allow the cabinet to make a realistic assessment of what collective decisions were possible or impossible. Informal coordination mechanisms were used to negotiate a compromise when a proposal from one party’s minister was unacceptable to the other coalition party.

It remains to be seen whether the new ÖVP-FPÖ coalition will introduce new permanent coordination mechanisms.
Czech Rep.
Informal coordination mechanisms have featured prominently in Czech political culture. Under the Sobotka government, the principles of coordination and problem solving within the government are described in the coalition agreement. Fundamental problems are solved by so-called coalition troika, consisting of the chairpersons of the governing parties. The most important body is the coalition council. It consists of the chairpersons of the coalition parties and a maximum of three other representatives of the respective coalition parties. Coordination mechanisms at the level of parliamentary and senatorial clubs are also important. The functioning of these mechanisms has been influenced by personal animosities over the period under review. The six ANO ministries were coordinating their agendas. This included participation in the Supervisor project – increasing transparency on spending. However, no ministries are controlled by Social Democrats or Christian Democrats.
Germany
There are a number of informal mechanisms by which government policy is coordinated. The most important of these is the coalition committee, which comprises the most important actors (the chancellor, the deputy chancellor, the chairpersons of the parliamentary groups and the party chairpersons) within the coalition parties. Under the last Merkel government 2013 – 2017, the coalition committee met irregularly. Only at the peak of the refugee crisis did the coalition committee meet frequently. Even then, it was sometimes unable to resolve political conflicts and to develop coordinated policy responses.
Malta
The government tendency toward informal coordination mechanisms has increased since Malta joined the European Union in 2004. Many directives from Brussels cut across departments and ministries, and this encourages ministries to talk to each other and work more closely together. Preparations for the EU presidency in January 2017 has raised this informal coordination to unprecedented levels. Currently, the PMO exercises an expanded coordinating role which has advanced progress on some domestic issues and policies. Overall, this is the result of establishing the Ministry for European Affairs and Implementation of the Manifesto. Furthermore, the principal permanent secretary has introduced frequent coordination meetings seeking to enhance the process.
Turkey
Informal bodies, which are usually made up of senior party members and their personal networks, are typically used to sketch the framework of an issue in consultation with experts, while civil servants develop proposals, and finally the upper administrative echelons finalize policy. The higher levels of the ruling party in particular, in cooperation with ministers who have considerable experience in their fields, continue to form a tight network and contribute significantly to policy preparation.

However, the recent allegations of and fight against an illegal parallel structure within existing state structures linked to the network of U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gülen placed significant strain on these informal mechanisms. As a consequence, a new generation of cabinet and administrative staffers with a high degree of loyalty and commitment to the party-state system is being groomed.

Informal coordination between the PMO and the Presidency has allegedly become more relevant since President Erdogan took over office, and especially after Binali Yildirim became prime minister. Erdoğan regularly meets with line ministers and with the “small cabinet” to coordinate government policies. This type of informal coordination, however, cannot be considered constructive, but rather it has the potential to replace formal mechanisms of interministerial coordination.
Citations:
Bülent Duru and İlhan Uzgel, AKP Kitabı-Bir Dönüşümün Bilançosu, İstanbul: Phoenix Yayınevi, 2013.
 
In some cases, informal coordination mechanisms support formal mechanisms of interministerial coordination.
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Bulgaria
Given the weakness of formal mechanisms of interministerial coordination and the fact that all recent governments have been either coalition or minority governments, informal coordination mechanisms have played a vital role in Bulgaria. However, the rules of coordination between government coalition parties or parties supporting the government are traditionally not communicated to the public. It is unclear to what extent informal coordination helps achieve a higher overall coherence of policies.
Israel
Israel’s government system is greatly influenced by informal coordination mechanisms, such as coalition obligations and internal party politics. However, due to its highly fragmented party system, it is hard to determine whether they support or undermine formal mechanisms of interministerial coordination. While coordination between like-minded parties may be made easier by the situation, fragmentation may result in stagnation over disputed policies.
Citations:
“Annual report 61 for the year 2010: Treatment of prolonged interministerial disagreements,” The State Comptroller office website (Hebrew)

Blander, Dana and Ben Nur, Gal, “Governmental coalitions: A steering mechanism in the political system,” in The political system in Israel 2013: http://www.idi.org.il/ספרים-ומאמרים/הוצאה-לאור/הספרים/הספרייה-לדמוקרטיה/המערכת-הפוליטית-בישראל (Hebrew).

“Coalition management,” the Knesset website: http://main.knesset.gov.il/About/Lexicon/Pages/coalition-management.aspx (Hebrew)

Rivlin, Reuven, “The intellectual independency of the Knesset member: the limit of the coalition obligation,” The Israel Democracy Institute (December 2010) (Hebrew).
Mexico
A number of informal mechanisms for coordinating policy exist, and given the lack of “formal” coordination capabilities within the Mexican administration, informal coordination often functions as a substitute. This is normal in a presidential system where only a few cabinet secretaries have independent political bases. Ministers retain their positions, for the most part, at the will of the president. It is important to note, however, that some cabinet secretaries are more equal than others. The Finance Ministry, and Ministry of the Interior and Police have assumed hegemonic roles under President Peña Nieto. In this sense, it is significant that the finance secretary, José Antonio Meade, resigned in November 2017 to run for the presidency as candidate of the incumbent PRI. Moreover, toward the end of a presidential term, the congruence of formal and informal coordination mechanisms tends to diminish.
4
Croatia
Informal coordination both between the coalition partners and between different party factions in the HDZ has played an important role in interministerial coordination under the Plenković government. The strong reliance on decisions in coalition meetings or party bodies has helped maintain the tradition of keeping strategic decisions and policy coordination largely within the political parties’ ambit, preventing the development of more formal and transparent mechanisms of policy coordination or a strengthening of the public administration’s role. Moreover, the break-up of the coalition in May 2017 testifies to the limits of informal coordination.
Cyprus
A practice of informal meetings exists but is infrequently utilized. During the post-2010 economic difficulties, more formal meetings took place than before. In recent months, a very small number of ad hoc formal meetings took place, mainly information gathering and consultation meetings. Discord between political actors rather than effective consultation dominated the field, with parties usually opposing government proposals.
Citations:
1. MPs reprimanded Two Laws declared Unconstitutional, Cyprus Mail, 6 September 2017, http://cyprus-mail.com/2017/09/06/mps-reprimanded-two-laws-declared-unconstitutional/
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Informal coordination mechanisms tend to undermine rather than complement formal mechanisms of interministerial coordination.
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Romania
In addition to the formal mechanisms of interministerial coordination, there has been an informal coordination of the government’s work by PSD chef Dragnea, the “éminence grise” of the government. When Grindeanu became too independent, he was toppled by Dragnea. The informal coordination within the governing party thus undermined the formal coordination mechanisms within government.
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