Interministerial Coordination


How effectively do ministerial or cabinet committees coordinate cabinet proposals?

The large majority of cabinet proposals are reviewed and coordinated first by committees.
The Council of Ministers (conseil-des-ministres), which is one of the central components of the government, meets every week. Each minister is responsible for drafting a proposal, which gets submitted to the council. The council’s secretariat then checks whether the proposal can be debated, asking a number of questions: Is it complete and technically sound? Does it conflict with other past decisions? Is it contained in the governmental agreement? Proposals are debated by ministers only if they pass this first filter, a process that allows them to focus on the strategic aspects of the issue. However, the most important strategic considerations are mainly political.

Before reaching the Council of Ministers, projects are always discussed beforehand in formal or informal intercabinet meetings that include experts and senior officers from the relevant ministries. Most negotiation is performed at that stage and, if necessary, further fine-tuned in the “core” meeting in the case of particularly important or sensitive policy issues.
Cabinet committees effectively prepare cabinet meetings. The government has four statutory cabinet committees: the Committee on Foreign and Security Policy (which meets with the president when pressing issues arise), Committee on European Union Affairs, Cabinet Finance Committee and Cabinet Committee on Economic Policy. Additionally, ad hoc cabinet committees can be appointed by the government plenary session. All these committees are chaired by the prime minister, who also chairs sessions of the Economic Council, the Research and Innovation Council, and the Title Board. In addition, there are several ministerial working groups. The primary task of these committees and groups is to prepare cabinet meetings by helping to create consensus between relevant ministries and interests. In all, a large majority of issues are reviewed first by cabinet committees and working groups.
Policy preparation tends to take place in cabinet committees (regeringsudvalg) involving a smaller number of ministers. The number of such committees has varied over time. Currently, the following standing cabinet committees exist: the government coordination committee (chaired by the prime minister), the economy committee (chaired by the finance minister), the security committee (chaired by the prime minister), the appointments committee (chaired by the prime minister) the government’s EU implementation committee (chaired by the minister of employment), and the Ministerial Committee for Public Renewal (chaired by the minister for public innovation).

This system was strengthened under the previous liberal-conservative government in the early 2000s and there are parallel committees of high-level civil servants.
Jørgen Grønnegård Christensen et al., Politik og forvaltning, 4. udg., 2017.

Oversigt over faste regeringsudvalg, (Accessed 16 October 2017).
New Zealand
There are clear guidelines for policy formulation in the New Zealand core executive. All policy proposals are reviewed in cabinet committees. Full cabinet meetings therefore can focus on strategic policy debates and policy conflicts between coalition partners or between the government and its legislative support parties in the House of Representatives. In quantitative terms, from 1 July 2014 to 30 June 2015, the full cabinet met 39 times while cabinet committees met 121 times. A revised cabinet committee structure was implemented in October 2014 following the formation of the government after the 2014 general election. This resulted in the disestablishment of one cabinet committee, reducing the overall number from 11 to 10. Key committees include Economic Growth and Infrastructure, Social Policy and Cabinet Legislation.
Annual Report for the Year Ended 30 June 2015 (Wellington: Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet 2015).
Cabinet Office Circular CO 14) 8. Cabinet Committees: Terms of Reference and Membership,, accessed October 24, 2016).
Two powerful ministerial committees effectively prepare cabinet meetings in Spain: the Committee for Economic Affairs, and the Committee of Undersecretaries and Secretaries of State. The Committee for Economic Affairs normally meets on Thursdays (a day before the Council of Ministers meetings) to review and schedule economic or budgetary interministerial coordination. Since 2011, this committee has been chaired by the prime minister himself, with the help of the director of his Economic Office and is also made up of ministers and secretaries of state with economic responsibilities.

For its part, the Committee of Undersecretaries and Secretaries of State effectively filters out and settles issues prior to cabinet meetings. This committee of top officials meets every Wednesday to prepare the Council of Ministers’ weekly sessions, which are held every Friday (see “Ministerial Bureaucracy” for further details). No cabinet member participates apart from the deputy prime minister, who serves as its chairperson. Spain’s only Council of Ministers committee composed exclusively of cabinet members is the Foreign Policy Council (Consejo de Política Exterior), which meets only about once a year. Other ministerial committees (composed of several ministers and individual non-cabinet members such as secretaries of state) are regulated by Royal Decree 1886/2011 (as modified by RD 385/2013).
Real Decreto 385/2013, de 31 de mayo, de modificación del Real Decreto 1886/2011, de 30 de diciembre, por el que se establecen las Comisiones Delegadas del Gobierno _boe/txt.php?id=BOE-A-2013-5771
The composition and terms of reference of cabinet committees are decided by the prime minister. The minister for the Cabinet Office also has an influential role. The importance of cabinet meetings and committees increased under the previous coalition government, because of the need to ensure fair representation of both coalition parties. In addition, a powerful coalition committee, chaired jointly by the prime minister and deputy prime minister, existed. The latter became redundant when the new Conservative government won power in May 2015. A number of other committees, such as a committee on banking reform, were also discontinued. However, the creation of implementation taskforces alongside conventional committees has meant a net increase in numbers. Since the change of prime minister in the summer of 2016, two noteworthy innovations are the establishment of the European Union Exit and Trade Committee and the Economy and Industrial Strategy Cabinet Committee, both of which are chaired by the prime minister. Additionally, a committee on social reform was created. This evolution is characteristic of the UK government’s tendency to create new committees rapidly in response to shifts in political priorities, demonstrating the flexibility of the system.

Cabinet committees reduce the burden on the cabinet by enabling collective decisions to be taken by a smaller group of ministers. Since the Conservative government of Edward Heath (1970 – 1974), it has become an established norm that decisions settled in cabinet committees are not questioned in full cabinet unless the committee chair or the prime minister decide to do so.
Most cabinet proposals are reviewed and coordinated by committees, in particular proposals of political or strategic importance.
Committees serve a purpose in dealing with various matters, which include: highly sensitive issues, for example revenue or security matters; relatively routine issues, for example a government’s weekly parliamentary program; business that is labor intensive or requires detailed consideration by a smaller group of ministers, for example the expenditure review that takes place before the annual budget, or oversight of the government’s initiatives in relation to a sustainable environment. The prime minister usually establishes a number of standing committees of the cabinet (e.g., expenditure review, national security, parliamentary business). Additional committees, including ad hoc committees, may be set up from time to time for particular purposes, such as handling a national disaster.
Cabinet committees have both the legal and de facto power to prepare cabinet meetings in such a way as to allow the cabinet to focus on vital issues. The de facto power to sort out issues before they go to cabinet belongs to senior officials in the PMO and PCO, not to cabinet committees. Still, this allows the cabinet to focus on strategic policy issues.
Coordination is strong within the French government, and is in the hands of the PMO and the President’s Office, which constantly liaise and decide on issues. Coordination takes place at several levels. First at the level of specialized civil servants who work as political appointees in the PMO (members of the cabinet, that is political appointees belonging to the staff of the prime minister), then in meetings chaired by the secretary-general and finally by the prime minister himself, in case of permanent conflicts between ministers or over important issues. In many instances, conflicts pit the powerful ministers of budget or finance against other ministries. Appeals to the prime minister require either a powerful convincing argument or that the appealing party is a key member of the government coalition, as it is understood that the prime minister should not be bothered by anything but the highest-level issues. A powerful instrument in the hands of the prime minister is his capacity to decide which texts will be presented to the parliament with priority. Given the frequent bottlenecks in the process, ministerial bills can end up indefinitely postponed.

The new government has introduced the practice of “government seminars” to ensure better cohesion and harmonization. The team spirit seems to have improved a lot in comparison with the past.
A significant number of policy proposals require de jure scrutiny by a Council of Ministers committee or even the explicit consent of a plurality of ministers. In a number of cases, this is only a formal exercise and the Council of Ministers committees are not an important mechanism. It is more significant that a number of important issues are de facto dealt with through consultations among a few ministers (and their ministerial cabinets) before being brought to the Council of Ministers or are sent to this type of proceeding after preliminary discussion in the council. These consultations, which usually include the Treasury, typically avoid provoking conflicts in the council. In meetings of the Council of Ministers, discussion of policy proposals are typically very cursory. Most problems have been resolved before meetings of the Council of Ministers, either in formal or informal meetings.
Cabinet committees are an integral part of the official decision-making process. If ministerial agreement on draft policy proposals cannot be reached at the state-secretary level, issues are automatically taken up by a cabinet committee for resolution. The cabinet committee’s mandate is to iron out differences prior to elevating the proposal to the cabinet level. In 2015, cabinet committees considered 106 issues, of which 85 were sent on to cabinet.

The cabinet committee may be complemented by informal mechanisms such as the coalition council if agreement cannot otherwise be reached.
State Chancellery (2014), Report, Available at (in Latvian):, Last assessed: 22.11.2015.
There are no cabinet committees, in the strict sense. The Council of Ministers (Luxembourg’s cabinet) has to rely entirely on the work of line ministries or interministerial groups, if more than one department is concerned. Generally, the Council of Ministers is well prepared, as only bills that have been accepted informally are presented. Moreover, bills must be scrutinized by experts at the Ministry of Finance and the inspector general of finance (Inspection générale des finances), which is comprised of senior civil servants and chaired by the secretary-general of the Council of Ministers. This informal body insures that coherence prevails. The Prime Minister’s Office has assumed some horizontal competences on issues that concern more than one ministry, notably in the field of administrative simplification, ethical and deontological questions.
“Gouvernement.” Le portal de l’actualité gouvermentale, Accessed 21 Dec. 2017.

Inspection générale des finances, Accessed 21 Dec. 2017.

“Conseil de gouvernement.” Le portal de l’actualité gouvermentale Accessed 21 Dec. 2017.

“Système politique.” Le portal de l’actualité gouvermentale, Accessed 21 Feb. 2017.
Cabinet committees play an important role in the preparation of cabinet proposals in Slovenia and settle issues prior to the cabinet meeting. There are three standing cabinet committees: the Committee of State Matters and Public Issues, the Committee of National Economy and the Commission of Administrative and Personnel Matters. In addition, temporary committees are from time to time established for particular tasks. In its first three years in office, the Cerar government established eleven of them, including cabinet committees for youth issues, problems of the disabled, integration of migrants and protection against natural disasters.
Council of Ministers committees (onderraad) involve a separate meeting chaired by the prime minister for the ministers involved. Each committee has a coordinating minister responsible for relevant input and documents. Discussion and negotiations focus on issues not resolved through prior administrative coordination and consultation. If the committee fails to reach a decision, the matter is pushed up to the Council of Ministers.

Since the Balkenende IV Council of Ministers there have been six standing Council of Ministers committees: international and European affairs; economics, knowledge and innovation; social coherence; safety and legal order; and administration, government and public services. Given the elaborate process of consultations and negotiations, few issues are likely to have escaped attention and discussion before reaching the Council of Ministers.

However, since the Rutte I and II cabinets have consisted of two or more political parties of contrary ideological stripes (the conservative-liberal VVD and the PvdA or Labor Party, in the case of Rutte II), political pragmatism and opportunism has tended to transform “review and coordination” to simple logrolling, or in Dutch political jargon: “positive exchange,” meaning that each party agrees tacitly or explicitly not to veto the other’s bills. This tendency has negative consequences for the quality of policymaking, as minority views effectively win parliamentary majorities if they are budgetarily feasible, without first undergoing rigorous policy and legal analyses.
Ministerial or cabinet committees are not necessarily central when it comes to decision-making on policy matters. Depending on the topic, ministerial committees are more or less involved in preparing cabinet proposals, especially those of relatively significant strategic or financial importance. These proposals are normally coordinated effectively.
Given the dominant role of the PMO and the small number of ministries, cabinet committees have for long played a much less significant role under the second and third Orbán governments than under previous governments. In 2016, however, two important cabinet committees were created, the strategic committee led by János Lázár and the economic committee led by Mihály Varga. These committees have a clear profile, but an uncertain mandate, since it has not been decided whether they are advisory-preparatory or decision-making bodies. However, their function is certainly to relieve Orbán from the everyday burden of management and to create a new rivalry in the government between the two important personalities. In the period under review, György Matolcsy, the Governor of the National Bank has been the main player in economic policy, so Varga has been pushed to the second row. As part of its stronger emphasis on family policy, the government announced in the fall of 2017 the creation of a cabinet committee on family affairs.
Cabinet committees are established by the government and managed by the Department of the Taoiseach. Cabinet committees derive their authority from government. Membership of cabinet committees includes two or more members of the government, and may also include the attorney general and government ministers. Typically, committees have between four and 12 members. In 2011, the smallest cabinet committee was the Irish and the Gaeltacht Committee with four members and the largest was the European Affairs Committee with 13 members. This means that many government ministers will serve on multiple cabinet committees. In 2011, the Minister for Finance was a member of five out of eight cabinet committees. The essential job of cabinet committees is to coordinate policy initiatives, especially when substantive policy proposals concern multiple line departments.

In 2016, there were 10 cabinet committees. The most recent addition focuses on Brexit, while the others focus on the economy, trade and jobs; housing; health; social policy and public-sector reform; justice reform; European affairs; regional and rural affairs; infrastructure, environment and climate change; the arts, Irish and the Gaeltacht. When Leo Varadkar became the taoiseach (prime minister) in June 2017 he halved the number of cabinet committees.

Cabinet committees are chaired by the taoiseach or a senior official of the Department of the Taoiseach. Cabinet committees generally make policy recommendations, which are followed up by a formal memo to the government.
For information about Cabinet Committee see:

Niamh Hardiman, Aidan Regan and Mary Shayne ‘The Core Executive: The Department of the Taoiseach and the Challenge of Policy Coordination, in Eoin O’Malley and Muiris MacCarthaigh (eds, 2012), Governing Ireland: From Cabinet Government to Delegated Governance. Dublin: IPA.
Although Lithuania’s government can create advisory bodies such as government committees or commissions, the number and role of such committees has gradually declined since the beginning of the 2000s, when coalition governments became the rule. Top-priority policy issues are frequently discussed in governmental deliberations organized before the official government meetings. The Strategic Committee is composed of several cabinet ministers, the chancellor, and a top prime-ministerial deputy who manages the government’s performance priorities, policy and strategy. Another government committee, the Crisis Management Committee, advises the government on crisis management. A European Union Commission continues to act as a government-level forum for discussing Lithuania’s EU positions, but this is made up of relevant vice-ministers, and chaired by the minister of foreign affairs.
Mexico is unusual, because the constitution does not recognize the cabinet as a collective body. Instead, Mexico has four sub cabinets, respectively dealing with economic, social, political and security matters. As a result, Mexico in practice has a system of cabinet committees each of them normally chaired by the president. The full cabinet never or hardly ever meets. Mexico’s cabinet, as a collective, matters less than in most countries. The cabinet is not a supreme executive body as it is in, say, Britain. For one thing, there are a number of heads of executive agencies, with cabinet rank, who are not directly subject to a minister. There is a trend of governments to increase this process, partially out of the logic of depoliticizing and cementing programmatic decisions and views in social and economic policy fields. Under the current administration, cabinet reshuffles have frequently taken place, often in response to unpopular policy outcomes or political pressure.
Most ordinary meetings of the Portuguese cabinet – the Council of Ministers – are used for policy decisions rather than strategic policy debates. Political issues and strategic policy considerations are by-and-large prepared by the Council’s inner core of a few ministers, augmented by other ministers and staff when required.
South Korea
Formally, the cabinet is the executive branch’s highest body for policy deliberation and resolution. In reality, the role of the cabinet is limited because all important issues are discussed bilaterally between the Blue House and the relevant ministry. However, bureaucratic skirmishing takes place on many issues. The Blue House’s capacity to contain rivalries between the various ministries tends to be relatively high early in a given president’s official term. However, coordination power becomes weaker in a lame-duck administration. Committees are either permanent, such as the National Security Council, or created in response to a particular issue. As many government agencies have recently been moved out of Seoul into Sejong city, the need to hold cabinet meetings without having to convene in one place at the same time has been growing, and the law has therefore been amended to allow cabinet meetings in a visual teleconference format.
The rules of procedure of the Croatian government provide for different kinds of cabinet committees and assign a major role in policy coordination to them. The prime minister and the vice prime ministers form the core cabinet (Uži kabinet vlade). In addition, there are various permanent and non-permanent cabinet committees that focus on particular issues. As there is little ex ante coordination among ministries, controversies are often pushed upwards, with cabinet committees playing an important role in resolving conflicts. However, the quality of coordination suffers from the fact that cabinet committees are absorbed by these disputes and other matters of detail.
Cabinet committees rarely prepare cabinet meetings, although the Budget Committee and some ad hoc committees are exceptions. However, the majority of items on cabinet meeting agendas are prepared by ministers often with two or more ministers coordinating the cabinet meeting. In the immediate aftermath of the 2008 economic collapse, cooperation between ministers increased, particularly between the prime minister, the minister of finance, and the minister of commerce. However, this change was temporary and intended only to facilitate the cabinet’s immediate reactions to the 2008 economic collapse. In February 2013, new regulations were introduced permitting the prime minister to create single-issue ministerial committees to facilitate coordination between ministers where an issue overlaps their authority areas.

Records must be kept of all ministerial committee meetings, but these are not made public.

The number of ministerial committees to coordinate overlapping policy issues has been reduced since the preceding review period from 7 to 3. These committees include the Ministerial Committee on Public Finances (Ráðherranefnd um ríkisfjármál), with four ministers, and the Ministerial Committee on National Economy (Ráðherranefnd um efnahagsmál), with four ministers. The newly established Ministerial Committee on Coordination of Issues that concern more than one ministry (Ráðherranefnd um samræmingu mála er varða fleiri en eitt ráðuneyti) encompasses the former ministerial committees on Equality, On Solutions for the Debts of Families, on Arctic Affairs, and on Public Health Affairs. Even though this includes all possible issues, four are specifically mentioned: Equality, issues of refugees and immigrants, arctic affairs, and public health.
Rules on procedures in ministerial committee meetings. (REGLUR um starfshætti ráðherranefnda. Nr. 166/2013 22. febrúar 2013).
According to the basic law provisions addressing the government, as well as prevailing standards of practice, the government is authorized to appoint cabinet committees (called ministerial committees) to handle different policy issues. Moreover, it is obligated to appoint a security- and state-focused cabinet that includes the prime minister, the minister of defense, the minister of justice, the foreign minister, the minister of state security and the minister of finance. Currently, 33 ministerial committees work to address a wide range of topics.

While most ministerial committees receive limited attention in the media, an exception is the ministerial committee for legislation, which handles the preparation and the first approval of legislative proposals. In other words, the committee’s decisions regarding proposals determine how the coalition members will vote on the proposals in the Knesset.
The ministerial committees in Israel are increasingly fruitful. Under the previous government (2013 – 2015), their decisions accounted for 54% of all governmental decisions (the current government has not yet released updated information on this topic).
Cabinet committees and their authorities,” the ministry of Justice website 24.6.1996 (Hebrew)

Friedberg, Chen, “The Knesset’s Committees – Foretold Failure?,” The Ben-Gurion

Law Proposal –Amendments of ‘Basic Law: The Government’, 2015
‘Decade of Ministerial Committees – comparative study’ – January 2016,
Citizens’ Empowerment in Israel (Hebrew):

“Ministerial Commitees.” PMO’s website (12.11.2015),

Research Institute for the Study of Israel & Zionism (January 2010) (Hebrew)

“The guidelines for government work,” PMO’s website (Hebrew)
Working Plan Book 2017-18, PMO Office, March 2017: (Hebrew)

‘Transparency in the Ministerial Committee for Legislation’ – February 2016, The Social Guard (Hebrew):
Government committees exist in a number of important fields in which coordination among ministries with de facto overlapping jurisdictions plays an important role. The most important is the Council for Economic and Fiscal Policy (CEFP), headed by the prime minister. However, this has never been a “ministerial committee” in a strict sense. First, it has only an advisory function. Second, individuals from the private sector – two academics and two business representatives in the current configuration – are included. This can increase the impact of such councils, but it also means they are somewhat detached from political processes.

Prime Minister Abe again strengthened the role of the CEFP and set up the Headquarters for Japan’s Economic Revitalization as a “quasi-sub-committee” of the CEFP that encompasses all state ministers. While the cabinet has to approve considerations developed in the CEFP or in the Headquarters, there is indeed a shift toward first discussing policy redirections in the committees, including discussions of basic budget guidelines.

There are currently four councils operating directly under the Cabinet Office, including CEFP and the Council for Science, Technology and Innovation.

The creation of the National Security Council in 2013 was a similar case in which interministerial coordination was intensified in the interest of asserting the prime minister’s policy priorities.

The structure is becoming ever more complex and could lead to confusion. For instance, under the Headquarters mentioned above, the Japan Revitalization Strategy 2016 foresees creation of a “Public-Private Council for the Fourth Industrial Revolution.”
Cabinet Office, Japan 2016 Revitalization Strategy, Provisional Translation,
While government officials do organize cabinet committees to assist in clarifying issues prior to full cabinet meetings, these do not necessarily correspond to line ministries but to individual issues. Occasionally ministers form cabinet subcommittees to coordinate policies between ministries. The chair of the subcommittee, however, would not be from the ministry from which the policy originated. Cabinet committees on EU affairs, including on the EU’s Common Foreign and Security Policy, have been appointed. In addition, an ad hoc cabinet committee oversaw the preparations and running of Malta’s presidency of the EU in 2017.
Harwood Mark, Malta in the European Union 2014 Ashgate, Surrey
The importance of cabinet and ministerial committees has varied over time in Slovakia, with every government modifying the committee structure. The third Fico government have had only one cabinet committee composed exclusively of ministers, the Council for National Security. Other ministerial committees consisting of ministers and senior civil servants and chaired by the four appointed vice prime ministers or line ministers have played a major role in the preparation of government proposals, and have been quite effective in settling controversial issues prior to cabinet meetings. However, they are still neither formally nor systematically involved in the preparation of cabinet meetings, partly as these bodies usually reside at the line ministries.
The Ministry of Development was designated the primary consultation body for the preparation, implementation, coordination and monitoring of the government’s program.

The Better Regulation Group within the PMO ensures coordination among the related agencies and institutions and improve the process of creating regulations. In addition, the government has created committees – such as the anti-terror commission under the Ministry of Interior, which includes officials from the ministries of Foreign Affairs and Justice, as well as other security departments. These are composed of ministers, experts, bureaucrats and representatives of other bureaucratic bodies (such as those on legislation techniques, legislation management and administrative simplification, and regulatory impact analysis) in highly important policy areas or when important or frequently raised issues were under consideration.

Other such committees include the Economy Coordination Board, the Money Credit Coordination Council, the Investment Environment Coordination Board, the Coordination Board for Combating Financial Crimes and the Counter-Terrorism Coordination Board.

In addition, the Reform Monitoring Group was renamed to Reform Action Group to coordinate policy measures in line with EU legislation. It has been extending its predecessor’s tasks and mission. The new body is tasked with monitoring political reforms, preparing draft reform bills and playing an active role in securing proposals’ parliamentary passage and in the subsequent implementation process. However, this body had convened only three times until December 2015, raising doubts about its impact on policymaking.
Ömer Öz, Regulatory Oversight Bodies in Turkey. Better Regulation Group, The Prime Minister’s Office of Turkey,
31 May 2011, (accessed 5 November 2014).
Çözüm Süreci Kurulu Resmi Gazete’de, 1 October 2014, (accessed 5 November 2014).
‘Reform Monitoring Group for EU reforms replayed with Action Group,’ Hürriyet Daily News (7 November 2014)
2015 Programının Uygulanması, Koordinasyonu ve İzlenmesine İlişkin Karar, Resmi Gazete, 17 October 2014, (accessed 27 Octoer 2015)
Daily Sabah, PM asks other parties to support passing EU bills, 11 December 2015,
There is little review or coordination of cabinet proposals by committees.
During the last years of the SPÖ-ÖVP coalition cabinets, there had been no regular (or permanent) cabinet committees. In rare cases, ad hoc committees were established to deal with specific matters. As coalitions are typical in Austria, such committees usually consist of members of both coalition parties in order to ensure an outcome acceptable to the full cabinet. The new ÖVP-FPÖ cabinet will be free to establish regular cabinet committees.
Forming ad hoc interministerial committees is a regular practice. Their tasks focus on procedural and sector-specific matters (e.g., promoting road safety and combating fire hazards). The formulation of a general policy frameworks is also within their purview. They are supported by departments or technical committees mainly from within the ministries; in some cases, contributions from external experts are sought. The scope of work and the degree of efficiency in the committees’ coordination are not easy to assess, as their reports are rarely made public. The ad hoc character of this practice makes it difficult to implement cohesive strategic planning.
1. Fire Season Planning begins Ministerial Committee meets, Cyprus Mail, 31 January 2017
Czech Rep.
There are about 20 committees whose activities are organized by the Government Office. In addition, there are a further 13 working and advisory bodies managed by individual ministries. Depending on the set of issues they are tasked to address, some are established on a temporary basis while others are permanent. The most important permanent committees include the Council for National Security, Legislative Committee and the Committee for the European Union. The committees discuss and approve policy documents, thereby filtering out issues and saving time in cabinet meetings, but they do so in an ad hoc fashion and are not systematically involved in the preparation of cabinet meetings
As a rule of thumb, the cabinet functions as an institution that formally ratifies policy decisions that have been made elsewhere. In principle, line ministers are responsible for policies within their own jurisdiction. Therefore, they have a strong leeway to pursue their own or their party’s interests, though each ministry must to some extent involve other ministries while drafting bills.

Formal cabinet committees do not play an important role in policymaking and are rarely involved in the review or coordination of proposals. Instead, the coalition committee is mainly responsible for coordinating policies (see Informal Coordination).
There are cabinet committees tasked with overseeing specific policy sectors. However, these committees meet only when a major policy decision has to be made and are not subject to systematic organization. Substantive policy work is done at the line ministries and by the PMO before issues are presented to the cabinet. A small, informal circle of advisers and ministers close to the prime minister, at the headquarters of the PMO, are primarily responsible for the formulation and coordination of cabinet proposals. Ministerial committees often perform a more symbolic function.

Α possible exception is the Council of Administrative Reform, which was established by the Syriza-ANEL government in November 2015. The council is composed of six major government ministers, including the minister of finance and the minister of economy and development, and is presided over by the prime minister. The scope of the council’s tasks is wider than its title indicates. It is a governmental organ that pursues the reform plans of the incumbent government that are outside the remit of Greece’s Third Economic Adjustment Program (e.g., social assistance, education and other policy sectors). Thus, in contrast to its first ten months in power (January – October 2015), the Syriza-ANEL government improved upon it coordination capacity in 2016 – 2017.
Ιnformation on the new Council is available at the official site of the Ministry of Administrative Reconstruction:
In Romania, ministerial committees, composed of one minister, deputy ministers and public servants, feature prominently in interministerial coordination. By contrast, committees consisting only of ministers or with several ministers are rare.
The question for the U.S. system is whether, on major issues, White House advisory processes prepare issues thoroughly for the president, and on lesser issues with interagency implications, whether interagency committees prepare them thoroughly for decision by the relevant cabinet members. The U.S. system of advisory processes varies considerably, even within a single presidential administration, but is largely under control of the president’s appointees in the White House. The process is to a great extent ad hoc, with organizational practices varying over time and from one issue area to another, based partly on the personnel involved. Typically, important decisions are “staffed out” through an organized committee process. However, the ad hoc character of organization (compared with a parliamentary cabinet secretariat), along with the typically short-term service of political appointees – resulting in what one scholar has called “a government of strangers” – renders the quality of these advisory processes unreliable.

President Trump’s White House has largely neglected the role of managing an organized, systematic policy process. After the first six months, a new White House chief of staff (John Kelly, a retired Marine Corps general) has brought some order to the president’s immediate environment by controlling direct access to the president. There have, however, been no reports of a systematic, deliberate presidential decision process on any matter. Trump tweeted a declaration that transgendered persons would no longer be allowed to serve in the military, without first consulting with the Department of Defense (DoD) or the military branches. The DoD has apparently resolved to simply ignore that president’s declaration.
The Bulgarian cabinet does not resort to specific cabinet or ministerial committees as a way of coordinating proposals for cabinet meetings. However, there are many cross-cutting advisory councils that include several ministers or high-ranking representatives of different ministries and have some coordinating functions. These might thus be seen as functional equivalents to ministerial or cabinet committees. However, the role of the councils, which often have a rather broad membership, is quite limited in substantive terms.
The number and role of cabinet committees under the PiS government have been limited. However, it set up an Innovativeness Council, consisting of five ministers, in February 2016 and an Economic Committee at the end of September 2016. The latter is in charge of coordinating the finalization and implementation of the Strategy of Responsible Development.
There is no review or coordination of cabinet proposals by committees. Or: There is no ministerial or cabinet committee.
Estonia does not have a committee structure within government, or any ministerial committee. Ministers informally discuss their proposals and any other pending issues at weekly consultative cabinet meetings. No formal voting or any other selection procedure is applied to issues discussed in consultative meetings. The creation of cabinet committees was proposed by government in March 2017 with a draft law expected in 2018.
Not surprisingly, given the small number of ministries, there are no cabinet committees in Switzerland’s political system. However, there is considerable coordination, delegation and communication at the lower level of the federal government. Every minister is in a sense already a “ministerial committee,” representing the coordination of a large number of cooperating departmental units.
There is little use of formal cabinet committees within Norway’s political system. The whole cabinet meets several times a week and generally works together as a full-cabinet committee.

However, there are meetings in subcommittees, such as the subcommittee dealing with security issues. There is also coordination between key officials representing the political parties that form the coalition government. The coalition partners have, for instance, created a subcommittee within the cabinet that coordinates issues on difficult or sensitive topics and a special subgroup for European affairs.
There are no standing cabinet committees in the Swedish system of government. Cabinet proposals are coordinated through iterations of sending drafts of bills to the concerned departments. This usually takes place at the middle level of the departments and thus does not involve the political level of the departments.

The cabinet is both a policy-shaping institution as well as the final institution of appeal on a wide range of issues. There is also a requirement that the cabinet has to be the formal decision-maker on many issues. This means that the cabinet annually makes more than 100,000 decisions (mostly in bulk).
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