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Rittberger, Berthold and Goetz, Klaus H. (2018): Secrecy in Europe. In: West European Politics, Vol. 41, No. 4: pp. 825-845

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This article introduces a collection of papers devoted to the study of secrecy in European politics across a range of EU and national settings and policy domains. Academic interest in secret politics – those aspects of public activity intentionally concealed from the public eye – and the governance of secrecy – the political processes and regulatory frameworks governing secret keeping – is growing. This interest reflects technological, social and political developments that appear to signal the end of privacy and the rapid expansion of political secrecy in European multi-level settings. As a consequence, the tensions between democratic accountability, with its transparency requirements, and political secrecy, which is typically justified on grounds of effectiveness of state action, have become more marked and more politicised. Engaging with these developments, the contributions to this collection draw on actor- and interest-centred perspectives that focus on actors’ motivations in secret politics; institutional perspectives that focus on contestation over secrecy norms; and organisational perspectives that emphasise the diversity of secrecy cultures. Further research will benefit from paying special attention to a diverse range of inter-institutional and inter-organisational secrecy settings; to political contestation over secrecy and the regulatory regimes that govern it; and to the refashioning of public-private secrecy architectures.

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