1. Analysis of the different theoretical arguments used to comprehend the process of European Integration and where possible, localization of these in a specific temporal circumstance.
2. Analysis of the duality of “ideas” and “interests” in the various theoretical paradigms of European integration and their role variations in different theories.
III. Main conclusions.
V. Debate questions.
I. General Introduction:
The overall goal of this presentation/outline is to provide:
1. An overview of the different theories of European Integration and (…)
2. (…) analyse their methodological structure and end-goal, in conjunction with an analysis of the duality “ideas” -“interests” and their role in the various theoretical paradigms.
II. Explanation of the Question:
The various theories and approaches to European Integration:
* Serve the purpose of conceptualising empirical actions, ideas and structural formation taken as part of the process of European Integration and (…) (Christiansen, 2002, p. 12)
* (…) attempt to predict these empirical actions by organising them in a theoretical framework. (Wallace, 2000, p. 9),
* mainly appeared after WWII in an attempt to search for a new political system in conformity with the goals of co-operation and peace (Cram, 2003, p. 52) and (…)
* (…) concentrate either on the end-product (e.g.: federalism) or at the background conditions and dynamics of the process (e.g.: Transactionalism/Communications school) (idem).
The main concepts presented in the question:
– Ideas: (to be analysed in the class)
– Concepts: (to be analysed in the class)
– European1 Integration: Broadly understood as a continuing process by which separate European national entities unit into a whole.
c. Analysis of theoretical arguments and Analysis of the duality “ideas” and “interests”:
– In brief, federalism is a set of philosophical ideas prescribing a voluntary union (federation) amongst a group, in order to maintain integrity and individuality (“self-rule in common rule”) (Citing Elazar, 1987, p.12 in Cini, 2003, p. 67).
– The word “federalism” derives from “fider”, meaning faith and trust and representing tolerance, partnership and conciliation amongst diversity (as it, may be argued, is the case of pseudo-federations such as the EU, who have these principle inscribed in their treaty basis2) based in a common agreement or federal arrangement over common values (idem).
– At a practical level, there are a range of federal models (i.e.: Westminster model, Republican Presidential model and the Hybrid Model) in existence, these varying according to the constitutional allocation of powers to the federal government and the national parts with the purpose of maintaining different national identities.
– According to some national interpretations (e.g.: UK, Denmark, etc.), federalism may also mean increased centralization3 of power and passage of the latter to a supranational institution. This perception may be a result of national applications of federalist principles in different circumstances… (e.g.: colonization) (Burgess in Cini, 2003, p. 70).
– In the specific cases of the European Union, it is possible to find characteristics of a “federal type union” namely, the existence of a common currency together with a partial monetary union and a single market, two distinct levels of government with two supranational institutions (EP and Com.), etc. Other areas such as External Relations, Defence, Foreign Affairs, etc. remain in the realm of the MSs.
– The Union’s process of integration follows Jean Monnet’s model of integration, the latter to be achieved systematically, in real terms from economical to political union (“finalite politique”) (Wallace, 2000, p. 7).
– Concluding, in regards to federalism one may argue the theoretical pendulum between “ideas” and “interests” falls more to the first than to the second as federalism encapsulates the achievement of an idea as goal inscribed in the theoretical paradigm, this being the formation of a federation.
– First appeared during the post-war period at a time of European national instability. It was characterized by the increase of European nationalism leading to the WWII and partially, the formation, internationally, of a bi-polar “world” in International Relations (increase in the US/USSR tensions and commencement of the Cold War) (Urwin, p. 14, 1995) as well as the formation of a power vacuum in Europe. This period was also characterized by increased economical pressure at national and international levels (Urwin, 1995, p.17).
– Analysed the process of European integration from the national perspective, where states where unitary parts prepared to use force in order to achieve national goals (especially in regards to security) and where any possible interaction would eventually vanish and the balance be lost, in accordance with new policy objectives.
– Albeit some type of “extensive co-operation [was] not ruled out”, namely in areas considered as being “low politics” (general welfare policies and economics), national “diversity “(citing Hoffman, 1996, p. 886) in the process of decision-making would prevail, especially when possible areas of co-operation were related with “high politics” (defence, foreign politics and security)4 (Peterson, 1999, p. 7).
– Concluding, in all these three theories the theoretical pendulum tends to be balanced, not so much to the “ideas”, but more to the “interests” that may either bind or separate national units characterized by diversity and serve as a path to understand any possibility of European Integration. Moreover, that understanding is hindered by the nature of realism/neo-realism/intergovernmentalism, where relations amongst countries of the EU are in the sphere of International Relations (Peterson, 1999, p. 6).
– Following the realist and intergovernmental approaches to European Integration, Liberal Intergovernmentalism appears with Robert Putnam in 1988 aiming at placing the process of Integration partially in the sphere of International Relations. This is done by the division of the dynamics of the process in a “two level game”, played by the states on one hand, at national level, through the definition of national policy preferences and on the other hand, at the international stage, where the international bargaining process takes place, always taking into account the best national interest. As a result, agreements are reached at the lowest common denominator5, with national actors partially valuing the importance of coordinated policy (especially at an economic level), but with clear limits put on the passage of sovereignty (Rosamond, 2000, p. 136).
– Based in the previous, Liberal Intergovernmentalism also identifies three major lines in European Integration since the ToR (1958), more precisely: 1) relative commercial advantage; 2) relative bargaining power; 3) incentives to increase inter-state co-operation, which act in a interconnected manner with two variables: 1) “demand” at national level, for continued co-operation and 2) supranational “supply” of integration.
– In acting together, the three major lines characterising European Integration and the two major variables result in Integration outcome of an Intergovernmentalist and Liberal nature. This is the same as to say that if one considers state’s actions conditioned solely by what was previously referred, than national preferences will primarily take into account economic factors considered of vital national interest and these will finally influence any possible decision. Moreover, even when national sovereignty is passed to a supranational body, under Liberal Intergovernmentalism this takes place in order to achieve further economic national development and that previous supranational commitments are adhered to (Rosamond, 2000, p. 134).
– Concluding and as explained, “interests” weight heavily in the Liberal Intergovernmentalist approach, where states actions at a supranational level may be understood by a desire of furthering national economic growth on one hand and other hand, taking into account the principle of smallest lost of sovereignty. Consequently, “ideas” are not understood as important under the Liberal Intergovernmentalist view of the process of European Integration and national action may only be predicted by national interest (Cini, 2003, p. 104).
– As there is a clear idea of the incapacity for static integration theories to fully encapsulate the complexity of the process of European Integration and moreover, new variables are being brought forward to this analysis, Multi-Level Governance appears as a conflicting and feasible possibility to rebate Intergovernmentalism and its variations (Hix, 1999, p. 272).
– In one’s opinion, these feasibility relates with the premise basis underlying the multi-level governance discourse: 1) the change in the character of national governments and 2) the reflection of that change in the blurriness between national and supranational levels of policy-making (Rosamond in Cini, 2003, p. 120).
– Multi-level governance is, hence, a theoretical assumption that European Integration has occurred and currently occurs, by the dispersion of national decision-making across various wider levels of policy-making at European level, but also more “restrict” ones such as at local and regional levels with some kind of general devolution of powers6, whilst “national governments tend to remain important sites of authority” (idem).
– Multi-level governance theorists also believe that by creating a multi-tier governance there is, as a consequence, greater fluidity between different levels of action allowing for policy and policy actors to move more easily between different levels and also, allowing for a more pluralistic and organizational conception of the state and state actions outside the national realm. One could argue, the Intergovernmentalist approach fails in this matter as it does not provide the control flexibility of Multi-Level Governance (idem).
– Concluding, “ideas” and “interests” are balanced in Multi-Level Governance because of the theoretical objective of this theory, this being the study of the dynamics of the process of European Integration and not the presentation of an end-goal as such. In the study of that process, there is the assumption that different levels of government may become interconnected without any clear evidence of whether this may happen due to the achievement of a particular idea or a set of interests.
– The central theoretical role of analysis is the “context and conditions” necessary for further integration to take place. Thus, integration will further by the development of telecommunications, travel, trade, etc., that will serve as the setting for “mutual relevance” and increased “mutual responsiveness” (e.g.: demand for greater capabilities, greater governance, better services, etc.) (quoting Cram in Richardson, 2001, p. 53).
– Henceforth, the increase in “mutual responsiveness” put against a “continuous context and conditions” (idem) leads to an increase in “responsive transactions”, these appearing as a result of a complex learning process from which shared symbols of integration and identities, and finally, integration will appear (idem).
– Concluding, in the Transactionalism/Communications School, one may arguably defend that the theoretical pendulum between ideas or interests is not, at least initially, inclined for either side and most important, it is a possible “context” that may foster integration and may help to understand the previous. It would only be the willingness (based in ideas or interest) to achieve a specific type of “mutual responsiveness” (e.g.: greater governance) that would develop a specific type of long-term context by the influencing of long socio-psychological aspects of a society or group of societies (as it may be found today) and hence, change the balance between “ideas” and “interests”.
– At the initial theoretical base of Functionalist theory is the idea of the development of a “universal system” rather than macro-regional systems such as the EU as well as the idea of positive international co-operation if not tied down to a specific “territorial authority” (human division of geography in states) seen as the cause of all evils and possible international struggles of power (citing Mitrany, 1943, p. 87).
– Under David Mitrany’s view (one of the most influential functionalists), there should be a clarification of the national needs at all levels and thereafter, the organisation of these needs at a supranational level (even if this involved the fusion of state competencies at sectoral level) in technical/functional level. In regards to this, Mittrany argued further, mentioning that it was in fact the incapacity to achieve the previous objective and moreover, the formation of political/constitutional co-operation with the goal of furthering national objectives reflected in the formation of international non-technocratic institutions (e.g.: League of Nations), that had led to further disputes (Wallace, 2000, p. 7).
– Under Functionalist theory what is necessary for integration is the creation of technical structures (e.g.: International Labour Organization) with clear specific functions and created with a functional goal rather than organisations based in an idea (e.g.: federalism) that would serve to achieve the end-goal. This “technical self-determination” would prevail over any constitutional division of power and authority and thus, would dilute possible ideological/nationalistic tensions, whilst forming a series of world structures serving world necessities rather than ideologies or nations/groups of nations (Mitrany, 1943, p. 83).
– Concluding, it may be defended the theoretical pendulum between “ideas” and “interests” falls more to the latter than to the first as long as “interests” are understood as necessities general to all the states and organised by sectoral technocratic necessities with the goal of diluting ideologies and micro-regional and macro-regional forms of “nationalism”. Finally, it may be argued that functionalism could predict the foreseeable end of the “idea” of European Integration. Finally under functionalist “eyes” the process of European Integration is only feasible, if seen as a step for a future world wide technocratic governmental form of political organisation according to specific needs.
– Partially based in functionalism, neo-functionalism was firstly developed by US scholars during the mid-50’s aiming at explaining the dynamics of macro-regional European Integration between the Six Founding MSs of the EEC, not concentrating itself in the analysis of the end-goal (Jensen in Cini, 2003, p. 81).
– A starting point of the neofunctionalist analysis is the admission of the importance of not only of states in the dynamic process, but also supranational institutions and non-state actors (e.g.: interest groups) as motors for further integration. In other words, not only state actors, but also societal groups are considered vital in a continuous process that may be fuelled by self-interest of these, if a specific ruling party is not able/willing to achieve a desired level of integration.
– Under purely neofunctionalist terms people provide the necessary “permissive consensus” for executives to further integration by means of elitism as long as it is perceived all involved in the process are gaining (Wallace, 2000, p. 9).
– Another important point in the neofunctionalist approach is the explanation of the dynamics of integration by continuous spill-over of integration between one and another area whilst inter-state political co-operation takes place. Moreover, this spill over process may take place either only at a functional/technical level (e.g.: in order for specific objectives in one are to be achieved, technical coordination with another area may be necessary and thus, further integration)7, but also at a political level. Finally, the dynamics of integration may also foster the “cultivation” of integration, if indeed the latter is pushed by a specific actor (e.g.: in the EU case, the Commission and to some degree, the EP) (Wallace, 2000, p. 10).
– In regards to its theoretical structure, Neofunctionalism encloses in itself, at least partially, some of the theory of the Transactionalism/Communications school in the sense that assumes the possibility of elite socialization with the augmentation of an European environment and hence, the formation of possible supranational policy-makers as a result of the pan-European environment they are put under. In result, supranational policy-makers would become less nationally politicised and more technocratic, creating in return an international institutional environment less politicised.
– Concluding, “ideas” and “interests” play an equally important role in the neofunctionalist approach in equitable levels. This may vary according to the actor/s influencing the dynamics of integration.
III. Main conclusions:
a. The existence of different perceptions of the process of integration (as explained in part II. C. i/ii) represented in different theoretical paradigms and (…)
b. (…) the importance of this in order to conceptualise and predict reality, even if, arguably, in a deficient manner and thus,
c. the incapacity of theoretical explanations to fully encompass past, present and future reality of European Integration to the fullest and possible reasons for this incapacity.
d. Variations of importance between two key concepts: “ideas” and “interests” in theoretical paradigms (…)
e. (…) and the centrality of these, in order to comprehend the various theoretical explanations.
f. Finally, the singularity of the process of European Integration and the EU, not only as a pseudo-federation based in fully formed states (at economic, political and social levels), but also in its structural organisation, which appears more and more intertwined with national policy-making to the point of non-distinction.
* Christiansen, T. & G. Falkner & K. E. Jorgensen (February 2002): “Theorizing beyond EU treaty reform: beyond diplomacy and bargaining”, Journal of European Public Policy, volume: (not given), number 31:2, pp. 12 – 18.
* Cini, Michelle (2003): “European Union Politics” (Oxford: Oxford University Press), pp. 65 – 126.
* European Commission (2001): “European Union enlargement – A Historic Opportunity”, European Commission, volume: (not given), number: (not given): pp. 6 – 10.
* Hix, Simon (1999): “The Political System of the European Union” (London: Macmillan Press Ltd.), p. 273-274
* Hoffman, S. (1996): “Obstinate or Obsolete? The fate of the Nation-State and the Case of Western Europe”, Daedalus, pp. 880 – 898.
* Mitrany, D. (1943, first edt.): “A Working Peace System” (Chicago: Quadrangle), p. 80 – 100.
* Peterson, J. & Elizabeth Bomberg (1999): “Decision-Making in the European Union” (London: Macmillan Press Ltd.), pp. 6 – 12.
* Richardson, J. & L. Cram (2001, second edt.): “European Union – Power and Policy-Making” (London: Routledge), pp. 52 – 70.
* Rosamond, B. (2000): “Theories of European Integration” (Basingstoke: Palgrave), pp. 100 – 200.
* Steiner, Josephine & Lorna Woods (2000, seventh edition): ‘Textbook on EC Law’ (London: Blackstone Press Ltd.), general reference only.
* Urwin, D. (1995, second edt.): “The Community of Europe – A History of European Integration Since 1945” (Essex: Longman Limited), pp. 4 – 7 and 13 – 15.
* Wallace, H and W. (2000, third edt.): “Policy-Making in the European Union” (Oxford: Oxford University Press), pp. 3 – 37.
V. Debate Questions:
* Do you agree with the affirmation “None of the theories is able to fully conceptualise the past, present and future of European Integration?” Why?
* In your personal opinion, which theory best represents the current state of European Integration?
* Assuming it is Neofunctionalism the best theory to understand the current state of affairs in European Integration, could one argue Neofunctionalism will die again? Why?
* Is the end-goal of functionalism feasible?
* Will theoretical analysis ever be able to contemplate and predict the complexities of “political” workings”?
* Are Multi-Level Governance theorists correct in arguing that there is no distinction between different levels of government (supranational and national)?
1 The non-definition of “European” relates with 1) a need for conciseness in the outline and 2) difficulty in providing a clear definition, as asserted by many academics and indeed the European Commission. For the purpose of this presentation, “European” refers to the current Member-States of the EU and all the countries that have “associate” status (further information: European Commission, 2001, p. 8) or/and have began accession negotiations or have any specific relation with the EU, that could entail a future membership under the principles set in the EC Treaty (Art. 237) and in the TEU (Art. 0).
2 Principle contained in Art. F (1), Title 1 of the TEU: “Union must respect the national identities of its Member-States” (MSs).
3 As a counter point to the centralization of power, principles such as “subsidiarity” were inscribed in the Treaties (SEA, 1987 and more recently, Art. 3B, TEU)).
4 A textual example of realism/intergovernmentalism/neo-realism may be found in the Brugge speech (1988) given by Margaret Thatcher (further information: www.businessforsterling.org)
5 An example of the “principle of lowest common denominator” may be found in the formation of the Water Framework Directive (WFD or Directive 2000/60/EC) and the wide disparity between the initial proposal presented by the Commission (COM(97)049) and the final version adopted by the Council of Ministers (further information: www.europa.eu.int/eurlex) .
6 To this matter, one could argue that the appearance of new regional organisations such as Regional Development Agencies in countries such as Portugal and the UK partially reflects this reality. Moreover, specific sectors of policy-making may already serve as an example to Multi-Level Governance, such as Agriculture under CAP (Hix, 1999, p. 273).
7 Example: Initial area of integration: Single Market // Consequence: Greater mobility of products and services // New area of integration: Competition Law, specifically in regards to state aid and the controls in continuous reallocation of services and products (further information on Competition Law: Steiner, 2000).
Politics and Policies of the EU – Theories and Approaches
Prof. Christiansen (Tutor: T. Marquez Uriarte)
By Helder Marcio do Couto Pereira – 9/10/03