On Why the EU Should Die. And be Resurrected

By Petr Manousek
Interstate - Journal of International Affairs
2011, Vol. 2011/2012 No. 1 | pg. 2/2 |

Areas for Cooperation

Therefore, this article would like to briefly sketch its own view on these basics, namely, where cooperation should be established and thus what further research should revolve around. This view has two principal advantages. First, instead of emphasising one aspect of integration as most theories do, it wants to remain as interdisciplinary as possible and retain an inclusive rather than exclusive character. Second, such a generalised set of areas can serve to compare and contrast the different regional arrangements in the world. This way, the EU-centricity of integration studies could be diminished and the field could become wider.As we implicitly established above, regional arrangements are about cooperation; they work towards achieving it. We can say that there have been several time periods when the EU reached the level needed for progress and the “confluence of interests” created a favourable constellation. Obviously, it was in the 1950s and early 1960s when the integration actually began and quickly expanded into several areas that conformed to states’ preferences. However, the momentum was then lost. Although the ensuing “paralysis” was not absolute,18 states returned to their familiar protectionist behaviour rather than the liberal mode the European Community (EC) offered. The 1980s then provided much space for EC cooperation19 and the drive prevailed until the mid- 1990s when it started to slowly fade once again until the general discord experienced now.

These successful moments should be recreated. This does not necessarily mean that the EU should expand either in scope or in geographical terms. However, for the sake of resolving the many problems of today, the level of cooperation and consensus should be achieved by discussing where states do and do not want to tread – their national interests. These are naturally diverse but, drawing on the insightful framework of Gardini,20 they can be grouped into five broad fields where cooperation should take place and which will be very briefly described now.The first area is relationship with international hegemon(s). What visibly marked the European postwar development were the interests of the United States and Soviet Union, which led to a high-stakes game in the region. The US pressured Western Europe to integrate Germany and laid the foundations for containment. In contrast, the Soviet Union preferred a weak Germany and strove to expand (later, at least, lock in) its territorial reach deeper into the continent.21 The founding EU states were clear where their loyalty was and cooperated with one and not the other, which has brought obvious benefits (such as peace, as argued by Mearsheimer22). In general, the relevant basic postures are generally of two types: cooperation (‘bandwagoning’ in the language of alliance theory which is very relevant for arrangementbuilding) or rivalry (‘balancing’).23 In the end, states then have to decide on one or a combination of both if they want to build and develop their regional arrangement.

The second area is relationship with regional power(s). As Buzan and Weaver24 describe them: ‘regional powers define the polarity of any given RSC’25 such as regional arrangement, for our purposes. Much the same as with international hegemons, these countries cannot be easily ignored and there also must be consensus around whether to include them or not. Additionally, Gardini26 also calls these countries ‘paymasters’ which draws on their tendency to pay more of the integration costs than the other members.27 Nowadays, France and Germany are very much the regional powers that shape the EU integration but there tends to be opposition to such prevalence.

Third, development model to adopt can be imagined as a certain deal offered to and accepted by states willing to create or join a certain integration arrangement. This idea involves an implicit or explicit agreement on the “path to follow”, which seems obvious at first but can present great problems when consensus on the right direction disappears, such as today. It comprises difficult decisions, such as which economic model to choose (today, the problem of protectionism), how to perceive potential enlargement (the questions of a potential membership of Turkey), or simply what sectors and areas to include at the time of creation and which, if any, later (such as foreign policy unification).

The fourth area, which this article adds to the original Gardini framework, is a normative and cultural dimension. This is the problematic field of norms and identities which can cause so many problems not only at the negotiating table, but also within domestic affairs when people cannot identify with what EU stands for. Nowadays, there is little understanding for the EU’s supposedly bloated budget and meddling in domestic issues. This is why the EU should also advance in this direction and clearly say what it really stands for, instead of the standard “eurospeak”.

The fifth and last area is called governance and decisionmaking. The consensus should explicitly develop on the level of supranationalism the EU member states in this time want to pursue. In a way, this field addresses how the EU wants to solve the most painful collective action problems – fear of defection and a just distribution of gains.28 The style of governance is not a marginal issue: ‘Governance and integration appear to have a circular relationship. That is, effective governance may produce greater integration, while at the same time high levels of integration may increase the capacity to govern. These virtuous cycles could, of course, be mirrored by a downward spiral into governance failure and disintegration’. 29

Conclusion

In sum, this article strove to look at the EU from a realist perspective. What was captured was how the EU actually works, which could derive substantial theoretical understanding that could develop a less EU-centric and less divided integration scholarship. Negotiations were identified as the most prominent activity of states as the most important actors in the EU. These states focus on cooperation in fields they perceive to be relevant to their national interest. According to this article, these areas are essentially five: 1) relationship with international hegemon(s), 2) relationship with regional power(s), 3) development model to adopt, 4) normative and cultural dimension and 5) governance and decision-making. Explicit, or even implicit, consensus in these five areas would help the EU focus on what is important and help it achieve higher effectiveness and coherence. However, in order to do that, the old EU, and especially the old divided ideas about it, must die. And be resurrected.


Endnotes

  1. See, for example Philippe De Lombaerde et al., ‘The problem of comparison in comparative regionalism,’ Review of International Studies 36, no. 03 (2010); Alex Warleigh-Lack and Luk Van Langenhove, ‘Rethinking EU Studies: The Contribution of Comparative Regionalism,’ Journal of European Integration 32, no. 6 (2010); A. Sbragia, ‘Comparative regionalism: What might it be?,’ Jcms-Journal of Common Market Studies 46(2008); Fredrik Söderbaum and Alberta Sbragia, ‘EU Studies and the ‘New Regionalism’: What can be Gained from Dialogue?,’ Journal of European Integration 32, no. 6 (2010).
  2. Roger C. Altman, ‘Globalization in Retreat,’ Foreign Affairs 88, no. 4 (2009).
  3. See Linda Weiss, ‘The state-augmenting effects of globalisation,’ New Political Economy 10, no. 3 (2005).
  4. Jacobus Delwaide, ‘“The Return of the State?,’ European Review 19, no. 01 (2011): 80.
  5. Jacobus Delwaide, ‘“The Return of the State?,’ European Review 19, no. 01 (2011): 80.
  6. Weiss, ‘The state-augmenting effects of globalisation.’
  7. B. Thorhallsson, The role of small states in the European Union (Burlington: Ashgate, 2000).
  8. Andreas Dür, Gemma Mateo, and Daniel C. Thomas, ‘Negotiation theory and the EU: the state of the art,’ Journal of European Public Policy 17, no. 5 (2010): 613.
  9. M.A. Pollack, The Engines of European Integration: Delegation, Agency, and Agenda Setting in the EU (Oxford University Press, 2003), 377-8.
  10. T. Christiansen and S. Piattoni, Informal governance in the European union (Edward Elgar, 2003), 9.
  11. Pollack, The Engines of European Integration: Delegation, Agency, and Agenda Setting in the EU.
  12. Pollack, The Engines of European Integration: Delegation, Agency, and Agenda Setting in the EU.
  13. Dür, Mateo, and Thomas, ‘Negotiation theory and the EU: the state of the art.’; Jonas Tallberg, ‘Explaining the institutional foundations of European Union negotiations,’ Journal of European Public Policy 17, no. 5 (2010).
  14. Thorhallsson, The role of small states in the European Union: esp. 114-60.
  15. K. Booth and N.J. Wheeler, The security dilemma: fear, cooperation and trust in world politics (Palgrave Macmillan, 2008), 41.
  16. K. Booth and N.J. Wheeler, The security dilemma: fear, cooperation and trust in world politics (Palgrave Macmillan, 2008), 41.
  17. Andreas Dür and Gemma Mateo, ‘Choosing a bargaining strategy in EU negotiations: power, preferences, and culture,’ Journal of European Public Policy 17, no. 5 (2010): abstract.
  18. Richard T. Griffiths, ‘A Dismal Decade? European Integration in the 1970s,’ in Origins and evolution of the European Union, ed. D. Dinan (New York: Oxford University Press, 2006).
  19. N. Piers Ludlow, ‘From Deadlock to Dynamism: The European Community in the 1980s,’ in Origins and evolution of the European Union, ed. D. Dinan (New York: Oxford University Press, 2006).
  20. Gian Luca Gardini, ‘Proyectos de integración regional sudamericana: hacia una teoría de convergencia regional | South American regional integration projects. Towards a theory of regional convergence,’ Relaciones Internacionales, no. 15 (2010).
  21. Jeffrey J. Anderson, ‘The EU, the Soviet Union, and the End of the Cold War,’ in Origins and evolution of the European Union, ed. D. Dinan (New York: Oxford University Press, 2006).
  22. John J. Mearsheimer, ‘Why is Europe Peaceful Today?,’ European Political Science 9, no. 3 (2010).
  23. Although neutrality is theoretically a third option, it has never really been adopted in empirical terms in Europe by any arrangement. (Note that this work does not speak about neutrality adopted by some individual states.) Furthermore, the nature or very existence of neutrality has been disputed: for more detail see Christine Agius and Karen Devine, ‘‘Neutrality: A really dead concept?’ A reprise,’ Cooperation and Conflict 46, no. 3 (2011)., Goetschel Laurent Goetschel, ‘Neutrals as brokers of peacebuilding ideas?,’ Cooperation and Conflict 46, no. 3 (2011). and Karsh Efraim Karsh, ‘International Co-Operation and Neutrality,’ Journal of Peace Research 25, no. 1 (1988).
  24. B. Buzan and O. Wæver, Regions and powers: the structure of international security (Cambridge University Press, 2003), 37.
  25. B. Buzan and O. Wæver, Regions and powers: the structure of international security (Cambridge University Press, 2003), 37.
  26. Gardini, ‘„Proyectos de integración regional sudamericana: hacia una teoría de convergencia regional | South American regional integration projects. Towards a theory of regional convergence,’ 27.
  27. Gardini, ‘„Proyectos de integración regional sudamericana: hacia una teoría de convergencia regional | South American regional integration projects. Towards a theory of regional convergence,’ 27.
  28. Finn Laursen, ‘Regional Integration: Some Introductory Reflections,’ in Comparative Regional Integration: Europe and Beyond, ed. Finn Laursen (Farnham: Ashgate Publishing Limited, 2010); Stephan Haggard, ‘Regionalism in Asia and the Americas’, in The political Economy of Regionalism, ed. Edward D. Mansfield and Helen V. Milner (New York: Columbia University Press, 1997).
  29. B. Guy Peters and J. Pierre, ‘Governance Approaches’, in European Integration Theory, ed. T. Diez and A. Wiener (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009), 102.

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