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Can any theory fully explain the process of European integration? If not, why not?

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  1. Introduction.
  2. The two leading approaches of European Integration: Neo-Functionalism and Inter-Governmentalism.
    1. The Neo-Functionalist theory.
    2. The Inter-Governmentalist theory.
  3. Ability of the new theories to explain the process of European integration.
    1. The renewal of the Neo-Functionalist theory.
    2. The Historical Institutionalist analysis.
    3. The Liberal Inter-Governmentalist approach.
  4. The future possibilities for European Integration.
    1. An integration process stopped by two main European people.
    2. The future of the process.
    3. Creation of horizontal processes by vertical integration.
  5. Conclusion.
  6. Bibliography.

European integration is a process which began with the birth of the European Coal and Steel Community the 18th of April 1952. This process was at first essentially economical, but the necessary structures needed for an economic integration led also to a political integration. This process has meant that the economies of participating states, and subsequently other policy areas, have been increasingly managed in common. Over a range of matters, national governments have now to take decisions with other governments, which imply a turn from ?national sovereignty? to ?pooled sovereignty? . Even the definition of ?European Integration? has created a debate between numerous scholars, a debate which opposed at first two main theories, neo-functionalism and intergovernmentalism, attempting to explain this process, both of them inspired from the International relations theories. While the intergovernmentalists emphasize the action between sovereign member states to describe the process, the neo-functionalists, considers others such as societal groups or European institutions as very important actors to explain the process. Lindberg, a neo-functionalist theorist, gave this quite neutral definition of political integration , ?the process whereby nations forego the desire and ability to conduct foreign the desire and ability to conduct foreign and key domestic policies independently, seeking instead to make joint decisions or to delegate the decision making process to new central organs; and the process whereby political actors in several distinct national settings are persuaded to shift their expectations and political activities to a new centre.?

[...] Many agrees that this theory suited quite well to explain the process of European integration from the 1950's to the mid 1960's, until De Gaulle positions towards EEC seriously slowed down the integration process. Since the success of the ECSC, which had led the way to the EEC, neo-functionalists considered that integration was promoting further integration. The integration processes was presented as automatic in terms of interdependence of modern economies and through spill over, as bureaucrats and politicians get more and more used to work at the supranational level. [...]


[...] A hypothetical effort to stem the power of the Court and Commission by the member states could hardly be done without, for instance, jeopardizing the single-market project.7 This historical institutionalist approach can incorporate key aspects of neo-functionalism while answering intergovernmentalist criticisms towards neo-functionalism, those could be sum up in two questions: Why would member states lose control, and even if they did, why would they not subsequently reassert it? The Liberal Intergovernmentalist Approach Liberal Intergovernmentalism builds on an earlier approach, ?intergovernmental institutionalism', by refining its theory of interstate bargaining and institutional compliance, and by adding an explicit theory of national preference formation grounded in liberal theories of international interdependence. [...]


[...] The Historical Institutionalist Analyses The Historical Institutionalist analyse stresses the need to study European Integration as a process that unfolds over time. Losses of control result not only from the autonomous actions of supranational organizations, but from member states preoccupation with short-term concerns, the ubiquity of unintended consequences, and the instability of member-state policy preferences[17]. Historical institutionalism is a loose term covering a range of scholarship that has tried to combine social science concerns and methods with a recognition that must be understood as historical phenomena[18]. [...]

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