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. [...]
[...] Liberal intergovernmentalists explain the outcomes of negotiations as the reflect of the relative bargaining power of the states, and the delegation of decision making authority to supranational institutions reflected the wish of governments to ensure that the commitments of all parties to the agreement would be carried through rather than federalist ideology or a belief in the inherent efficiency of international organizations. These theories have managed to bring an ever more precise understanding of European Integration. However, the rejection of the Constitutional treaty by French and Dutch people in 2005 raises new questions and challenges to European integration theories. [...]
[...] However, and this is the case in every social sciences, a single theory can not pretend to explain fully the process of European integration. Even an addition of the best elements of each theory will not make it. The event that happened with the Constitutional treaty will probably not stop, in the long term, the process of European integration. However, I predict that this process will go on in a way that never occurred before, and that no past theories have already described. [...]
[...] These theories are both too much biased and restrain in their perspective to explain fully the complex process of European Integration. Later approaches of European integration are all based upon them, but they try to add some elements from social sciences in order to give themselves much more credit and to stick more to the reality of the process. II) Are new theories of European integration more able to explain the process of European integration? The two major theories that I have introduced above both showed their weaknesses and led the way to other theories, mostly based upon their strengths. [...]
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